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Key Success Factors For Business: What Are They & How To Use?

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By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

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Needless to say, a successful, ongoing marketing campaign is essential, no matter whether you are running an existing small business or just starting out. However, many smaller firms misunderstood marketing as something that is only done occasionally, according to the Microsoft Company website.

In reality, marketing endeavors must be constant and focused on maintaining their effectiveness and guarantee marketing to be successful. Marketing without a strategy can not only waste time and energy, but it can also marginalize your clients and hinder your company’s performance.

To adjust your marketing strategies to your key customers’ requirements and aspirations and ensure that your business continues to thrive, you may want to start considering your Key Success Factors.

Let’s find out more about Key Success Factors.

What are the Key Success Factors for business?

What are the Key Success Factors for business?. Image Source: Ferespe
What are the Key Success Factors for business?. Image Source: Ferespe

Key Success Factors (or KSFs) are business strategies that are vital if you want to establish a successful relationship with your customers. To this end, a Key Success Factor must:

  • Be central to the performance of the organization.
  • Benefit the company or team by and large.
  • Be associated with a high-level target.
  • Link explicitly to the business approach.

It is your competition and customers’ expectations and desires, not by your team, that dictate your Key Success Factors. Consumers are not simply going to tell you what those Key Success Factors are. That is why finding out your main success factors needs conducting studies on your clients to learn who they are, what they want from your company, and what encourages them to make a buying decision.

In general, an organization has three to five Key Success Factors to concentrate on to accomplish its objectives. Key Success Factors can also be of great benefit to vulnerable places that you need to resolve to build a better relationship with your clients. Below are a few examples of Key Success Factors:

  • Expand the market by establishing new targeted demographics.
  • Be customer satisfaction-focused when working with customers.
  • Achieve excellent order delivery by enhancing online operations
  • Award/Promote employees for improved employee loyalty.

Once you fully comprehend and successfully apply your Key Success Factors to your business, they will become the veritable element that defines your brand’s uniqueness and helps you stand out from the crowd.

How to find Key Success Factors of a business?

How to find Key Success Factors of a business?
How to find Key Success Factors of a business?

Depending on its industry, location, rivals, and target clients, each company may have different Key Success Factors.

For example, car buyers who expect a significant rise in annual revenues may take advantage of the typical 4th of July sale, a crucial success driver for a profitable car dealership. However, this Key Success Factor would not be ideal for service-oriented companies or other marketing items without a discount margin.

You may want to pay attention to consumer retention to better define and use your main success factors. It is because the outcomes of trade show displays and activities, how consumers react to your ads and promotions, social opinion towards your brand, and media publicity. Then, make sure all of those elements eventually convert into sales.

If your customers’ feedback is good, your media attention is increasing, and your clients are coming back for more stuffs from you, you know that your tactics yield positive results.

Stage 1: Organize a team that will collaborate on the KSFs together

It is crucial to bring together a team that can focus on your company’s Key Success Factors before doing anything else. The process should begin at the organization’s highest level, such as getting a senior manager that can lead your team.

Some organizations tend to bring in a specialist consultant to enhance the process, but you may still lead the process from within.

Stage 2: Ask workers to apply or give feedback on the proposals

It is essential that when you decide the 10-15 high-level Key Success Factors, workers across the company can offer their opinions in any way.

You could either have feedback from other divisions that play a crucial role in your business or proceed with your success factors with a smaller number of people and get internal staff feedback later. However, this step could come into play after stage three, depending on your desires.

No matter which method you choose, you need to make sure that you have taken into account ideas from around the board.

Stage 3: Utilize various structures to analyze the main elements of long-term priorities

Below are some methodologies that you may want to try. It will take some time to better grasp your priorities’ core elements in one of these frameworks.

But they are crucial in helping you identify and decide the Key Success Factors of your business, so don’t overlook these following steps:

  • OAS statement: OAS is an abbreviation for “Objective, Advantage, Scope.” This approach allows you to define your plan with complete confidence. It serves as an entryway for you to dig down and implement this strategy into the specific targets your company requires.

The first thing you need to find out is the organization’s objective. An excellent illustration of an objective statement is the one used by Boston’s Catholic Charities, whose mission is to build a just and compassionate society. The objective statement should be brief, simple, and accessible to all (even people outside the industry.)

The next thing to review is the advantage your organization confers. How do you do things differently, rapidly, more successfully, or more effectively? Your specific advantages are often referred to as the “value proposition.” The value of Catholic Charity is that it has a fully cohesive range of solutions. For instance, they will help a refugee family find shelter, prepare a job, emergency food and services, and legal assistance for immigrants.

Finally, to attain your goal, you have to decide what you will be focusing on (and what you are not focusing on). This is considered as your scope.

A scope may mean concentrating on a specific demographic group, a particular region of the country, or a certain way to represent your consumers. It is a way for your company to avoid inconsistency.

Catholic Charities’ scope is the “neediest poor”: those who are not covered by the existing social care system for whatever reason.

  • SWOT is an acronym standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats.

SWOT analysis is an analytical technique intended to improve efficiency, maximize potential, control competitiveness, and mitigate risk for employees and enterprises. SWOT is about making better choices, both important and seemingly unimportant ones. It will help you assess the feasibility of something as minor as the launch of a new product or service or something as big as a new acquisition.

Strengths: Strengths can be defined as consistency and durability for every organization. In particular, Charlie Ioannou explains strengths as the tools that experts can use to build a competitive edge.

You may want to evaluate your strengths (and weaknesses) in comparison to your rivals. What are the distinguishing characteristics of your company? Is it a well-known company with established brand loyalty, lower manufacturing costs, better customer support, greater web platform, etc.?

Here, the more genuine you are, the better.

Weakness: The lack of power is one way to think of weakness.

In determining vulnerabilities, cash flow, brand awareness, marketing budgets, delivery networks, the company’s age, etc. are all factors to consider.

The idea here is that you are trying to turn these shortcomings into strengths. However, doing so requires an accurate appraisal of where the business needs to develop.

Opportunities: Identify the possibilities for prosperity, higher profit, and more significant market share.

Again, it is of paramount importance that you measure the chance in comparison to rivalry. What ways are there for you to separate your market from your rivals? What opportunities would you find to deliver a service or product comparable to your competitors at a better standard or at a lower cost? What are your clients’ needs that are not covered by your company?

Threats: Finally, in which places is your business at risk? Is a product being produced by your opponent to compete with one of yours? Are your best staff getting hooked by a new or bigger business? Both of these are risks to the company.

Threats to the corporation now include insurance liability claims, regulations seeking to ban the operation, and larger profit margins for rival firms.

Technology is an external force which, as we can see, often poses both new opportunities and new threats. What technology advances can change the game overnight? Do you stay updated with the latest tech that can help you free up your time?

  • Strategic plan: For the first time, you do not get your business strategy right, that’s all right. Just remember that beginning the process and learning while you are on, it is vital if the six recommendations below are appropriately applied, congratulations! When building your strategic strategy, you have just dodged any big novice failures. Here they are!
  1. Identify your core mission: The cornerstone of your business strategy is your mission statement. In your organization, it tells everyone: “This is what we are focusing on.” You may want to explain briefly what your organization does, offer insight into the value you generate, and catch your company’s nature.

  2. Have a future-focused strategic vision: Your development plan will be your guide where you’d like to go, just like a GPS. The destination should be your vision declaration. Fantasize about your business strategy for three or five years ahead (or whatever you want), and write a short paragraph about where you intend to go. You may want to ask the team members each write a paragraph. Pick out the items you wish to use in your goal from those multiple paragraphs and refine it to a simple, straightforward term.

  3. Detect goals: Use your goal to reflect on your organization. You should also find out problems pressing to the company and need the whole executive team’s involvement. These are the challenges that should be the subject of the strategic strategy. You may also need to avoid being distracted by trivial things that are of no use to your long-term goal.

  4. Build a plan for connectivity or rollout: One of the most critical aspects of the strategy itself is how you can collaborate and carry out your strategic plan, but it is frequently ignored. You need to make sure that all workers understand how they integrate into the business strategy and how they contribute to their job. You can find yourself confronting a big challenge if you do not have a company where the staff does not know where to look.

  5. Make people responsible: Your company is on the same road together. That is why your strategic plan has yet to finish until you delegate every individual an obligation or obligations.

  6. Review: You need to keep daily systematic assessments and optimize appropriately to ensure efficiency. Depending on your company and your business, such ratings should be at least once a quarter and probably weekly.

Stage 4: Decide which factors are essential

You would need to consider the significant factors in implementing a long-term strategy to resolve obstacles in each of the above structures. Essentially, from your OAS statement, SWOT review, strategic strategy, and reform agenda, you can incorporate the core elements you’ve gleaned and then decide what your top Key Success Factors are.

But you cannot just put together any high-level organizational targets and hope it works out. You need to take all of your CSFs and split them out by what the Balanced Scorecard framework calls “perspectives.”

The conventional strategic approach would only analyze a financial perspective, but that system is flawed. There are a lot more substantial factors that can affect on a policy that cannot be crammed entirely into the finance group.

The ones we recommend trying are Finance, Client, Method, and People. If you are a nonprofit or political agency, you can arrange these said factors in a different order.

You open yourself up for tremendous success and improved measurability as you group each of your 10-15 high-level objectives under one of these four viewpoints.

Stage 5: Execute your company-wide strategy plan

Do not simply think that it would help you thrive by just defining the vital performance factors, organizing them under a perspective, and then leaving them on a floor to gather dust. To get your Key Success Factors incorporated into the enterprise, you need to take real action.

One of the easiest ways to do this is developing a Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a strategic strategy system that helps you attain your vital success factors more efficiently.

  • A Balanced Scorecard, also shortened as “BSC,” is a strategic management tool that incorporates four strategic perspectives: financial, customer, internal mechanism, and finally, learning and development.

BSC enables you to take the KSFs (often referred to as targets used to solve the BSC) and tell you whether you have met your targets. Initiatives encourage you to understand whether you are doing the correct steps to complete your KSFs, and the minor (but essential) tasks delegated to help the team fulfill the initiatives.

This BSCs process involves:

  • Building your statement of purpose: Your statement of purpose is the thing that will differentiate you from your competitors. Your statement of purpose says to the world what you are going to do (your objective), how you are going to succeed (your advantage), and where you are going to do it (your scope).

  • Designing the Agenda for Reform: If the statement of purpose looks outside, the reform policy looks inside.

For example, to fulfill your mission, what do you need to do better in your organization? What factors can you pull to bring about change? Your agenda for change is a straightforward visual representation of the improvements that will happen when implementing your organization’s policy.

  • Create a map: It’s very tempting to make inappropriate turns on the way to strategy execution without a plan to lead you to your target. That is why we need a precise strategy map, a one-page visual description of the strategic targets, with connections of cause and effect. That map draws an image of the plan such that it is understandable for everyone.

  • Establish great measures: It is time to think about steps until you have got your map. Measures do two things: they help you handle, understand what doesn’t yield positive results.

They allow you to inspire people to adapt to what is being measured, even though there is no reward attached to that. Pick the measures that help you push the plan.

  • Initiate several programs: Initiatives (or regular-person-speaking projects) are where the solution comes to life. In order to implement this plan, what projects do you need to launch? And, just as significant, in order to concentrate on your plan, what activities do you need to avoid? As they will fuel your progress, keep a close watch on these projects.

5 types of Key Success Factors for business

What are the Key Success Factors that will guarantee consistent performance and bear the ups and downs of life? Which KSFs will ensure lasting qualities on which you can bet your company?

There are actually hundreds of Key Success Factors you can choose depending on your company’s core values. However, there are some that are very significant and impossible to be missed out, such as those five factors we listed below, each one with around 7 to 10 subcomponents.


People (Department, Team, Learning, Progress) in your company

  • Are meticulously selected based on expertise and personal attributes?
  • Are assembled with a consistent yet flexible to change the structure?
  • Are rewarded for constantly honing their expertise and strengths?
  • Understand the fundamental business approach and what they are expected to do?
  • Are given the conditions to yield desirable performance, accomplish both individual and collective goals.?
  • Are frequently asked to give improvement ideas and satisfaction levels.?
  • Are provided with personal freedom to make decisions associated with strategic objectives?
  • Are encouraged to focus on personal expertise?
  • Are kept updated on new business plan with efficient communications?
  • Collaborate with each other to achieve high-quality customer service and high profits?
  • Are flexible to adapt when confronting unprecedented challenges?
  • Have a real understanding of changes that may affect them?

Strategic focus

Your company’s strategic focuses (Leadership, Future Planning, Organization)

  • Are based on recent consumer value reports and satisfaction-driven?
  • Require your fundamental principles to be shared and seriously taken into account?
  • Require Leaders to take real actions when demanding staff to do things and prove their loyalty to the company’s values?
  • Rely on what you do the greatest and a sustainable strategic edge?
  • Are conveyed by an exciting, concrete vision and mission?
  • Are supported by realistic development targets?
  • Require each target to be supported by a specific plan, tactics, and duties?
  • Assess Progress Towards Goals by a framework that directs everyday behavior.
  • Revise and share Future proposals internally and periodically.
  • Align all performance indicators coherently in a practical strategic management system.


Your company’s operations (Processes, Work):

  • Are aligned and adjust to offer excellent customer value?
  • Are recorded, assessed, and monitored with the entire staffs’ feedbacks?
  • Are clarified so that people appreciate their roles?
  • Encourage creative cooperation in the enterprise?
  • Are changed or modified when something terrible happens to avoid problems in the future?
  • Are continually improved with enthusiastic engagement?
  • Are assisted by efficient computer management systems and services?


Your marketing strategies (customer relationships, sales, and responsiveness):

  • Have identified target demographics in which your advantages can be maintained?
  • Have tracked consumer desires, values, and happiness constantly?
  • Have founded a sustainability advantage on your distinctive brand positioning?
  • Have established new customer bases and targeted contact on different channels?
  • Have created strategic selling and database monitoring programs to recruit new clients?
  • Have ensured loyalty, consumer desires, and opinions?
  • Keep clients updated in the language they know?
  • Have welcomed input from customers and distribute it to everyone internally?
  • Have maintained consumer excitement with a patented engagement method?
  • Have tracked the movements of rivals and industry dynamics to be proactively in the know?


Here are things that major companies have when it comes to Finances (Property, equipment, Appliances).

  • Maintaining reasonable pricing in order to guarantee consumer satisfaction.
  • Establishing sophisticated financial controls track cash flow to maintain sustainability.
  • Understanding upper management and recording key financial details.
  • Making pricing versatile and modular to allow consumers can select from.
  • Revealing the exact prices of products/services in order to generate true income.
  • Ensuring that each worker knows how his / her success affects earnings.
  • Associating performance with financial benefits, not just sustainability
  • Saving sufficient money to surviving economic crisis.
  • Having the tools and infrastructure needed to perform the job.
  • Supporting each worker with what he or she needs to do their work well.

How to use the Key Success Factors in marketing?

Your Key Success Factors impact your decisions in marketing. They result in solid sales, a strong reputation, and a positive connection with the clients when applied correctly.

You may use them to customize the message that you deliver through your ads, then observe, analyze the performance of the ads to evaluate your KSF.

Let’s say a global food company uses consumer research to find that moms who are conscious of their health between the ages of 25 and 45 are its target consumers. They then decide one Key Success Factor of its company is to have a comfortable venue for meeting such clients.

To turn these Key Success Factors into part of its advertising and business strategy, the company locates its grocery stores near fitness centers, daycare centers, shopping centers, and other places that its potential customers already regularly visit.

The business then produces ads that emphasize the ease of shopping for safe mothers with hectic lives in its shops.

Finally, based on the data from the new customer base, the company can adjust the ads to yield even better results, such as abolishing those that are obscure and hard to see, or making ads that are visible bigger, etc.

It is possible to add Key Success Factors to particular product releases or activities as well.

For example, a nail salon advertises its official launch, and one of the opening’s Key Success Factors is to attract as many customers to visit the salon that day as possible. In order to maximize customer turnout, the salon presents the first 100 individuals who arrive with a 30 percent discount and emphasizes this promotion in all its marketing.

How to track your Key Success Factors?

You are more likely to fulfill your big plan if you achieve your Key Success Factors. To this end, you ought to have the right measures (KPIs) and projects in order to reliably assess whether the KSFs are being hit.

A measure (or KPI) is an objective you monitor in order to see if your plans are working.

A measure may be “Increase by 10% of online leads captured per month.”

So, how can you establish smart KPI strategy, you may ask?

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Researcher called George D. Duran mentioned the SMART acronym for the first time in a 1981 paper titled “There’s a SMART way to write management goals and objectives”.


This term is incredibly important to bear in mind when deciding whether the KPI would be effective. You should be able to ask and answer these questions SMART questions in order to build a SMART KPI:

  • Specific: Is this KPI too wide, or is it described and identified concisely?
  • Measurable: could I quantify the measure with ease?
  • Attainable: Is it possible to achieve this measure for us? May I take the necessary steps and see improvements to introduce this KPI?
  • Realistic: Is Realistic and logical to measure?
  • Timely: Are we willing to take a weekly or monthly look at the data for this metric, or it has to be quarterly?

For example, imagining that there is net new revenue. To understand that thoroughly, it is extremely vital to examine your new total profits minus costs.

  • Specific: Make sure that the concept of new sales is clear
  • Measurable: Your net new revenue is measured with ease.
  • Achievable: You can get the numbers from your accounting system easily.
  • Realistic: Tracking is practical and rational.
  • Timely: You can get this on a monthly basis.

Every company is different, of course. For your company, these may or may not be achievable. Remember that there must be a goal associated with every KPI.

For example, you will need to set your target for precise delivery services if you want to quantify the accurate deliveries within a service window, and then use your measure to evaluate whether you have met your goal.

Once you have established your KPIs, you may want to follow these steps.

1. Determine a means to see if you succeed with your Key Success Factors.

Let’s say that twice the current size of your company is the overall plan. That means you are going to review a variety of initiatives or projects that will empower you to see how you are doing toward that target, such as:

  • Rising in the current customer base
  • Growing by Using Partners
  • Getting New customers In a particular platform or region

You will know that your strategic objective is in danger if you do not do well with these KSFs.

2. Assign for each KSF a monitor

It may be a good idea to ensure that each KSF is championed and managed by one person. This individual may be from a completely different dept or someone from the same department with the one who is given another responsibility and is prepared for more leadership visibility. The KSF acts as a steward and ensures that it moves in a progressive direction.

It could also be the monitor’s responsibility to carry out some of the communication elements described in the previous section. KSFs monitors, for instance, would be part of the rollout business plan and original planning. From there, each champion could be placed in charge of sharing updates and boosting their KSFs (if necessary, both intrinsically and extrinsically motivate other people).

3. Regularly track each KSF

Please remember that, based on your company’s strategy, the frequency of tracking Key Success Factors will vary. For instance, you may need to monitor outcomes per month if one KSF is directly linked to income. But you can only monitor this twice a year if your KSF is attached to recruitment and your organization employs infrequently.


Key Success Factor so far seems like a miracle. However, bear in mind that simply having Key Success Factors in position does not necessarily imply that your organization will change miraculously and become more effective in one night. To properly execute your strategic plan, you have to be able to talk, evaluate, and monitor them.

In the end, deciding Key Business Success Factors is not just a simple project; it’s a dramatic shift and culture change. A Key Success Factor has no life expectancy; you have to incorporate it into your organization and increase it continuously to ensure that everything runs seamlessly.

We hope that in this article, you have built a solid understanding of Key Success Factors and its implications for your business. Let us all stay safe and sound both financially and physically, especially in these unprecedented times.

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.