Want business success? Start with the small things

Small businesses in downtown Loveland, Colo., show success by bringing in the crowds during Friday Night on the Town the second Friday of the month. Before the event began April 12, customers waited in line mid-morning at the Coffee Tree, 210 E. Fourth St., while all of the tables were full in the popular coffee shop.

By Shelley Widhalm

Being a successful business owner isn’t just about the numbers but about the whys.

“How does a business define success? For me, there’s two ways,” said Debbi Allison, owner of Open Book Consulting in Loveland and an advanced certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor. “Number one is by the numbers, and a lot of people think of money as success. Number two, is it fulfilling you individually? Is it what you want to do?”

Applying the Numbers

Allison consults small business owners on QuickBooks Online, an accounting software package offered by Intuit, and helps them apply their numbers to make better decisions and more efficiently run their businesses. She defines her success by her client’s success, liking those ah-ha moments when they understand a concept and know how to apply it to their business.

“People should understand how to define success from the beginning to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Ultimately, success is your motivation for doing what you do,” Allison said. “It comes down to believing in your vision, your own success.”

Allison has seen a few businesses in the early stages fail to figure out their vision, mission and purpose and what it is they desire. How businesses define success is crucial to their outlasting the statistics—according to the Small Business Administration, 30 percent of businesses fail in the first two years and 50 percent in the first five.

“You have to understand why you want something to understand what makes it successful,” Allison said.

Identifying Business Goals

Allison learns about her clients’ goals, which could be to increase sales by a certain percentage from the previous year or to service more customers. Losing focus on those goals and a definition of success can result in emotional, physical or financial burnout, something Allison has seen with a few of her clients. To help, she may suggest delegating tasks to reduce hours or taking care of the distraction to be able to refocus.

“Ultimately, success is behaviorally driven,” Allison said. “The numbers are a symptom of the behaviors you put into a business.”

Allison encourages her clients to take a moment to acknowledge their milestones and small successes along the way, instead of only seeing the end goal.

“It’s important to recognize their successes, but so often they feel they haven’t because they haven’t taken a measure of their small successes,” Allison said. “We can choose to be happy and choose to be hopeful, and part of that choice is focusing on successes, not the failures.”

Shelley Widhalm is a freelance writer and editor and founder of Shell’s Ink Services, a writing and editing service based in Loveland, Colo. She has more than 15 years of experience in communications and holds a master of arts degree in English from Colorado State University. She can be reached at shellsinkservices.com or swidhalm@shellsinkservices.com.

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