By Haddon Libby

With summer upon us and snowbirds flown to cooler climates, most local businesses face lowered sales.  Some use the summer as a time to reflect and prepare for next season while others struggle to survive.
Whether you are an employee, manager or owner and whether your business is thriving or barely surviving, Will Mitchell’s, “5 Levels of Entrepreneurship” provides insight that can be used in helping to make you and your business more successful.
To start, do you know who is in charge of your business?   It is not the manager or owner – it is the customer.
Serving your customer has to be your primary focus.  It has to be your passion to provide value to your customers.  Businesses that focus on the bottom line over the customers often underperform.  A happy customer wants to give you their money with a strong bottom line being the result of satisfied customers.
A happy customer helps your business by word of mouth.  An unhappy customer tells more people about the bad experience more than a happy one.  For success, always focus on delivering a consistent, quality experience.
The manager or owner needs to be your lead rain maker.  A rain maker is the person driving sales.  Ideally, they should have good people skills so that employees and customers alike want to be around them.  Life is too short to deal with disagreeable people for long periods of time.
Many business people fail to check their ego at the door and surround themselves with the most talented people that they can find.  Weak leaders surround themselves with ‘yes men’ who are not as valuable as those who can help a business to become all it can be.
When investing money in the business, figure out how a dollar invested creates more in cash flow.  You have to spend money to make money but dollars wasted create no value to you or your customers.  Many people focus on unnecessary systems and gadgets rather than spending their time and money on things that actually benefit the business.
Use failures as springboards to success.  So long as you learn from your failures, each failure is a step toward your ultimate success.
If you don’t know how to do a component of your business, get help.  Can’t afford it?  Guess what, you can’t afford not to.  Successful businesses have competencies at all levels and strive to minimize weaknesses.
Many business owners do everything themselves and trust no one else.  In truth, very few businesses succeed with this approach.  The most successful businesses build a sense of collaboration and trust.
If your business is struggling or failing, you may need to pivot.  Pivoting is changing your business plan or products to better fit customer wants and needs.  Many people think about making changes but are fearful to take actions.  You can’t succeed if you don’t try.
Along those lines, what differentiates your business from the competition?  Find a way to set your business apart from the others.  As others will copy your best ideas, never rest on your laurels.
How do you market your business?  Any business needs a measurable and defined marketing plan to reach potential customers.  Marketing plan results are seldom immediate and take time and commitment.
Many business people have great grandiose plans but fail in to take care of the customer in front of them.  Success means thinking big but acting small.
No matter your role in a business, success is a mix of hard work, passion and a positive attitude.  Without a passion for what you do, you and your business can never reach its maximum potential.
Organizations like the CVWBC, ShareKitchen, SCORE and CVEP are low cost options dedicated to helping you.