To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money, only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought. You can avoid this in your business ventures by taking your time and planning out all the necessary steps you need to reach to achieve success.
1. Get Organized
To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day. As you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and you’re completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.
2. Keep Detailed Records
All successful businesses keep detailed records. By keeping detailed records, you’ll know where the business stands financially and what potential challenges you could be facing. Just knowing this gives you time to create strategies to overcome those challenges.
3. Analyze Your Competition
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.
4. Understand the Risks and Rewards
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards.
5. Be Creative
Always be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Recognize that you don’t know everything and be open to new ideas and new approaches to your business.
6. Stay Focused
The old saying that “Rome was not built in a day” applies here. Just because you open a business doesn’t mean that you’re going to immediately start making money. It takes time to let people know who you are, so stay focused on achieving your short-term goals.
7. Prepare to Make Sacrifices
The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after you open your doors, your work has just begun. In many cases, you have to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else. In turn, you have to make sacrifices, such as spending less time with family and friends in order to be successful.
8. Provide Great Service
There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they’ll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.
9. Be Consistent
Consistency is key component to making money in business. You have to consistently keep doing the things necessary to be successful day in and day out. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you make money over the long term.
Goldman and Nalebuff share 10 must-follow rules on how to start and build an equally impressive empire (you can find these rules in the back of their book; ‘Mission In A Bottle’):
. “Build something you believe in — because that’s the first step to building a great brand.”
Just like Goldman and Nalebuff, I learned a powerful lesson in tenacious passion from 30 plus years of entrepreneurship. When you’re all alone, sitting in a dark room wondering why your business is failing, there is only one true thing to power you forward — you believe in your purpose.
2. “Don’t aim for 10% improvement. Make it radically better and different.”
Yes — in today’s society we collectively create amazing products, services, and companies through entrepreneurship. World-changing at times and Honest Tea was radically different when first introduced. But, if you look around, we also live in the land of ‘me-too’ businesses. Don’t fall for it. Dig deep and decide right now to build something radically different and radically better.
3. “Prepare to be copied. Don’t start unless you’ll survive imitation.”
If your idea is truly radical and takes off, you can count the minutes before the copy-cats arrive. How will you survive competition from the big 800-pound gorillas on the block? Or even from the upstart little guys? Your key is a system of ‘continuous innovation’. Although you could also take the road of Honest Tea — make friends with one of the gorillas and let them buy you out. (Coca-Cola Company acquired Honest Tea in 2011.)
4. “Build up reserves of money and energy for bad luck and mistakes.”
Great advice — but sometimes extremely difficult to do. What startup or growth company has reserves of cash sitting around? But Goldman and Nalebuff make a good point — run as lean as you possibly can and do not waste money or energy. You will endure mistakes and bad luck along the way, so having a good war chest full of capital and energy can help handle it.
5. “Never, ever give up control — until you sell.”
Some high-impact entrepreneurs will readily give up control in exchange for the lure of high-growth through venture capital — but I am not one of them. Relinquish control and you risk losing the culture and vision of the company you set out to build. Even though Honest Tea raised investment capital from the beginning, the co-founders always remained in the driver’s seat. (And yes — Goldman can still drive his vision as CEO of Honest Tea, but his boss at Coca-Cola can say ‘no’ at any time. Thus, true control is forever gone.)
6. “Don’t compromise on the big things — compromise on everything else.”
Vision. Purpose. Core values. Write these things in stone and never budge. But flexibility in the value propositions, products, and services you build to execute your purpose is vastly important. Many entrepreneurs I see fail to ‘bend to the market’ by adapting to what their customer’s are telling them.
7. “Figure out how to achieve your goals on a tiny budget — then cut that number in half.”
Yes — you’ve heard it said before — it will cost twice as much, and take twice as long as you think. My recommendation is you apply the principles of lean to your business from day one. No fancy offices. No fancy full-color brochures. Your goal is to stay alive until you can nail your secret formula for success. Blowing the budget will ensure nothing but a quick death.
8. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Is it ever. Building a business is neither for the faint of heart or the speed demon. Climbing Mt. Everest is not done in 3 easy steps: 1.) decide you want to do it, 2.) fly to Nepal with zero preparation, 3.) sprint straight up the mountain in 12 easy minutes. Build systems for the long-haul and focus on small-connected steps. (It takes 26,364 steps of 7″ each to climb Mt. Everest, and that’s starting from halfway up at Basecamp.)
9. “Take care of your family, personal and spiritual health — if you aren’t laughing or smiling on a regular basis, recalibrate.”
Imagine the path to a wildly successful business: founder working at a feverish pitch for 18 hours each day, for at least 5 years straight. True? No, it’s not. In my private conversation with Goldman, he flat-out told me two reasons he made it through the rough years: first — he believed in his purpose, second — his drive for personal balance. The notion we need to kill our family relationships, personal health or level of sanity to build our own business is sadly misaligned. Take it from me — don’t go there.
10. “Build the enterprise and the brand as if you’ll own them forever.”
Will you sell your business someday? Maybe. Should that be the sole reason you are building it? Probably not. When you start and build a business based on passion and purpose, with a burning desire to solve the pain of your customer through the deliverance of monetizable value, you build a far more valuable enterprise. Those in it for the short-term quick buck rarely succeed.
Plaster these 10 rules from Goldman and Nalebuff to your mirror, live by them every day of your life as an entrepreneur and you might end up as successful as they. Honest.
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