5 Business Musts for 2017

I recently attended a trade show just outside Toronto.  It was bustling with small and medium sized companies displaying their products and offering incentives on their services.  It seemed everyone there was selling.  Not just the vendors that paid four hundred dollars  and more for a display booth, but also the attendees that paid twenty dollars to get in.  Standing back and watching the back and forth I was reminded that business isn’t necessarily easy.  If you build it, they wont necessarily come.

Forbes Magazine in January 2014 posted an article, “7 Big Things a Startup Must Have To Succeed.”  Of course most people in business can recite these off the top of our heads; a sense of timing, simple budget, money, great social skills, follow-through (Stick-to-it-iveness), self discipline and flexibility.   Although these make sense and are a must for just starting, many business owners and sales people are struggling to compete.

At the trade show, the conversation seemed to go like this:

Vendor: “Hello, would you like to try our service?”
Visitor: “Sure maybe but why don’t you try my service?”

Then cards are exchanged and perhaps there is a connection, but perhaps not.

So I have put together my list of 5 Musts for Business Success in 2017.

  1. Remember The Basics:  Sometimes the pressures of business make you forget the basics.  You are in business to make your customers happy and to earn a living.  So strive to be the best.  It is ok to want to be the best.  Keep your service offering simple.  Charge enough so you can always provide the best service to your customers.  Remember you are running a business. Hire the right staff.  Lastly, it is ok to use old technology.  Sometimes people love getting mail.  Yup, just regular mail that is not an invoice or an ad.  A simple thank you letter or card.
  2. Attitude of Gratitude:  Most in business can think of one customer we took for granted and realized the relationship was deteriorating in the background.  Show appreciation to your clients and staff.  Remember, no-one has to do business with you.  There are other companies like yours so have an attitude or appreciation and see how your relationships in business are strengthened.  Try this – Next time you go to a trade show or networking event, walk around smiling as if you appreciate and love being there and see how magnetic it is.
  3. Grow as a leader:  Businesses grow and evolve and so should you.  This may require skills training or learning certain aspects of your business at a higher level.  Do not put it off in 2017.  Remain your businesses greatest asset and stay ahead of technology and trends.  Remember your mentors and reach out to them.  Grow or die is my favorite saying. If you are not growing, your competition is in the process of taking you out.  So grow as a leader as if your business life depends on it.
  4. Build an EcoSystem:  A business can only scale if there is more than just you.  Many people start businesses as single entrepreneurs or with a small group of partners.   At some point, inspiration lags and the business may start to sputter.  Especially if you see areas of desired growth but you put off that step until you or your existing partners have time to allocate to rolling out the new service.  Inevitably this gets pushed until the energy for the project is gone.   Consider accomplishing your goals using third party partners.  This may allow you to offer services to your customers that are delivered through your partner company.
  5. Understand Money:  A question I had when starting out in business is how do I best manage my money?  How do I pay myself?  What is the best way to depreciate an asset?  Are there grants available for me and my company?  Does the government have technology and innovation grants?  What about right-offs and taxes?  It may not be necessary for you to know what an accountant knows, but it can’t hurt to know more than you know now.  When an accountant explains something to you, be sure to know fully what they are talking about.