How To Be A Successful Business ~ A 10 Step Process

How to be a successful businessStarting a business is both exciting and scary

When Mel and I started our first business, we wanted to ensure that we had a concrete plan laid out.  I took part to do a lot of research, consulted with seasoned business owners through the SBA, contacted the proper city departments and of course, prayed for guidance.

With all the basic knowledge we both obtained, we proceeded to open our first business – an Asian Food Cart.

Although a small food cart doesn’t seem to be comparable to something like a big brick and mortar restaurant, opening it still required a vision and a concrete plan. It also required the usual things like ~

  • licensing
  • contracts
  • attorneys
  • insurance
  • accountants
  • hiring employees
  • choosing vendors
  • purchasing equipment
  • marketing and advertising

At that time, it seemed daunting to go through all the necessary channels but Mel and I were determined to follow the course. It took about 3 months from the food cart purchase to completing all the requirements before we opened. That was one of the most nerve wracking yet most exhilarating day ever!

After accomplishing all that, it was time to figure out how to be a successful business. This was probably the hardest step of my business journey because it was hard to predict my success. But we had a vision and a plan ~ that was a good start!

For all of you, whether you have a somewhat established business or starting one right now, let’s take a look a the 10 steps on how to be a successful business.

1. Business plan – Write one now

A business plan is your road map. In this plan, you will detail:

  • What’s your business
  • Why’s of your business
  • How’s of your business

I wrote our business plan in great detail. I included my most important things like financial goals, my target market, marketing strategies and my competition. It really was my road map!  Do not skip writing a business plan. It will help keep you focused on the what, how, and why’s to be a successful business.

Note: I used a template provided by the SBA. Click here for a downloadable copy.

2. Contact your local newspaper or website owners to help promote your business 

I didn’t want to initally spend too much money on advertising my food cart. But I needed to let people know that we were opened for business.

It was our good fortune when a foodie fan contacted our local paper to do a write up on our Asian Food Cart. We were so excited because this meant free press and big exposure!

A week before we were published, the photographer came to our business and took some cool pictures. Then the food writer interviewed us and voila, we were on our way to being featured in the newspaper.

That one article in the food and lifestyle section was published the following Friday and our business took off! We sold a lot of asian dumplings that day and helped to establish our business.

We also established a relationship with a website owner whose niche was featuring our city’s food carts. She did a great promotional post about us and that helped kick start our business as well. It worked really well!

These two contacts helped pave our start. We got so much press, which in turn, brought customers to us, which in turn, became word-of-mouth advertising, which in turn helped us became one of the premier food carts in the city.

Our popularity soared in the ensuing months and we were featured in Sunset magazines as one of the top food carts in the NW. We were also contacted by Food Network and asked to be featured in the show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” (Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out.)

3. Underestimate your revenue, overestimate your expenses

Nothing causes more panic than projecting a high revenue only to find out that you haven’t met your goal. So, project your revenue conservatively and if you can, double your reserves for the unexpected.

Also, overestimate your expenses – such as those allocated to unfixed costs ~

  • Repairs
  • Replacement costs for equipment
  • Supply cost increases
  • Hiring additional employees

4. Negotiate the best prices with your vendors

It’s a given that we business owners want to purchase at the best wholesale prices. We don’t want to spend more than we have to.

If it’s possible, always negotiate the best prices with your vendors. With your cost-of-goods calculations in hand, work with vendors who can meet your best COGS prices.

Since we purchased a lot of food supplies in bulk, I’ve encountered that most vendors are very open to negotiating and they valued me as a repeat customer.

So, don’t be afraid ask for the best prices.

5. Treat your customers like gold

We think this is the most important of all the steps. Customers drive our business to great success or can squash us like a bug (by a bad review.)

When we started the food cart, Mel and I stressed to our staff that our customer service needs to the most outstanding of anything. We dished out great food but we also strived to show our customers kindness, attentiveness and genuine care in order to build a loyal clientale.

Mel had it down. He just had a knack to engage the customers by treating them as if everyone of the customers were his personal friends. He went above and beyond to treat everyone right.

Also, all our staff were instructed to always say “thank you so much for your business.” Why? Because I myself, do not hear it very often as a customer and it kind of puts me off.

I like to hear that a business was grateful to have my business. So, I wanted all my customers to hear just that – “Thank you so much! We are so grateful to have your business.

We often received compliments on our great customer service. It really helped us gain a loyal following and the positive word-of-mouth advertising was priceless!

6. Hire for attitude, train for skills

This hiring mantra has been used by such companies as Zappo, SW Airlines and Ritz Carlton. It’s not my original idea but I have implemented this as part of my hiring decision.

It makes a lot of sense to hire for attitude. Have you ever worked with someone who, yes, can perform his or her job but has a sucky attitude? I’ve seen it in my own workplace and it is the most difficult thing to deal with.

Employees with an attitude problem can cause low morale and turn customers away. It is something that is also very hard to break. As a manager, I don’t want to correct an employees behavior on a constant basis – it’s inefficient and daunting.

So, if you can, hire for attitude and train them well. To read more about this hiring practice, read’s article, How to hire for great results: Hire winners, not whiners.” 

Ready to write that viral post, build a website, make money doing what you love? Read this post and learn the steps and train with a company that has helped me and tons of other people achieve success step-by-step!

7. Treat your star employees like gold

Why treat your star employees like gold? Because these types of employees are difficult to find and more difficult to replace!

These star employees tend to exemplify ~

  • dependability
  • can-do attitude
  • proficiency
  • efficiency
  • accountability
  •  integrity
  • trustworthiness

Replacing employees, let alone star employees, cost a lot of time and money. It also disrupts productivity and lowers morale.

Value these employees by implementing some of these perks ~

  • a paid day off (without having to use their vacation or pto’s)
  • 30 minute massages during lunch
  • gift card to their fave store/restaurant
  • mid-year bonus
  • extended lunch break
  • gift basket of favorite snacks
  • meaningful card expressing thanks for their service
  • give them a raise (duh!)

There are many more ways to treat your employees like gold. Think of some that may work for your business and budget.

8. Be a boss who does not sit on the “high horse”

Have you ever worked with a boss who acted like he or she was superior to all the employees? What was the work environment like? Probably a very dysfunctional and unstable environment.

In my perspective, being a boss means to lead others and treat your employees with respect. Yes, being a boss has its perks, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to act superior or disrespectful to his or her employees. To have or maintain a successful business, a boss should strive to ~

  • communicate respectfully and don’t resort to tyrannical behavior
  • listen to your employees ideas and don’t talk over them
  • trust that your employees can do a good job and stop micromanaging their every move
  • maintain your composure under stress and do not resort to spinning out of control
  • encourage employee feedback and don’t always think it’s your way or the highway
  • be a leader that inspires not a boss that hinders

9. Love what you do

Maybe this is an obvious one but loving what you do really does make a difference. Granted, you can hate everything about your business but still be really successful – but why did you go into business in the first place? Probably because you had a passion for something.

For me, I love to cook and feeding people makes me happy. So, my two businesses were focused on a food cart and a restaurant. Our online business is focused on helping others understand how to build an online business because we have a passion for helping people. Success tends to follow those who love what they are doing!

10. Have an exit strategy that works

Your business can last for years but there will be a time when you want to retire or sell it. In your business plan, include the type of exit strategy that you desire to execute.

With an exit strategy in place, you will have a good idea of how to negotiate the start of your business and end it in a way that is satisfactory for both you and the buyer.

When we were ready to exit from the food cart business, our exit strategy was written into the business plan. We planned to sublease the food cart with a lease option to purchase. When we sold it to the buyer, the strategy spelled out a month-to-month payment plan with a balloon payment at year two. It was a pretty seamless transaction.

As business owners, our goal is to have a successful business. It takes time, hard work and perseverance to make it happen. Nevertheless, it is an exciting endeavor to see our business take off and watch it grow in the right direction.

We hope that by reading “How to be a successful business ~ A 10 step process” you have received some confirmation that you are on the right track.

If you are just starting out, Mel and I hope you have gained some insightful tips.

Ready to write that viral post, build a website, make money doing what you love? Read this post and learn the steps and train with a company that has helped me and tons of other people achieve success step-by-step!

As always, I would love to know what you have done to be a successful business. Please leave your comments below and share your thoughts!

Again, thank you for reading my post and visiting Liberation 2035. Have a blessed day everyone!

Blessings to all,

Cindy and Mel

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2 Replies to “How To Be A Successful Business ~ A 10 Step Process”

  1. Hi Cindy,

    In my opinion, your ten step process should be taken to heart and followed by everyone starting up a new business. The more so when it is a brick and mortar with hired help.

    I must admit I had not thought of no. 2 on your list, so I will look into this.

    Kind regards and all the best to you,

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