As an advisor to small business owners, I have often worked with very successful people who seem to have it all together and then there are some who could have taken a strategic step back before plunging into their own business. Here are the top insights I give my clients who come to me looking to start their own business. Financial acumen Whatever the reason of starting your business, or which end of the spectrum your business is in, financial success is imperative for the success of your business. To achieve business success, an entrepreneur must have some degree of financial acumen and understanding. I have seen many young entrepreneurs rush out to launch their own enterprises only to fall flat when they lack this critical skill set. While you don’t need to be an accountant to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to acquire the basic understanding of accounting systems, processes and financial statements. After all, the buck stops with you. You also need to find experienced professionals who can help you. Cloud technology has made the process a lot simpler for entrepreneurs. Using online accounting platforms with your accountant certainly makes life easier and eliminates the laborious task of manually filing BAS returns. Developments in recent years in this area have made understanding your financials much more palatable and the entrepreneurial journey much smoother, which is why it’s something we continuously aim to be ahead of the game on here too. Avoid the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff – Clarify your vision and create a business plan To achieve long-term success as an entrepreneur, you must have foresight and a clear vision in mind. How you implement that vision and develop the product/service will ultimately determine your success. There are many people who say that business plans are a waste of time for a start-up due to the dynamic and evolving nature of such enterprises. However I don’t agree. Planning is essential for any business. The business plan simply documents those plans along with goals, objectives and targets. At the very least, the entrepreneur must have a detailed action plan outlining the future course of action so that the business idea can be executed successfully and help take the business forward, assign responsibilities and hold team members accountable. Once the business is underway, the workload involved can make it very challenging to create a strategic plan to address challenges and opportunities that arise (and they will). Reacting to the unexpected as it arises is the business equivalent of the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’. I often advise first time entrepreneurs to adopt the NOW, WHERE and HOW approach that considerably eases the strategic planning process. The approach at the NOW stage analyses the current situation of the business. What the business is doing right now. The WHERE stage enables that analysis of the proposed future situation is taken into consideration with short-term and long-term goals clearly laid out to provide a sense of purpose and direction for the business. Finally, the HOW approach outlines how the business will achieve its desired results, which path it will take to make the business dream a reality. Be adaptable, and continuously work on the business. Young entrepreneurs often begin their journey with a lot of zest and enthusiasm. Their vigour and passion to overcome all obstacles no matter what the challenge leads them to believe that nothing is impossible and success will be just around the corner. This is a great mind-set, however, once the entrepreneurs have taken the initial jump and set up their business, they get so immersed in their day to day activities such as product development, managing suppliers/customers and chasing debts that they often overlook strategic opportunities. To quote the famous Michael Gerber, you need to be working “on” the business as well as working “in” the business to succeed. The end result often is that despite early success, the entrepreneurs end up running out of energy, enthusiasm and often money as well. Being strategic about your business and keeping on top of and constantly adapting to the business environment will increase your chances of success. Reviewing, Refining and fine tuning your business plans is will set you on the path to achieve this.