A look at small business questions from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
By Arlene M. Soto CMA, CGBP, Southwestern SBDC Director

How important is “good luck” in creating a successful business?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines luck as “The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events.” Mathematicians have tried to develop formulas to define the probability of good or bad luck occurring. Philosophers have tried for centuries to define luck. Many people see luck as random and out of their personal control. I prefer to define “good luck” in business as preparation meeting opportunity and a willingness to take action.

Alex Rovira and Fernando Trias de Bes researched what luck means to business owners. “We spoke with people who thought their lives had been blessed by good fortune to try and figure out what factors they had in common. After four years of research, we could clearly identify a list of five principles for good luck. In business, we make our own good luck.” The list of principles they recognized includes: taking responsibility, learning from mistakes, perseverance, self confidence and cooperation with others. The full article describing their findings is available at

Preparation to create a successful business requires knowing what success means to you, setting goals, establishing objectives with timelines for completion, researching the industry you choose to operate in, finding the resources you need and taking action on what you learn. Individuals have different measures of success such as money, time with family, freedom, making a difference for others or a multitude of other possibilities. Research studies have shown people with specific goals are more likely to succeed because their efforts are more focused. Objectives are stepping stones toward reaching a goal. Pre-venture research will provide clues regarding business feasibility, market needs, opportunities, probability of success, potential pitfalls and where to find resources. For most, the hardest step is taking action because it requires risking failure.

Business success is somewhat dependent on “good luck” but individuals have the opportunity to have an impact on how “lucky” they are.

The SBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network, the Oregon Business Development Department and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Arlene M. Soto has been the Director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center since July 2007. To ask a question call 541-756-6445, e-mail, or write 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend, OR 97459. Additional help is available at the OSBDCN Web page

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