Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a business owner that’s been around the block a few times, being successful in business is hard work, isn’t it? We’re talking about long hours, much angst and anxiety as well as sheer effort. If you feel that running a business is a constant uphill battle then you’re most definitely not alone. But does it have to be so hard? Well, the truth is being successful in business may not be as hard as you think. Here are four fundamental keys that every successful business has in place.

1.       Add real value

Nowadays, having a great service or product isn’t enough. The most successful businesses are those that meet the needs of their customers and add value too. Think for a moment about the example of Google. They provided the fastest and most accurate search results long before they came up with the concept of AdWords. And how about Facebook. They added real value to their customers by creating a massive social network. And so if you want to be super successful in business, then you must clearly have the customers’ best interests at heart and you must also add real value.

2.       Focus on improving the lives of others

In a seriously crowded marketplace it can be difficult to differentiate your offering from all the others that are available. One very important way to do so is by providing a service or product that really improves the lives of your customers. Yes, you can probably make a reasonable living selling your product or service, but without that element of really making a difference to consumers, then you’ll simply be just an also-ran.

3.       Be authentic and honest

That stereotype about the dishonest, greedy car salesman has a certain ring of truth about it and is guaranteed to see people running a mile. Consumers are not stupid. They can easily tell when someone is making claims about a product that just aren’t true. They can see through the salesperson that is exaggerating the benefits on offer with their service. What customers want is an honest and authentic relationship. So be truthful about what you have to offer. In fact, using real-life testimonials and reviews from actual customers will resonate with prospects far more than anything you have to say.

4.       Follow the 80-20 rule

And when the going gets tough – as it inevitably will – instead of becoming frustrated and negative, focus on the 80-20 rule. This says that 80 per cent of the results come from 20 per cent of your efforts. And it also means that within that 20 per cent of efforts, another 80-20 rule applies. The bottom line is that this translates into a very small amount of effort leading to very large results.

Indeed, being successful in business isn’t just about the hours you put in or being the last to leave the office every night. It’s also about focussing your efforts and hard work in the right direction. Add value to your customers and improve their lives and you’ll certainly be giving yourself the best possible start.