20 Tips on What is the Key to a Successful Business?

In this post we provide an insight into what the key to a successful business is. We cover a number of tips for achieving success in business.

It doesn’t matter whether you own a business, want to own a business, or play an important managerial role, there are certain traits and habits that you can adopt that will determine whether or not you can be successful in the long term.

The tips I am giving here are more about state of mind and attitude than business financials. It would be easy to include the importance of cash flow, managing stock levels, constraining costs and return on assets etc. but this is not the purpose of this post.

The tips have been grouped are grouped into 4 categories – which we think are the most important personal considerations:

  1. Expectations;
  2. Customers & competition;
  3. Activity Focus;
  4. Getting the Most From Your People

1.      Expectations

This section is about how you expect to achieve success. One of the keys to a successful business is the fact of perseverance and the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

#1 – Create Opportunities—Don’t Wait for Them

Many people who have not achieved success in business are under the impression that opportunities arrive passively. All they have to do is wait for one to show up on the front door; and then grab it. But, in fact, successful business owners and managers know that opportunities are usually created, not stumbled over. So make an effort to create opportunities in your daily work.

Keep your radar tuned to possibilities. If you’re not looking out, you might miss out.

#2 – Don’t Hang Your Hat on Delusional Visions of Overnight Success

While it can be comforting to dream big about your future, having delusions about your success is purely detrimental. It will cause you to set unreasonable goals and attempt to live up to unrealistic expectations.

One of my favorite stories is that of Picasso when he was asked for an autograph. His reply went something along the lines of – “Yes, butt that will be $50,000.” The autograph hunter was astonished – “But it will only take 5 seconds”, to which Picasso replied – “No, it took over 50 years.”

The Beatles “overnight” success came after several years playing 3 sets a day, 7 days a week at a club in Hamburg. Success takes time, be patient.

#3 – Be Persistent

In business, as in many other fields, one of the main keys to success is persistence.

Persistence will determine whether you push ahead or give up altogether. And persistence will determine whether you eventually break through as a leader in your field; or whether you allow everyone else to walk over you to get to the top.

2.      Customers & Competition

#4 – Create a Product that People Actually Want to Buy

One thing you don’t hear often from successful people is how they swindled a bunch of people into buying a low-quality product for a high-price. To the contrary, they will usually regale you with stories of how they beat competitors by offering a lower price or a better product.

Providing your customers with the best value is one of the most effective business strategies you can adopt. It works brilliantly when times are tough – as you’ll outlast your lower value competitors.

#5 – Differentiate Yourself from Competitors

Whether you are competing for a promotion at work or competing with another business, differentiating yourself from your competitors is usually a good idea. Now, if you’re friends with the competition, then this is a more delicate task.

However, your goal should always be to spell out to either your boss or your customers (whichever case is the relevant one) that you have certain qualities that are desirable. This will often be sufficient, even without saying anything additional about other businesses or your co-workers.

#6 – Keep Your Customers’ Best Interests at Mind

Following the general theme of the previous tips, keeping your customers’ best interests in mind is vital. It will not only keep you focused on creating products that they’ll appreciate and use, but it will also keep you satisfied with your job.

#7 – Find Out Which Forms of Advertising Generate Revenue—And Which Do Not

In business, marketing can do a lot to transform your business. It can expand the audience for your product, persuade the existing audience, or it can provide no benefits at all while incurring massive costs.

One of the fathers of modern marketing – David Ogilvie, once said “We know that half of our advertising doesn’t work – we just don’t know which half.”

Those who are successful in business pay attention to their advertising, so they can determine which forms are beneficial and which forms should be discontinued. A more effective campaign is better than a larger one.

3.      Activity Focus

#8 – Stop Doing Things that Don’t Work

From time to time, you will determine that things don’t work—or at least they don’t work as well as they should. When this happens, you can take one of two paths. The first path ignores the problem and hopes that things get better. And the second puts an end to it by modifying your approach or discontinuing to do the thing that isn’t working. If you want to be successful, you will learn to have the courage to do the latter.

#9 – Take Action Immediately

Thoughts and actions are two very different things. And this is something the successful know very well. They know that coming up with a good idea is completely useless if you cannot implement it—or cannot give it to someone who can. So get in the habit of not only thinking of new things, but of taking action swiftly.

#10 – Create Networks with Other Business Owners

Another important part of success in business is networking with other managers and business owners. Find out how they run their businesses; and see whether you can learn from them or work with them in some complementary fashion.

It’s lonely at the top, and having other heads to consult with outside your own business is invaluable. As well as networking with other business owners, the establishment of Advisory Boards is becoming more popular.

#11 – Always Improve Your Business Processes

Along with being a continuous learner, you should try to be a continuous improver, too. Wherever your business is lacking, make it better. And wherever you see room for improvement, make an improvement.

No matter how efficient you think your business is managed, there are almost always opportunities for improvement. It’s just a matter of finding these opportunities and exploiting them to streamline how your business functions.

In business, efficiency is prized. It’s not enough to simply do something well, you must also do it well and fast. Successful people do this; and you should, too.

#12 – Keep Things Simple

Simplicity is often underrated. In fact, many business owners are prone to believing that if something is simple, then it cannot be true. After all, the world is a complex place, so it cannot be the case that a solution to a problem in business can be simple.

In fact, many of the more successful innovations in business are simple. So, think twice before you taking things up a notch in terms of complexity. Instead, think about using solutions that are simple, elegant, communicable, and likely to work.

4.        Getting the Most From Your People

#13 – Take Control of Your Role in the Business

When it comes to business, staying in control means a lot. It means that you not only prevent other businesses from dictating an agenda for you, but it also means that you firmly seize control of your own density. If you want to be successful, then you must be willing to take control.

#14 – Delegate Tasks to Others

If you ever want to match the success of some of your heroes, you will need to learn how to delegate tasks to others. Often, the most important trait that makes people successful is that they are willing and able to break down and a large task; and efficiently and intelligently allocate its pieces to employees.

#15 – Do Not Ask too Much of Your Employees

You might be tempted to squeeze every last cent out of your employees, but instead consider what the successful often do: they try to keep costs low, but at the same time, when they need talent, they pay for it. Keep this in mind when hiring and when giving raises.

#16 – Do Not Compete with Your Staff; Help Them and Learn How They Can Help You

Being successful means being secure. And being secure means that you don’t feel the need to compete with your co-workers, but instead focus on competing with other businesses.

Seek to inspire confidence in those around you. Rather than tearing down your fellow co-workers, make every attempt possible to build them up. Having a confident staff around you will multiply the returns you reap from your own efforts.

#17 – Facilitate Discussion

Another important trait of business leaders who are successful is their ability to facilitate discussion. Not only do they have good ideas themselves, but also they find ways to tease good ideas out of otherwise quiet co-workers.

Thick skin is a valuable asset in business. It means not only having the ability to listen to and assimilate praise, but also to brush off direct insults and valuable, but critical comments. If you want to be successful in business, you must have thick skin and you must always ask for comments—be they good or bad.

#18 – Avoid Getting Irrationally Defensive

Becoming defensive is a natural response to getting cornered. Instead of opening up to criticism and assimilating suggestions, we start shooting down any comment directed at us, be it useful or not. If you want to be successful in business, you must learn to resist the urge to become defensive.

#19 – Do Not Allow Your Personal Life to Interfere with Your Business Life

No matter what is going in on your personal life, remember to keep work at work and home life at home. Don’t allow a stressful situation with a friend or a relative spill over into your work and prevent you from being effective.

#20 – Do Not Make Questionable Decisions that Will Prevent You From Sleeping at Night

In business, opportunities abound to make questionable decisions from which you can profit. This might involve lying about your product or tricking your co – workers. In general, successful people know not to go this route, but instead to focus on making money legitimately and in a way that doesn’t harm or trick others.


These 20 Tips on What is the Key to a Successful Business are really not much more than short notes to get you thinking along the right lines. Any one of these tips can be expanded. into whole topics. We recommend continual learning and reading to build your skills and competencies. Remember, this is not a short sprint – you are in business for the long haul. You are building your future.


Brian Tracy’s Business Package – How You Can Start, Build, Manage or Turnaround Any Business.

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