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Developing a Successful Business

Written by: Matt Wilhelmi

One of my favorite topics: Success! I think I love this topic because it gives people a chance to dream. In some cases, it makes people really consider if they’re on the right path. Believe it or not, I wrote a 10-page paper on “What Success Means to Me” back in High School. Crazy to think that now, I’m able to help people realize success for themselves.

A lot of clients ask me questions about planning for the upcoming year and making sure they are going to be on the right path. One client I met with recently, who happens to own a rapidly growing service-based business, asked me this: “What does it take to develop a successful business?”

I responded with this simple statement, “Developing a successful business is a never-ending process.” Here’s where to start:

Define success for you.

I don’t mean to sound cliché, but success is not a universal term, and chasing after someone else’s definition will leave you unsatisfied and unfulfilled. What I’ve noticed is that some people use success as a synonym for wealth, for power, or for stuff.

How do you define success?

In my opinion, developing a successful business is very similar to developing a successful life. As a company, IA Business Advisors has learned from and developed many “successful businesses.” Here’s the advice we give:

Nothing drives a company into distress more than inconsistency. Clients want a consistent product. Vendors want consistent orders. And Employees want a consistent leader. It all starts with building a consistent process: Who does what, when, and why. Then business becomes about tweaking the process instead of criticizing inconsistency. Add quality control metrics and accountability for actions. These are all part of building a consistent process.

After there’s a consistent process, business owners can see trends in their business and manage to exceptions. We coach our clients to understand what is a “normal fluctuation” in their production metrics, financial reports, or new client acquisitions. If we see things that are outside of the norm, we can manage these exceptions by determining why it happened, who should have been responsible for it, and how to fix the process so it doesn’t happen again.

There may not be a more polarizing topic for business owners than their next steps in business. Some business owners vow to work until they drop, while others have visions of selling for millions. It is possible to find a successor that can help you leave a legacy. Unfortunately, it’s rarely an easy task. It takes time to grow a successor. What our clients find is that finding and growing a successor is a very satisfying part of developing a successful business.

What have you done to create a successful business? Is it ever really done?

Please share your insights in the comments below!

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