THE BLOG
01/10/2014 11:47 am ET | Updated Mar 12, 2014

Six Small Business Keys to Success in 2014

business success

Another year is here and it's a fresh start for the millions of small business owners around the world. Just about everyone starts off the year with all good intentions of getting ahead and making this year the year they do things differently, take a different approach and really knock it out of the park.

Sadly, just a few weeks from now and most of these good intentions will be nothing more than an afterthought and won't be mentioned again until next New Year's eve. Don't let that happen. While the goal setting process for each business should be done on a case-by-case basis, there are some commonalities that all small business owners should be thinking about to make 2014 the most successful and profitable year ever.

Three Keys to a Solid Pitch
The pitch is the first impression a potential client or investor will get of you, your company, product or service. It's essential that your pitch be perfect, and to accomplish that there are three key components that every pitch must have: tease, please and cease. The "tease" is the attention getting opening statement; the "Please" is where you offer hope and explain a solution to a problem; and the "Cease" demonstrates the money-making potential and attracts the attention of a shark or wealthy investor.

Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is one of the biggest game changers for entrepreneurs and will continue to get a great amount of deserved attention in 2014. Thanks to the Jobs Act signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012, entrepreneurs are able to attract money from the "crowd," by selling small amounts of equity to many investors. Crowdfunding is opening the door to all the dreamers, inventors and small business owners who previously couldn't get financing through traditional methods. But be careful, it's important to understand the different types of crowdfunding and the various platforms available to raise capital so you choose the one that's best for your project.

Create a Magical Transformation
One of the fastest ways an entrepreneur can get ahead is by creating a magical transformation for his customers. A magical transformation is a dramatic "before and after," or really "wowing" them with the results. Think of the commercials for many carpet cleaning products that demonstrate what the rug looked like with dirt and stains, and then what it looked like after it was treated with the cleaning product. The key is to leave your potential customers feeling that they must have your product or service so they too can achieve this amazing magical transformation.

Productize
Turning your "soft" skills and talents into tangible products is one of the fastest ways to break away from the pack and increase revenues. Your product must solve a problem and be able to distinguish itself in the market. An easy place to start is by developing a continuity program such as a newsletter or discount club for frequent customers, for example. The productizing process helps you attract new customers while keeping existing ones.

Use past failures to forge future success
Winston Churchill said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." The key is understanding how to use what you learned from the failure and succeed on the next try. There will be failure in business, in fact quite a bit of them; but if you take the lessons from the failure and learn and grow from it, you're going to be more successful. Michael Jordan said it best: "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Keep building relationships
Partnerships inside and outside your industry are the cornerstone of commerce in the new economy. Getting ahead today is not only about what you know, but who you know. By building key relationships, you're one step closer to hooking your own shark, which can get you connected with a board of advisors/directors/and other sophisticated people to join your quest. Imagine having access to a master rolodex of a shark, for example. It could be life changing!

If you're focused on these six keys to success in 2014, your business is going to see tremendous growth. Imagine what it would be like by 2015 to be setting resolutions on how to manage all the growth and success. It's definitely very possible!