What it takes for entrepreneurs and small business owners to be successful can vary from person to person, and industry to industry. There's no one thing that makes one person succeed and another fail.
But, this is not about everything you need to succeed, this is 'truth gun to the head', pick the single most important contributing factor to success in business.
Cast your vote
Voting is easy. Simply pick one or more of the factors (that you believe are the single most important for success) listed in the table below to share your vote via Twitter. We'll tally up the votes and add the results below as they come in.
1. Come up with a brilliant idea
2. Hire the right people
3. Create a well researched business plan
4. Have a top class, responsive website
5. Offer a fantastic product or service
6. Provide great customer service & support
7. Be a good networker (who you know)
8. Become an authority & expert (what you know)
9. Be a great marketer (PPC, social, content, etc)
10. Other (tweet your own)
Having trouble deciding?
Starting a successful business might rely on any number of critical factors that, if completely absent, guarantee failure.
An example of a crucial factor like this might be a website for an eCommerce store - there's no guarantee that an eCommerce business website with a website will succeed, but you are pretty much guaranteed that it will fail without it.
So is having a website more important than having a great product or service to sell? Maybe it is. There are plenty of shops doing quite well for themselves selling inferior or overpriced goods. Do they rely on excellent marketing to gloss over their other deficits? Maybe they do. So is marketing more important than products?
The point of this vote is not for you to cover all the bases. It's to get an aggregate view of what thousands of entrepreneurs and business people think in general. But, if you really can't decide between two options, vote for both of them.
If you can't find any option that you think is the most important one, then share what you would vote for in the comments below and we'll add it to the list.
Factors contributing to success
I thought I would give a brief overview of how I see each of the factors up for voting, along with a few resources that might be of help in your own business venture.
Come up with a brilliant idea
If you've spent a lot of time pulling your hair out wondering why everyone else seems to be happily working away at growing their business when you can't even come up with an idea, then this article how to find your best business idea will help.
You can also browse our huge list of small business ideas for inspiration.
Create a great business plan
It doesn't matter what type of business you are starting. It's worth looking at a free business plan template that will help guide you in the right direction. Spending time on researching your market, value offering, and other factors that impact your business might prove to be invaluable in the long run.
Have a top class responsive website
For most startups and small business owners who aren't tech savvy and oozing with mad Web design skills, building a website can be a time consuming and expensive ordeal. But, it doesn't have to be that way.
Check out this forum answer on which website builder is the best for SEO? for a list of the top website builders ranked by their search optimization performance for more on how to get started quickly, easily and cheaply.
Offer a fantastic product
How do you really know whether the products you have sourced to sell in your own store are performing better than the competition? It can be difficult to really understand which products are best suited for your clients and which offer the best profitability.
Check out section 6 in the article entitled How to sell on Amazon for some advice on services that can help you understand how competing products are selling via the Amazon marketplace.
Provide great customer service
Here's how I look at the issue:
"Customer service is one of the best marketing channels available to any business"
Not only is customer service a great opportunity to reach out and connect with people who are supporting your business, it is also (often) a chance to take a negative/neutral experience and turn it into a positive one (which hopefully ends in great reviews and testimonials).
You can take a look at some of our top customer service tips for more on how to use it to your advantage.
I'm sure you've got plenty of other ideas and tips on how to be successful as an entrepreneur or small business owner. Share your expertise in the comments below.