Occasionally I’m asked to do interviews related to my business. Most of them ask similar questions, how did you start, when did you get your first client, what you did for marketing… but recently one of these interviews asked me what I thought were the five keys to success. That one made me stop and think. Based on my experiences, just what were those five keys?
I came up with the following five items after some thought.
I then went on to explain why I felt these five elements were so important. Sharing these particular keys to success here seemed only logical. So here they are:
Determination: Some of the most amazing success stories come from people who began their businesses out of desperation. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. I believe that the desperation that these people experienced gave them a level of determination that many of us don’t have.
When running your own business you have to be able to push yourself even when things look bleak. It can take a long time to get that first client, or enough clients to consider your business a success; you must have the determination to follow it through.
Preparation- There is a reason the Boy Scouts use the motto, “Be Prepared” and it extends well beyond merit badges and camping. Prepare yourself and your business by doing things like writing a business plan and creating your business policies. Too many people don’t think ahead to things like how they will deal with late payments. I devote three whole chapters in my VA Survival Guide to some of the things that many virtual assistants (and others) fail to think about before they start doing business.
There is a down side to preparation though. There are many businesses that never get off the ground because someone spent way too much time on the preparation. It’s like anything in life, it requires balance. Balance your preparation with action.
Professionalism- Just because you’re working from home and you’re the boss, it’s still extremely important to be professional. This is one of the reasons that someone should have experience working in a traditional office setting in a position that included extensive responsibilities within the business. Professionalism is something that is extremely difficult to teach, and is most often learned by both observing and experience. It is crucial to the success of your business that you not only understand professionalism, but that you exhibit it in your interactions with others.
Confidence- You must have confidence in yourself, your abilities and your business. This is critical. You would be surprised how many small business owners answer the question “Do you believe you/your business will find success within the next few years?” with a half hearted “I hope so” response. It’s obvious they lack the confidence for success. Confident people answer that same question much differently. For example, I once answered the question with “Not only do I believe I’ll find success, I see my business becoming the name everyone thinks of when the term Virtual Assistant” is mentioned. And although that may not yet be a reality, I do know that the number of people who equate my name and my business name with the term has increased substantially.
If you don’t believe in yourself, how do expect someone else to do so?
Vision- In order to have determination and confidence in your business it requires that have a vision of what you want your business to be and where you want it to go. If your vision isn’t there or if it’s not clear, it’s like driving blind. That’s where the importance of a business plan of some sort comes into play. Knowing what your vision is allows you to set goals and work toward them.
I’m sure other business people might give different answers to this same question, but for me, these five things have made a difference for me personally. And whether they are the five keys to success or simply five of many more keys, I think that most business owners who have found success would agree these particular points are important. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think I’m missing something more important? Have these five things made a difference in your business or the business of someone you know? I’d love to discuss it, so don’t be shy, let me know how you feel in the comments section.