What is success?

Is it money? Status? Happiness? Property? An empire?

How do we define how we would measure success in business?


Defining Success in Business

Business success takes on a myriad of definitions. However, if you consider the concept of ‘business’, the central measure to success is sustainability. If a business is sustainable, it has the internal strength and resilience to withstand shifts in the market, changes in the external environment, and unexpected actions. A stable business does not become strong by standing still. It grows with the economy, innovates as is necessary, and protects itself from threats.

The 5 Keys to Business Success

Acknowledging that there are numerous keys which will adapt for each environment, the 5 keys to business success are:

  1. Providing a great product or service

This sounds so simple and obvious. Yet, how many businesses do you know who went out of business because of a lack of demand or the inability to produce a quality product?

What you sell needs to be what the market wants and is willing to spend money on. Your initial business concept, even if it adapts over time, is what will determine your success. Comprehensive research cannot be overestimated at this stage. So often what we believe is a brilliant idea is not seen this way by the market. Conversely, we all know someone who had a business idea, imagined that it would not work, and then watched someone else become a millionaire off that same idea.

  1. A workable Business Plan

One of the greatest misconceptions is that a business plan is an academic document that serves no purpose unless you’re looking for a business investor.

It is completely the opposite. Your business plan is exactly that: A plan which analyses where your business wants to go, what steps it must take to get there, and what will help or hinder that process. What has just been said in a sentence can take over a year to structure into a business. Without a plan, you are going nowhere, and you don’t even know it.

  1. Competencies

People are your greatest competitive advantage. It is through the decisions that they make, the actions that they take, and their interest in the business that your company will achieve. Understanding competence is not just a matter of knowing who needs to do what. It is an in-depth analysis of how things should be done to gain the greatest value from them:

Competencies refer to the knowledge, skills, experience, abilities, and behaviours required in management. This definition of competence is taken from Dr Elana Siew’s book, Competence Refined available on Amazon.com.

  1. Keeping your eye on the Money

Understanding that money is not the only motivator in business, it is certainly required to keep a business in business. Increasing profits and limiting costs are the basic formula to ensuring your business’ sustainability. Keeping overheads and waste to a minimum ensures that the business functions effectively, forming a foundation to maximise its top line and make profits.

  1. Decision Making

The greatest differentiator in business is how you make your decisions. This resides on the values of the business, such as:

    • How important are the staff?
    • What the main outcome from the situation must be?
    • Where the business wants to be positioned in the market?
    • How much money will be enough?
    • Is the business an innovator or imitator?
    • What resources do you have available?
    • Who is accountable for the final decision?

As much as the definition of success is a personal construct, so too can business success be defined in personal terms.

However, with business the common denominator is that success is defined within the realm of the business environment, making it bound by certain criteria and competitive stances. To be successful in business is to establish a company that people enjoy working in everyday, making good decisions, keeping costs to a minimum, enjoying profits, and making a contribution to society.