In order to be a success in life, you must know thyself. In order to be a success in business, you must know thy company.

Does it all sound just a little too metaphysical and self help-y for you? Stick with me.

In order to have a successful business, you must understand your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your staff. Even the best built team will have flaws: too many introverts, too little attention to detail, too big and unwieldy. By understanding these deficits, you can position your company in a way that can minimize their impact.

You must also know your audience. Remember, everyone is not your customer. Broadcasting your message too loudly or to the wrong prospects is a sure path to failure. Make sure you genuinely understand who you can best help with your services and your price point, and who it’s probably better to send elsewhere.

Know your limits. For instance, we’re a web design firm. Where does our service level stop–at launch? A month after? Does it extend indefinitely to every problem the client has with the site, whether or not it has anything to do with our design? For you, it might be establishing a returns policy or a lemon policy. But if you don’t know where you have to draw the line, you’ll find yourself running into significant problems.

Know who you are. So many times we sit down with a client and ask them who they really are, what’s most important to them, what they want their clients to know about them, and they’re dumbfounded. Without this information, we can’t help position you properly in the marketplace. We can’t craft the right messages and put them in the right places. We can, however, help you think deeply and come up with some pretty good answers about who you are what’s important.

As we start the new year, devote some time to understanding yourself and your business. You’ll come out ahead.