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By Brian Pho

When we look at a growing business, what are the key aspects which make it successful?
  • Do we start with a very well-defined business plan?
  • Are systematic and operational methods and procedures key in growing the business?
  • Maybe it's the financial accounting, bookkeeping and administration aspects of a business which make the business successful.
I don't disagree that all of these components are key aspects of a successful business, however, if one of these is missing it cannot function.  I believe the most important factor in any business is sales and marketing.

Without sales, operations cannot run and bookkeeping and administration are irrelevant. Engineering and Project Management depend on the success of the sales team. New business leads are generated through marketing and networking activities critical to growing a successful business.

When talking to business owners, directors and entrepreneurs, I am given more sales related job orders than operations or engineering. Business owners depend on sales and revenue generation as they believe it is the lifeblood of their business.

For most start-up organizations, many owners think a well-written and well-defined business plan is the first step towards success. They think without a strong business plan, they will have a very tough time securing angel investments or angel funding. I don't disagree with this fact but I also believe that entrepreneurs spend far too much time perfecting a business plan and not enough time networking, selling their product/service or generating interest/noise in their community about the products or services they are trying to sell or promote.

Gaining new customers, obtaining referrals, networking and utilizing effective marketing strategies (i.e. guerilla marketing) are probably the key aspects business owners should spend most of their time on when developing a new business at the start-up phase.  We should be determined and focused on one thing - generating cash.

To business owners like myself, I find there are a lot of distractions in the business community. We all want our business to succeed and sometimes we spend too much time on non-revenue generating activities. Making a website look professional is important, yet it is time consuming. Websites are always evolving and changing. One will never be finished updating a website. Business owners should hire competent webmasters to handle all of that and concentrate on the more important aspects of growing their businesssuch as strategic sales related activities - i.e. planning a call sheet for the next day or trying to service / maintain existing customer relationships to generate more sales. 

In conclusion, even though business planning, bookkeeping and administration are important for business success, I honestly believe the most important aspect of any business is sales and marketing. Operations, administration, strategic planning and bookkeeping are all necessary but irrelevant without the generation of leads and new customers. So, my message to any entrepreneur or thriving business owner is to work on your sales team first and the rest of the business (operations, administration, bookkeeping) will fall nicely into place.
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