What do you need to create a successful business?

A photo of Ann Hawkins listening to Cambridge Leadership College students talking about how to succeed in business
Ann Hawkins listens to Cambridge Leadership College students talking about how to succeed in business

Business coach Ann Hawkins has helped hundreds of people create successful enterprises. A co-author of New Business: Next Steps and founder of Drive The Network, she works with people to achieve their goals and work smart, not hard. She was the perfect person to come into Cambridge Leadership College and kick off our Business Building Blocks sessions.

All students at the college work on a business at the same time as studying for their A Levels or the Cambridge Leadership High School Diploma. Our Business Building Blocks sessions are designed to communicate the basic information that they need to consider and understand when creating their own business.

Ann’s session was interactive and invited the students to focus on what they think are the building blocks to creating a successful business. Ann offered the idea that all businesses need to “either solve a problem or bring delight”. They need an idea, a product or service and really make it work. What are you going to do which people will love?

How to price your services

Pricing is one of the biggest challenges in a business. When you’re trying to decide on how much to charge, what factors should you consider? Ann made the point that: “If I make a garment for ten bucks, I’d sell it for fifteen. When you’re at this low level your time isn’t that valuable”.

You need to cover your costs, including the hidden ones like insurance, your website hosting and heating where you work. You should also think about the value of your time as well as the cost of materials and what the market will bear. Ann gave the example of Glace Ice as a high end business which sells their product for a premium price.

Get the right team

People are a vital part of your business. Who is going to support you? Are you reliant on others to help you run the business? Do you have enough people to help you do it? What about when times are tough? Do you have someone who can listen and motivate you?

Every business needs a leader, someone with a vision who is setting the value of the business. What does it stand for. You need to think about what your business does and doesn’t do. Not just its product but how it stands in the world and the positions it takes.

As a business owner you wear many hats. Not all of them will fit you. You may find tasks like admin and accounts take you away from what you want to do.

The cost of payroll can be huge so think about who you need or want to employ and also consider outsourcing.

Creating a successful business involves more than devising a product or service, setting up a team and deciding on your pricing. Ann gave a long list of other building blocks you need to for your business.

  • Marketing – the ability to communicate what makes you/your service special
  • Competition – if you are the only person doing this it isn’t necessarily a good thing.
  • Collaboration – how can we work with other people to be better.
  • Branding – having a strong brand that can communicate your brand is vital.
  • Funding/investment/finance – it could be a start-up loan, or investment but it can also be about how you manage the money. The business owner needs to be in control of the money and keeping an eye on cash flow. Some business owners check this daily.
  • Innovation – seeing what the trends are.
  • Sales – this is more about a person having a relationship with another person, trust is the most important thing in this process. It could be trust in the product but trust in the salesperson is vital.
  • USP and IPR and legal safeguarding are also building blocks.

The deciding factor for business success

When Ann started her session she gave us a surprising answer to what creates business success. We have a long list of things to work on but the most important thing, which Ann highlighted first of all, wasn’t pricing, or marketing or your USP. It was luck. Luck makes a business a success. But you need the other building blocks in place too!

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