Is there really a single secret to business success? Maybe not, but it’s always fun to hear what entrepreneurs say about what helped them reach the top.
We asked a handful of startup founders and executives about the tips, tricks, and secrets to success in the world – here’s what they had to say.
Your business may begin as a solo endeavor, but before long, you’ll need to bring on some help from friends, people in your network, and beyond.
“The key to business success is to surround yourself with amazing people and to continue to experiment and learn without giving up,” said Meghan Maupin, CEO of Atolla. “I am fortunate to have started Atolla with two amazing co-founders and we combined our collective knowledge in design, data science, and dermatology to create an entirely new experience in skincare. We continue to experiment constantly, always trying to prove a hypothesis or answer a key question, and we rely heavily on our customers to give us feedback and direction on what to build next.”
Many hiring mistakes have marked the beginning of the end for companies throughout history, so be careful with your picks.
What do you think is better – working 12-hour days for a one-month stretch, or putting in just a bit of work every day in a more consistent manner for years?
“Consistency is the secret that seems so obvious, but nobody seems to want to talk about it,” said Sean O’Brien, CMO of Modloft. “When you show up and make progress every day, you’ll hit your goals eventually, as long as you remain on target.”
The more consistent your efforts, the more likely your business will come together and pan out.
Put in the Time
You can make more progress than you think with just a bit of work each day, and this is often how people start businesses while working full-time jobs.
“Spend 15 minutes per day doing something that may not be your favorite, but is important to building the company,” said Bari Suzanne, COO of Stabili-Teeth. “Whether that be spending 15 minutes straight answering emails, inquiries, writing a one-pager, etc. It goes by fast and is beneficial in the end.”
Quitting your job may not be too smart right away, so build up a business on the side before taking that leap.
Lessons from Experience
It takes time to gain the confidence and technical know-how to start a business, so don’t rush it. However, when you’ve got the right mindset and skill set, it’s time to get to work.
“When my co-founder Dan and I were developing the app, we took lessons from previous experiences and chose to have fewer vanity metrics, one specific was not including subscriber counts to the community profiles,” said Tyler Faux, CEO and Co-Founder of Supergreat. “We wanted the users to feel like they are a part of a community and not pitting against each other for views and follows. Since beauty trends cycle almost quarterly, we leaned on growing our Supergreat community through word-of-mouth concept and organic reviews to help consumers make purchasing decisions.”
All that work you’ve put in over the years will pay off, as long as you make the decision to go for it.
If you don’t track your progress on key projects and goals, you can’t expect to see your business come together in a meaningful way.
“At the end of the day, I write down everything that I worked on in terms of major projects and how it is progressing,” said Olivia Young, Head of Product Design at Conscious Items. “I look back at those notes every day and it helps me to focus on where it is heading, and at the end it is great to see where we started and how we ended. If it ends well, I can go back and follow those notes, if not it is easy to adjust.”
Thanks to productivity software and project management tools, it’s easier than ever to track your progress and make strides in the right direction.
Knowledge is Power
Not only do you need to build up your knowledge to start a business and overcome obstacles, but this knowledge must be shared with everyone around you to multiply success.
“We will ensure that associates continue to possess unsurpassed product knowledge and maintain their dedication to customer service and respect for their colleagues and for the communities in which they work and live,” said Arthur Blank, Co-Founder of The Home Depot.
Be generous with your input and assistance, because it will all come back around to help you.
Simplicity in Action
When we get a great idea, our minds immediately start making things more complicated than they need to be.
“There is so much power in a simple idea, and that is something of a secret in today’s business world that tries to overcomplicate everything,” said Sunny Mills, Design and Production Director at Yoga Club. “Our business is not super complex, but it solves some key problems and makes people happy – that’s why we’ve found success so far.”
Products, services, marketing – any way you can simplify your business, it’s worth the effort.
Create a Niche
Some niches are saturated, that’s for sure. However, many haven’t yet been tapped, and it’s your mission to create a new class of products that customers will love.
“We’ve led a successful product launch of De La Calle’s Tepache during a pandemic because we are a unique product in a competitive market,” said Alex Mathews, Co-Founder of De La Calle. “Tepache is a pre-Columbus Mexico drink rooted in culture with recipes passed down in families to this day. We understood our brand’s story would individualize our product in the market. Through our graphics, mission, values, and ingredients our brand’s cultural identity is evident to our consumers.”
When you are the biggest name in a particular niche, that’s how you instantly level up your business.
Track the Trends
Nowadays, a product or service can be in the spotlight for just a few days, and then – poof! It’s gone. Don’t let this happen to your business, and stay ahead of key trends.
“Being able to identify trends and get ahead of the curve with in-demand services is definitely a superpower in today’s business climate, which moves and evolves so quickly,” said Dr. Zachary Okhah, Founder and Chief Surgeon at PH-1 Miami. “Be aware of where your industry is headed and get out in front of the next big thing, whatever that is.”
If your business offers more evergreen products, you’ll still want to be on top of trends in marketing, social media, and so forth.
Better Every Day
When you look back on your day, can you honestly say that you made an improvement over the day before? That’s the key question to ask yourself at the end of each day.
“My secret to success is working to be 1% better every day,” said Guy Bar, Founder and CEO of Hygear. “It adds up quickly over time and it creates a huge impact.”
Just 1% improvement might not seem like much, but like compound interest, the long term effects are tremendous.
Build on Foundations
Everyone wants to create an expansive, all-encompassing business empire immediately, but that’s just not realistic. Start small with products you know well and build from there.
“In 2018, the initial launch of the first SBLA product was an enormous success, generating over 8.3 Million in sales in the first five months of operations,” said Randi Shinder, CEO of SBLA. “Since SBLA exploded into the digital market, SBLA has grown beyond its signature product. The company transitioned SBLA Beauty to better showcase its commitment to the science behind the beauty products and its expanding portfolio. It is this forward-thinking and understanding of the market that has led me throughout my career.”
A business will grow naturally with strong foundations, so don’t get ahead of yourself.
Real Human Being
As you ascend in the world of business, it’s easy to forget the simple truths that helped you achieve success in the first place. Treating people well and with respect is one of those things that can sometimes be overlooked.
“Never underestimate the power of the human element,” said Ramez Faza, Sr. Account Manager at J.D. Power and Associates. “Whether it’s assisting a guest with a special request or a friendly greeting from staff members in the hallway, the people aspect plays a key role in guest satisfaction and loyalty.”
Don’t forget the people who helped you on your journey, and burn no bridges!
Think Beyond Yourself
There’s nothing wrong with wanting money and some recognition for your efforts. That’s just part of the business world. But when you work in service for others and create products that change their lives for the better, success is inevitable.
“Get into the fundamental mindset of serving others rather than achieving business goals merely for personal gain,” said Chris Caouette, Co-Founder of Gorilla Bow. “The people around you, whether it be your customers or your co-workers, will be able to tell whether you’re truly living to serve and to support them. When people appreciate you for supporting them, they will support you back, and you need this sense of loyalty and encouragement from others to help sustain your business.”
When your business helps others and inspires positive change, there is simply no way you can fail.
Trust in Your Work
The types of people who start businesses are their own biggest fans. It’s not always a matter of inflated ego, but just a strong sense of self-belief and healthy confidence.
“You need to believe in the products you create and the impact you’re making on the world, which cannot be faked or simulated,” said Darren Litt, Co-Founder of MarketerHire. “It needs to be authentic and sustained, or else it won’t work long term.”
Be your own best supporter when starting a company, because external sources of motivation will come and go with the wind.
This is a bit of a buzzword, but the meaning is well understood. Do everything you can to build brand awareness, even if you haven’t hammered out every aspect of your business to perfection.
“Word of mouth has given us the biggest reach in brand awareness and customer engagement online,” said Bellanca Smigel Rutter, President of Supersmile. “When people use our products, they tell others. Today we are able to amplify that word of mouth with our presence on social media, and the posts from influencers, dentists and everyone else talking about their success with using Supersmile.”
Buzz is everything in the age of the internet, so don’t hesitate to go all-out on branding and outreach.
Listen to Feedback
There will be an endless flow of feedback coming across your desk when you start a business, and nothing can change that. Be ready to not only read and acknowledge feedback, but also make changes when needed.
“At Ivee, our secret to business success is genuinely engaging with our patients and taking their feedback seriously in the way that we provide our health and wellness services,” said Amber Theurer, CMO at Ivee. “This allows us to build a connection based on trust with our clients that keeps them coming back and organically encourages them to share their positive experiences with us with friends and family who also may choose us as a health and wellness solution as a result.”
When feedback is taken seriously, customers notice, and this does wonders for brand loyalty.
Just passively waiting for feedback isn’t always enough, especially in certain industries that are extremely focused on the customer experience.
“My secret to building success within the healthcare industry is by being over communicative and listening to what our customers and clients are wanting,” said Kiran Gollakota, Co-Founder of Waltham Clinic. “It is important to provide services that your clients are truly wanting and to fulfill their needs. That is what healthcare is all about, serving those who are in need. When you are service-minded, you will be successful.”
Set up a system to filter and address feedback so that you never miss a beat.
Top entrepreneurs are notoriously focused on a single goal, but they also balance this steadfast approach with an open mind – not an easy thing to pull off.
“Having an open mind at all times has gone a long way for me,” said Jason Wong, Founder and CEO of Doe Lashes. “When teams have ideas or want to experiment on a project, let them. Hear out the strategy and be open to it, you never know what next idea will be the success you need for the year to get over the line.”
The key is to know when open-mindedness will help you out, and when you need to crack down on the task at hand.
Find New Angles
Think that your industry is saturated or there’s no place in the market for a company like yours? It’s time to double down on messaging and set your brand apart.
“There’s always an angle you can take to differentiate your business and make it more appealing to your target client base,” said Michael Scott Cohen, CEO of Harper and Scott. “Avoid putting yourself into a single, unmovable category and constantly search for that leverage.”
Considering that new businesses are succeeding all the time, you have no excuse of your own.
When you get a taste of success in business, it’s only natural to celebrate and give yourself a pat on the back. However, you can’t let yourself slow down or stagnate, because that’s how progress is lost.
“Become comfortable with never being satisfied, because that’s a key to success that applies to everything in life,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of TatBrow. “The second you hit the brakes and become too comfortable, that’s when you might start to slip and go in reverse.”
You can enjoy life and still push yourself forward – that’s the balancing act we all want to achieve.
We sometimes think of entrepreneurship as a one-person show, but when you’re in the trenches starting a business, you need all the help you can get. Build teams you trust and take some pressure off yourself.
“My secret to success is always collaborating with my team,” said Derin Oyekan, Founder and CEO of Reel Paper. “Listening and hearing them out, figuring out team goals together, and laying out pathways to get there together. Collaboration is key when it comes to success.”
Some business secrets are just common sense, while others take years to figure out firsthand. Identify the key factors that contribute to your business success or hold you back, and keep looking for ways to level up.