Cooking a business: The ingredients for success

By Lee Sharma, founder and CEO of Simply Do

We are often told that more than half of all new businesses fail within the first five years. Those entrepreneurs that do take the plunge are always on the lookout for hints and tips on how to find the best recipe for success. There has been plenty written on how to build a successful business, but there is one key factor which holds true in all stages of venture creation and cannot be understated; you are your business.

Entrepreneurs live and breathe their ideas, and everything about the business will stem from your drive and individual character. The best way to ensure success for your business is to continually seek to further yourself and develop your skills. There are many fantastic business-focused courses in the market.

All of our staff are encouraged to complete courses with Tech City UK’s Digital Business Academy, a free initiative offered to all residents of the UK looking to increase their digital and business literacy. Our social media strategy, for example, was developed after our engagement manager had completed a couple of Digital Business Academy’s modules on the subject.

Through these business courses, we have identified a set of magical ingredients for business owners to check themselves against. These ingredients are the Magic P’s:

  1. Passion: When you start a business, you make a commitment; for better and for worse, in sickness and in health. In reality, you are not always going to love your business but you should be passionate about the work, the lifestyle and, most importantly, your customers. If you aren’t then you need to relight your fires by spending some time on the areas of the business that excite you the most.
  2. Planning: It may seem an obvious point that a business venture needs a plan, but businesses often reflect their founders, so you shouldn’t neglect planning your life either. This means keeping healthy and happy with time for family, friends, relaxation and exercise: one survey showed that one fifth of small business owners weren’t planning on taking a single day off over the summer – a worrying statistic!
  3. Pitching: As an entrepreneur, you are always pitching at some level. This doesn’t have to mean being a charisma-fuelled extrovert capable of holding an audience captive for hours; you just need to be able to communicate your key messages clearly and passionately.
  4. Performance: The strain of competing with selected rivals can be exhausting. It is perhaps more constructive to think about performance differently and just aim to better yourself every day; so think yoga not boxing! For example, when Simply Do went through a growth stage and needed external investment, I took to the Digital Business Academy to learn how to structure an investment proposal. And so, as I develop my skills, my business can develop with me.
  5. Pounds: A common issue with any business is keeping track of the pounds. If this isn’t something you are keen on doing then be sure to have someone else doing this for you, whether a family member or a firm of accountants. A huge sense of control will return once the financial cloud clears.
  6. Perseverance: There are countless tales as to the value of perseverance, ranging from Thomas Edison to James Dyson. In any challenge, whether a business, a run or a detox, when the going gets tough, our brains will start screaming at us to give up. This is when surrounding yourself with trusted people will see you through.
  7. Perception: Underpinning everything else, it is appropriate that this is left to last; you have to truly believe that you can make your business a success. The best way to build self-belief is through positive experiences. Set challenging but achievable objectives and make sure you celebrate these successes when you get there!

We should all take the time every now and then to check ourselves against the above ingredients of success. It is an important aspect of personal and professional development to reflect and consider where we could learn and improve, and from this individual growth business success will surely follow.