Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

5 years ago

Japanese carp fish netsuke“You need lucky breaks to be successful” claims business guru Richard Branson. But what about plain old hard work and thinking ahead?

Our latest research shows 72% of SMEs do not believe in luck in business. The study of more than 1,000 small business owners across the UK revealed that the majority believe they are in control of their firm’s destiny.

When it comes to business, is smart thinking more important than luck?

Overall, we found that the UK’s small business landscape enjoyed a positive year, with 74% of companies reporting good business performance and more than three quarters of these (77%) making a profit.

However, just one in four (28%) small business owners believe luck has a bearing on their success. Instead, as the UK economy continues to strengthen, the need to plan effectively – both for sustainable growth and unforeseen contingencies – should be at the forefront of small business owners’ minds.

Working smart

“I believe that there is a certain amount of luck involved in achieving success, however what many fail to realise is that you can largely create your own luck by putting yourself in the right place at the right time. Hard work forms a part of this, but it’s about more than that; it’s about working smart.”

“By actively going out and meeting influential people in your industry, attending all the key events, and stepping outside of the day-to-day operating activity to work “on your business” rather than “in your business” you will create opportunities. It’s then up to you whether you reach out and grab them when they inevitably present themselves” comments Matt Gubba from BizBritain – an organisation providing support and resources for young entrepreneurs in the UK who haven’t been to university.

Opportunity is key, but you have to be ready to take advantage of it. Whilst chance may only take you so far, having a good understanding of your firms’ finances and operations you can act decisively with confidence and turn a situation into a lucky one.

“Luck plays a part in business success, but in order to be lucky you have to be there in the first place. Sure, it can have a real role to play but it isn’t everything. I was brought up to be independent and confident, and that helped me to succeed as it will many others” explains Doug Richard, founder of the School for Creative Startups.

“I’m not superstitious but I think most people know luck plays a part in success, the former BBC Dragon continues, even if they don’t talk about it. Of course, nothing is more important than planning, strategy and having a great idea, but I would say most successful businesses realise they’ve had some fortunate breaks.”

Insight and control

Whether they believe in luck or not, good customer service (80%), a solid business plan (55%) and sound knowledge of the business’ finances and suppliers (54%) were cited as the most influential contributors to success, suggesting the majority of entrepreneurs prefer to rely on insight and control over chance.

“As a teenager I used to think my day would go to plan if I wore a lucky coloured pair of knickers! It goes without saying that psychedelic yellow underwear does not always do the trick, I now know you have to make your own luck!” says Sarah Arrow from business women and female entrepreneur blogging community Birds On The Blog.

And apparently Sarah’s not the only one to lose faith in her trusty lucky charm since only 2% of small businesses have a mascot! Funnily enough, SMEs which had performed poorly cited bad luck as one of the top three contributing factors. Conversely, SMEs that performed well did not list good luck as one of the top five reasons why.

“With growth comes opportunity, but you have to be ready to take advantage of it” commented Claire Carter, Head of Sage One.

“Luck will only take you so far. But if you have a good understanding of your firms’ finances and operations you can act decisively with confidence and turn a situation into a lucky one.”