The Small Business Success Cycle

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things that a small business owner can do for themselves is to set themselves up for success as quickly as possible. And one very effective way to do that is to create a cycle of success that provides positive, repeatable results, yet also allows you to stretch yourself to new heights.

When you are creating a cycle of success, you want to keep a few things in mind. One is to make sure that it keeps you focused both on actions as well as the end results. Another is that it should allow you to have creative freedom yet still hold you accountable. And lastly, it needs to be a repeatable sequence that allows you to change direction at any time, as well as continue to reach new levels of success over and over again for a long period of time.

So, for the small business owners I help, these are the six steps I teach to create the best success cycle for repeatable, positive results:


1. Know what you want 

Most business owners know what they “don’t” want: They don’t want to fail, they don’t want annoying customers, they don’t want employees who are unproductive. But that doesn’t help you to accomplish your most important goals. So, be crystal clear on your goals and paint yourself a vivid picture of what your end results should look like. Revenue? How much? $100,000? $1 million? What about your workforce/employees? Do you want 5? 25? 1200? How many? The more detailed and clear you are on the end results you’re striving for, the easier the rest of the cycle will be to implement.

Keep in mind that if a goal is tied to a number, it is much easier to measure, track and achieve. Here is a list of possible areas to set clear and specific goals in: (Remember, be as detailed as possible!)

  • Revenue generation

  • Employee engagement

  • Expanding your workforce

  • Building clientele

  • Expanding your online presence

  • Efficiency of sales funnel

  • Quality of customer service

  • New product creation

Related: 5 Secrets to Success in Business

2. Have a plan 

Knowing what you want to achieve is always great, as it provides direction. However, just setting a goal is not enough. You need to know the “how.” You need to know what actions you should be taking each day and week to achieve the goal. So, what’s your plan? Does it include daily, weekly and monthly action items? Looking at your business and industry. What are the smartest action items you be should taking? What actions can you take that will get you closest to your goals?

Here are some action item examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Time-blocking your calendar

  • Scheduling and meeting with each team member

  • Picking up the phone and calling 100 past clients

  • Sending out 500 personalized emails

  • Sending out 100 personalized letters or cards

  • Attending every chamber of commerce event for one year

  • Remember: By failing to plan, you’re planning to fail.

3. Have a teacher to help 

Right here is the BIGGEST gap that business owners have. And the main reason that they don’t have someone helping is that they never want to ask for help. In our society, it is always better when you “do it all yourself.” Like the old Frank Sinatra song, “I Did it My Way!” It’s as though asking for help diminishes the impact of the results somehow, but it’s a lie told by fear and ego. Don’t listen to it!

Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Muhammed Ali — they all had coaches, and they were all world champions. EVERY real champion has a coach, so if you don’t, well, just enjoy the struggle, then.

But, if you want to get a coach, where do you look? Who would be a good coach? How do I ask someone to be a coach? Great questions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A business owner in your industry more successful than you

  • A business owner in a different industry who is more successful than you

  • An experienced business coach

  • Accountant or attorney (can help coach in their areas of expertise)

  • Look in the Chamber of Commerce, B&I groups, etc.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Should Have a Business Coach

4. Take consistent action 

Usually this step isn’t so hard. Most small business owners are doers, and they can get stuff done. The difference here is that now you’ll know exactly what you’ll be doing each day, because you created a plan of action in step 2. Each day, you’ll simply look at the list of action steps and then, well, do it.

But here’s the rub: You need to stick with these actions over a long period of time. Doing something once or twice is not enough to produce sustainable results, at least not when you’re looking for a high level of success in the world of business. Think about the boxers I just mentioned; not one of them were champions overnight. They all had to train for years, had tough fights that challenged them, and yet still kept fighting to reach success. That is what you must do as a business owner.

Just remember: The secret to success at this step is to focus-in the word “consistent.” Anybody can take action, but not every business owner can stay consistent for the long haul.

5. Review your progress 

Sounds simple, yet far too many business owners almost refuse to look at the results they get. Usually, it’s because they know the results aren’t good. That doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that as a business owner, you know where you stand. When you know that, even if you don’t like the results, it allows you to better manage your plan of action. Every business does a course correction now and again, so honestly, it’s no big deal. Actually, it’s expected in today’s ever-changing environment if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

So, look at your results, and begin to ask questions. Once you start asking questions, similar to the ones below, you’ll discover that the answers (new goals) will come faster and easier the more you conduct this step!

Here are a few questions to ask as you conduct your review:

  • Where are you now and where do you want to be?

  • How far off are you from where you want to be?

  • What can be done to decrease the gap?

  • What extra staffing do you need?

  • What extra funding do you need?

  • Who can help with this?

  • What new products or services need to be created?

  • What new advertising and/or marketing need to be done?

Related: The Best Way to Track Your Company’s Performance

6. Renew your goals 

Before you think that this is the easy step, think again. To continue to climb the ladder of success for your business, you need to be as detailed here as you were in the very first step. Be clear. Be concise. Be as detailed as possible.

This step is also crucial for this cycle of success to work, because it helps you to avoid resting on your past accomplishments. Far too many small business owners will make some achievements, get some results, and then take a break … for like a year or two. Don’t let this be you.

So, be serious about the fifth step, review your progress, because if you do that right, then you’ll find your new goals.

Here are some ideas to help make this easy and even fun:

  • Make the goal exciting.

  • Make the goal motivating.

  • Make the goal meaningful.

  • Make the goal impactful on a personal level.

  • Make the goal challenging.

  • Make the goal force you out of your comfort zone.

  • Make the goal attached to a number for better tracking.

  • Give the goal a deadline.

Pro Tip: A cycle is just that, something that continues to cycle over and over again. It is not designed to be a one-time thing, but a business-lifestyle thing. So, be very clear about what you want, be clear about what action steps need to be taken, and be extremely picky on who you get to help you. But above all, be as assertive as possible when it comes to taking action and getting the results you’re looking for.

Oh, one more thing: Have fun.

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This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com