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The small business success dream: How not to turn it into a nightmare

business nightmare

The dreams of prosperity and freedom a business can provide are extremely compelling for people starting their own business. We can work in areas that we enjoy, often utilising skills or interests that our current employer does not seem to value sufficiently. We get the opportunity to do our own thing, see the fruition of a long held dream or an idea that we are quietly hoping could be the next big thing.

As we move towards our bright future we are filled with hope and excitement. We are encouraged by success stories of those who started their multimillion dollar ventures at their kitchen table and now live lives of luxury and leisure. When reality hits, if we manage to survive the first year in business, we are more than likely living the life of our nightmares, rather than the dream we imagined.

Statistics show that small business owners work longer hours, often for less pay than their employees. The stress of juggling sales and production tasks, managing cash flow, the tax department, employee relationships and family relationships is enormous.

What went wrong?

Typically, the business and management skills business owners learn come mainly from watching their previous employers. This just perpetuates the problems.

How do we escape the norm of the business that never grows successfully?  How do we emulate those few successful entrepreneurs who seem to break the mould and create astonishingly successful businesses?

Studies show that there are five key principles that top entrepreneurs apply to grow a successful business. The critical difference between the successful and the normal business is that successful entrepreneurs develop their businesses into sustainable, profitable operations that work without them. That factor is critical, because until your business works without you, you still have a job. However, when your business finally does work without you, you have a value and wealth creation vehicle.

The reality is that the top five percent of business owners that achieve real business success operate according to a set of success principles that are in direct contrast to the mistakes most business owners make.

  • Success Principle Number One – Clarify Your Vision and Create Your Plan

Top entrepreneurs create their success by developing a clear vision and objectives for the business and a plan for how their achievement. Systematically working through this plan helps avoid getting stuck on short term work but neglecting the important long term development work.

  • Success Principle Number Two – Strategic Marketing

Top entrepreneurs determine their company’s strategic advantages and proactively and consistently communicate those advantages to the market through a structured marketing plan. Typically, this strategic marketing allows them to sell at higher prices than competitors because they focus on what customers really value.

  • Success Principle Number Three – Effective Systems for Communication

Top entrepreneurs develop effective systems and communication processes. These include tools to ensure that expectations about an employee’s role in the business are understood and that performance results are achieved to the satisfaction of each party. Delegation can then occur without frustration and antagonism.

  • Success Principle Number Four – Effective Accountability Processes

Top entrepreneurs develop effective accountability systems to keep track of performance. This extends from financial statements to non-financial measures that keep track of productivity and efficiency and other critical success factors. The controls are like a business cockpit, where the business owner can keep track of the business just like a pilot in a modern aircraft.

  • Success Principle Number Five – Using Mentors

Top entrepreneurs believe in continuous learning and personal development. They get assistance from people who can help them lead their business through the various growth phases. They have mentors who add value to their own expertise and who coach and guide them through the challenges they need to confront.

The key to avoiding the typical nightmare scenario most business owners find themselves in is to use these five success principles to develop a sustainable and successful business model that gives you the ability to scale up without the normal constraints and to ultimately run a business that you can sell for maximum value because it can be run by anyone and does not need you or your unique set of skills to make the business work.

About the Author:

Greg Roworth is a business growth specialist and author of ‘Run Your Business on Autopilot – How to Leverage Your Business for Maximum Profit in Minimum Time’. He currently leads a team of business growth specialists as CEO of Business Success Systems. To contact Greg please visit or email him at