Top Five Secrets of Small Business Success

Do you have an accountant, attorney or board of advisors? Do you keep them within your inner circle and rely on them to help run your business?

If you don’t, then maybe you should.

I had the chance recently to view some research data from Six Disciplines Corporation about what makes the most successful small businesses. That research, which polled leaders of businesses with between 10 and 100 employees, found that the best performing small businesses have five attributes in common:

  • a strong leadership team
  • the ability to attract and retain quality people
  • a disciplined approach to their business
  • the ability to strategically use technology
  • the wise use of trusted outside providers

The best-performing businesses rated more than 100% better on these attributes, than their lower-performing cousins.

The top two attributes are not surprising. Management gurus and business executives alike probably would agree that the quality of the people in a business makes a huge difference between success and failure, or even success and mediocrity.

But it’s the fifth attribute that’s one of the most interesting. The CEOs in the top 25% performing organizations attribute their high performance to relying on trusted outside providers.  These are people such as accountants, attorneys, and board advisors.

I formerly worked for the CEO of a NYSE-listed company who often would say, “I feel naked without an in-house attorney.”

I used to think he was an anomaly. I chalked it up to the fact that he was one of the founding executives of Lexis, the legal research company, and had spent most of his career with lawyers even though he himself was not one.

But I’ve since observed that the better the executive or business owner understands the complexities facing the business, the more he or she tends to rely on advisors.

Maybe it’s because they know enough to “know what they don’t know.” So they seek out specialists they trust. This research seems to bear that out.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.