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"There are no trade secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
-- Colin Powell

In a world where society's most successful people have not only mastered their individual crafts but also understand how to translate those skills into business acumen, it's easy to focus on what they do rather than on how they do it.

Too often, success is viewed as being solely a product of innate talent and raw intelligence -- the notion that "there are some people who are just smarter than others," or "you can't teach drive." The hero-worship that has been thrust upon Thomas Edison, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey et. al stands in stark contrast to our cultural disdain for those with so-called mediocre intelligence.

But the truth is that success has little to do with what you know, and everything to do with how you apply your knowledge. Moreover, in an ever-changing world, being intelligent about learning is more valuable than being intelligent about anything else.

This is true for individuals, but it can also be applied to businesses. There are few trade secrets when it comes to business growth and development, because there's no real secret about what is required in order to succeed: you need customers.

You may have a better product or service than your competition, you may have greater marketing savvy and more funds to apply, but if you can't get your product into the hands of the people who need it and can afford it, then all of that -- every bit of your business experience or financial muscle -- is worthless if you aren't doing something to find those customers.

The first step in finding customers is identifying what needs they have. When businesses identify the need of potential new customers, they can then figure out how to meet those needs.

Developing a plan for getting your product into the hands of potential customers is as important as anything else you do. You will have to use a variety of tactics, from advertising and public relations to content marketing and email campaigns; no one strategy will work for all potential customers.

Get creative -- it's time for you to get smart about doing whatever it takes to find customers.

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