I beat the odds for success in small business

To realize small business success, you must focus on your organizational mission and goals.

In March of 1981, I began my venture into entrepreneurship with the launch of G B Associates, Inc. I started my business because I didn't want other newly promoted supervisors to experience the same struggles that I had when I became a first-time supervisor. I was promoted from within a major commercial bank without any supervisory training. I saw how devastating the lack of training can be for a supervisor, the employees and the organization; I saw the importance of training for both new and experienced supervisors.

In the 34 years since then, my business and I have undergone numerous transformations. I have grown as a professional as my business has grown and as I stand on the brink of retirement, I am indebted to my many clients and the hundreds of workshop participants with whom I have shared their professional journey.

According to statistics from the Small Business Administration cited by the Washington Post in 2014, slightly more than half of new businesses are no longer operating after four years. Even with the recent economic recovery, these statistics have changed little. Only about one-third of businesses survive past the ten-year mark, and survival rates continue to fall with age. 

I am often asked how I have sustained my company as a solopreneur over the past three decades. One of the major reasons I have outdistanced the odds is my heartfelt belief that people want to be successful. To succeed, they need practical skills that they can apply on the job immediately. I have always shied away from teaching theoretical concepts that lack transferability. I have (almost) always felt confident in my ability to deliver skills training in an accessible way. Stellar course evaluations and positive participant feedback have kept me striving forward. If you are one of those who has attended my workshops and benefited from my training, I thank you. You are the reason I have continued doing this work that I so love.

Remaining true to my principles, even in the face of a declining economy, a proposal rejection or the loss of a valued client has contributed to my success. Every business struggles at some point. Whether it be a poor quarterly earnings report or the loss of a valued client, it is crucial to overcome any nagging feelings of doubt. When managers and supervisors lose sight of their overarching mission, their team members will soon follow. As a female soloprenenuer, I have clung to my principles and mission.

Preparation is another key to my success. I have never once walked into a training room without ensuring I understand the needs of my audience and the organization before beginning my workshops.

I have always asked of my clients, "What do you want your employees to do differently after the training?" and "How will you measure the success of the training?" before I begin to customize the workshop. When clients weren't sure, I devoted time and energy to help them identify their key success indicators. Then, I have customized my workshops and my presentation to the unique needs of my client organization and my participants.

Beating the odds for success in the small business world is no easy feat, but can be accomplished with the correct approach and appropriate drive. When you believe in your mission as deeply as a I believe in the importance of enhancing others' success, and you devote your energies to realizing that purpose, then success will be yours no matter what the economy looks like.