Many people speculate as to what it takes for a business to be successful. This is hard to nail down in generalities, yet people try. People write books about the 7 steps to be a successful X or 3 ways to achieve your goals. The possibilities for these types of books or post topics are endless. Maybe that's why I continue to see more and more. While it may be hard to nail down what it takes to have a successful business in abstract ideas, it is much easier to give concrete examples. For example, Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs has created a legacy for Apple that will last decades past his death.
Thinking about what it takes to be successful is something that I have given a lot of thought lately, especially with my goal to retire in 2-3 years. I need to be successful soon if I am going to achieve this goal. Since I have already started making money with my first blog, I think I can continue this success to others. It's not easy and not entirely passive (hence, why I will still work 3 days a week), but it is a step away from the normal 9 to 5 job. Learning what it takes to be successful also comes with seeing where others fail. I recently saw a horrible business model that I would like to share with you.
You Know a Bad Business Model When You See One
I live in a down-town area of a small town. I typically will walk the streets with my wife when we want to get out of our apartment or go get a snack. The other day I was walking by this rug store and noticed something unbelievable! Before I share what it was, I should give you some background. The rug store in our town just moved locations. It was located on a side street for some time before it decided to take a prime retail spot in town. These highly focused stores have great difficulty these days. It is hard to compete with huge retailers. As a result, they have a going-out-of-business sign up for some time. Yet, I don't think you can blame their failure on the large corporations. Here's why…
It was on that day that I was walking by their store that I noticed a cat sleeping on a rug in the display window. That may not sound like something horrible to you, but for someone with cat allergies, I think differently. Cat allergies are pretty common (my wife is also allergic to cats) too. I can't even imagine wanting to buy a rug and not knowing this animal had infected many of the rugs at the store. Can you think what it would be like coughing and sneezing as a result of buying this product? I hardly doubt they would take it back when I suggest that I have been sneezing and coughing more after buying the rug.
This gives me a clear example of what not to do with my business ideas. The first clear principle that I can grab from this concrete example is image. You have to maintain a positive image to your potential customers. Once you ruin your image, it takes a lot of work to regain their trust, if it is even possible to do once it is lost. Secondly, running a business isn't just about being a good salesperson or having a great image. You have to have the quality to back up your products. This is how you get referrals and ensure that your customers will return. Retention is an important element of any good business model. You don't want to be forced to find new clients all of the time. Try to keep your customers with you and build up a client base.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.