Running a business is no small feat. If you ask the U.S. Small Business Administration, they’ll tell you that one third of all new businesses fail in the first two years. Half of all new businesses make it four years, and only 40 percent survive for six years or more. So how do businesses survive? And more importantly, how do they thrive? A recent study by Gallup found that a business’s ability to make it over the hump has much to do with leadership. Although there are numerous factors that influence success, Gallup found that the quality of the company’s founder and management team has more to do with company longevity than any other factor. In its research over time, Gallup has found that companies that survive over the long term have executives that share the following key characteristics:
A clear vision: The leaders of successful companies are more likely to clearly articulate the corporate goals and competitive advantage(s) of their companies to their clients and employees. They create an inspiring narrative that unifies internal teams and clearly directs external growth efforts.
A plan for growth: They spend time planning for growth and aligning employee responsibilities with company goals. This requires an ability to step back from the day-to-day battles of business and articulate a quality plan for moving forward.
A close connection with customers: They are more likely to make smart decisions about pricing, products and services with their customers’ needs in mind. They don’t neglect important matters such as profit margins, but they maintain a close relationship with customers and work toward improvements that will benefit the business over the long-term. Gallup also found that business people who share these characteristics are three times more likely to build large businesses and to grow them significantly. They are four times more likely to create jobs, four times more likely to exceed profit goals and five times more likely to exceed sales goals.