Vote on the factor that you think most influences business success

Vote on how to be succesful

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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.

top home office gadgets

If you are starting or running a work from home business then this list of the top 10 most useful desktop gadgets will definitely make your work life more productive.

I'm not a particularly tech gadget type person, and my work-space is a little on the bland side - but after researching office gadgets for this article, I'm definitely going to be investing in a few that will make my life easier.

So, whether you are running an eCommerce store from your garage, or blogging up a storm from a local coffee shop, this list should help you discover some cool, but practical, tech stuff.

Our favourite blogs for entrepreneurs. Pic by jakeandlindsay

Despite spending most of my time working on my own startups, I find myself drawn to reading about what other people are up to, or making use of - whether it

Here are some great ideas that incorporate free stuff (products and services) in order to generate trust, and improve revenue.

Most consumers like getting free stuff (especially online consumers), so giving away a valuable free offering can help to drive traffic, generate buzz, earn trust, and make money.

This article will give you five great ideas for free product and service offerings that you can integrate into an existing organization or use to help grow a startup.

Tools and tips on how to source products online

Small retail businesses and eCommerce sites need to consistently choose the best products to sell in order to maximize their profits.

But trying to find this information is not always easy, and there are plenty of "silver bullet" sites (and con men) that will try to make a profit by advising you to stock products that give them commission.

It's far better to be able to do your own research into which products offer the best value for money for your own customers and clients. After all, you know your business best.

Fiverr Gigs that help online businesses

Fiverr is an online marketplace offering a huge range of services (from the sublime to the ridiculous) that startups can utilize, for only five dollars.

If you're wondering what service could possibly offer any value for only $5, then you are in exactly the same boat I was.

Most of the services (called gigs) that are available on fiverr are probably not even worth the five bucks they charge. But, if you are willing to dig a bit deeper, there are a few gems that can save you a lot of time and money.

Grumpy cat Internet sensation

In case you haven't already heard, there's a little kitty out there with feline dwarfism that earns more than you do.

Grumpy cat, according to Wikipedia, seems to be raking in millions of dollars, and this might strike you as odd given how difficult it is to start a successful enterprise these days.

Great free software for people working from home

Having a home business or work from home job means that your PC will need to be packed with functionality to help facilitate day-to-day tasks.

Intro to cloud technology

Among their top 3 challenges, according to most business leaders, is the ability to keep pace with new technology - like the cloud.

Being able to understand what new technology offers and how to use it to increase productivity and maintain competitiveness is not easy, because technology moves moves faster than our ability to keep up.

Small businesses, in this regard, have a distinct advantage over larger ones, and we might well be entering an age where small companies start out-competing big ones because of technology.

Ranking the Best Laptop Deals

Trying to find cheap laptop deals which also offer great quality and great overall value for money is tricky.

Successful online business without Google traffic

Organic search traffic from Google is so valuable that many businesses come to rely on it as their primary source of income.

And while it may seem that the sun will never set on high converting organic traffic from the search giant, you might want to think about what would happen to your enterprise if the flow dried up.

I've experienced both the frustration and despair of losing Google traffic to an unknown and unexplained penalty (only large, important businesses get the information they need to recover in a matter of days or weeks), but have also seen how other companies have thrived without Google entirely.

Working from home to make money online

Selling online is getting easier and easier every day, from a technical point of view, because the technology to handle online transactions (like online

Top startups that have used crowdfunding succesfully

Crowdfunding is a relatively novel way for startups and entrepreneurs to raise money to support their fledgling companies - and sometimes it actually works.