Many small business owners "hit a brick wall" or make costly mistakes simply because they aren't aware of the pitfalls lurking along their path to success.

Here then, are the top five things you MUST do to help your business avoid such traps and achieve the success you desire and deserve:

1.Know Your Business Inside and Out. The first key to your success lies in your knowledge about your business, whether it's selling insurance, writing books, teaching Yoga, or running a bakery. 

2.What is your product or service? How does it work? How will your customers benefit from using it? Why is it better than the other products/services out there?

3.Who are your customers? What is it about them that makes them want your product or service? Do they all have common characteristics that make them more likely to buy from you? This is your target market, and if you want to attract customers and expand your client base, you need to market to them, and only them. Scattering your efforts is costly and unproductive.

4.How will you sell your products to them? Will they be coming to your store? Buying from a catalog? Purchasing online? Your marketing efforts need to be directed toward reaching people in the places they go to find your product or service. Putting your business in front of them increases your visibility in the marketplace.

In order to know your business intimately, you need to study your industry, understand how it works, and apply what you know. Sometimes this means getting work experience in your chosen field, or getting a mentor, or attending workshops that tell you specifically how to do or manage something. Learn everything you can so you're not running your business by trial-and-error (unless you have unlimited time and money to do it that way).

Get A Good Accountant

Keeping track of your money is what will make or break your business. If you're not an accountant or bookkeeper, get one. Fast. You've got to know exactly where your business stands financially so you can make the wisest decisions on where and how your money should be spent. Learn to read financial statements and balance sheets, and ask lots of questions. You need to have a professional on your side who knows how to deal with tax issues and payroll, etc., because your business can go bankrupt in the blink of an eye if something major goes wrong with your finances.

To find a good accountant, ask your friends and colleagues and business association members to recommend one. Don't be afraid to interview several until you find one you're comfortable with.

Get A Good Lawyer

You don't have to hire some $450 an hour Madison Avenue law firm to represent you, but you do need to find an attorney who specializes in business and can draw up contracts and agreements to protect your business interests. Some examples of things you MUST get in writing are: partnership agreements, contracts for services, corporate documents, etc.

To find a good lawyer, do the same as you did with finding your accountant--ask around and interview several til you find one you're comfortable with, and (hopefully) can trust.

Keep Learning

Take classes, attend workshops, read trade magazines and books about your business, anything that will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. Sometimes things change overnight, and if you want to stay competitive, it's vital that you stay on top of what's happening in not only your type of business, but in the marketplace that your business serves as well.

Save For Retirement

When you're self-employed, your future is totally in your own hands. This means you've got to make financial plans to sustain you in your twilight years, as well as to build generational wealth and secure the future for your children and their children. Even if you only put a few dollars a week in savings, make sure you do it, and do it consistently. Leaving a lasting legacy means putting financial mechanisms into place now.

As an entrepreneur, your success is only limited by your imagination and motivation. The sky's the limit, so shoot for the stars!