Common Dominators: Top 10 Traits of Successful Businesses

Monday, March 24, 2014

How We Are Hungry

Nobody can say for certain what separates companies who have found success from those who have found, well - less than that.

Though great products, great timing and great staff go a long way to providing a solid foundation for success, there are a number of distinct traits and habits shared by the business elite that time and time again have given them an edge over the competition.

So, as I've observed, marvelled-over, squirrelled away and unearthed them in my years working for a range of different businesses, here are the ten traits that I've seen appear most often, and that I firmly believe are the real keys to success in business.


How Successful Businesses Do It

1. They work (and usually own) their niche

There is a lot of competition out there. One way to narrow the field in a competitive industry is to find a niche in your market. Offering a unique service or product - one that is either entirely new, or one that adds a useful twist to an existing product - is an approach that has always helped businesses find success. Look at Apple, now the world’s most profitable company. When they first introduced the iPod in 2001, industry giants such as Sony and Intel all had their own successful portable MP3 player offerings, but Apple’s new iPod was simpler, more portable and, well, cooler.


2. They know the competition

Studying your competition and its products is crucial to running a successful business. Without doing even the most basic bit of research, you can’t know who or what you’re competing with. Learning as much as possible about your competitors can help expose gaps in the market that your company may be able to fill. It can also give you an insight into their weaknesses or market weaknesses your business can then aim to monopolize. Your competitors’ failures and successes, too, can be useful in showing you where your own company can do better.


3. They have happy customers

There is no such thing as a business without customers, so a sustained focus on great customer service should never be undervalued. A company that is particularly successful in making their customers happy is guaranteed to thrive. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond what is expected and, most importantly, don’t ever forget your customers are at the heart of what you do.


4. They embrace technology

Love it or hate it, technology can help your company run much more efficiently, but it can also provide incredible opportunities for growth. Entire industries have sprung up around new technologies from the multi-billion dollar smartphone accessories market that resulted from the boom in mobile phones to the online-only businesses that rake in sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, without any click and mortar presence. Think about how you would run your business with such ubiquitous technologies as mobile phones or email. Keeping up with the latest technological trends and innovations could provide the lightbulb moment that propels your company into success.


5. They are ambitious

Nobody ever achieved a goal purely by talking about it. They did something (probably a lot of something) to make it happen. Running a business is hard yakka, and taking it from a mere idea to an actual profit-making enterprise requires dedication, desire, and drive, all of which can be summed up in one word: Ambition. Ambition is the a strong desire to achieve a certain goal. and only when you are prepared to sweat and sacrifice and do anything you must to do, so will you be on your way to making it at something.


6. They exude confidence

Companies who have been lucky enough to find success in business didn’t go into any venture thinking they would fail, despite all the evidence and criticism to the contrary. Confidence in what you do or provide, as well as faith in yourself is one of the most crucial factors in determining whether your company’s future will be a successful one. After all, if you don’t have faith in your products or your own ability to sell them, how can you expect others to be believers? If you’re not absolutely confident in all aspects of your business and your own abilities, you are unlikely to find investors, create partnerships, or even sell your basic business offerings convincingly.


7. They ask questions, and lots of them

Never stop asking questions. After all, asking questions is about getting answers and seeking knowledge, isn’t it? Once your company loses interest in knowing more or learning something new, it’s already on its way to falling well behind the competition. Successful companies and their employees continually ask questions and they don’t shy away from asking those that may seem silly on first broaching.


8. They are passionate

You can’t fake passion, and it is passion that can help take simple ideas and weave them into business gold. If you love what you do, you’ll be more than willing to put in the extra time and effort to succeed. You won’t worry about working only from 9-5, and obstacles that might put off someone less enthusiastic will just 'get done'. Working towards your goal will be a joy, not a chore. Of course, passion alone won’t cut it, but combined with a measured work ethic and clear focus, anything is possible.


9. They are flexible

When running a business, flexibility is vital. Having processes that are fluid and open to change means you’ll be able to cope more easily when you meet unexpected challenges or when things don’t go precisely according to your business plan. It also means your business can change direction with easy and speed and, potentially, it could expand the range of opportunities available to you. Stop resisting change and start embracing it. Think too about strategic risk options, continuity plans; don't have a plan for the unforseeable? You might one day soon become stuck.


10. They plan everything

That old adage, ‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’ is as apt in business as it is in life. Planning is important because in creating a destination, you must analyse every step of the journey, a task that can prepare your business for what is to come, or at least raise warning flags. The result of having even the most basic of plans is that your business won’t be sailing entirely rudderless through the choppy corporate seas since you have a destination and a rough idea of how to get there.