The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success. I have used all of these tactics in my business career. I started with nothing and did not go to college, so I know you can achieve maximum success, regardless of your level of education or circumstances. E-mail me to get the first article (or any of the other articles) in the series. Each successive article takes a closer look at one of the tactics.
Recently, I spent some time talking to a bright entrepreneur. We discussed our business successes and failures and tried to think about why some ventures worked and others didn’t, as he told me more about his current endeavor.
Sometimes, we, as entrepreneurs, “breathe their own exhaust” and become overconfident about what we know. One of the best books for diagnosing business failure and correcting it is The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do about It by Michael Gerber.
What about the ingredients of business success. What did the ventures that really worked have? My friend and I concluded that business success is a three-legged stool:
Capital and Finance – Most entrepreneurs gripe about the first leg of the stool. Entrepreneurs often say they don’t have any money and can’t raise any. When I talk to bankers and VCs, they gripe about entrepreneurs asking to be funded without a record of accomplishment of executing a plan and managing a venture. Here’s the truth: If you have a good business plan and someone with the proven ability to execute and lead, you will not have any trouble finding money. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs can’t see their blind spots and are not willing to get outside help. In most cases, flying solo is a strategic mistake. When I did a private stock offering and raised $1m for my salvage yard, I learned that 100% of a company worth almost nothing is less desirable than 90% of a company worth $10 million (the valuation of the offering). Also, to build a business, you simply must be able to read and understand financial statements and cash flows. If you can’t, get someone to help and advise you so you can focus on the areas where you excel.
Strategy and Execution – You don’t know what you don’t know. After I sold to Ford and went to work for them, I became part of a powerful team of strategic thinkers who understood how to execute. Some entrepreneurs believe that a great idea is all it takes. That’s rarely true. To succeed, you need to think strategically, build a plan, and execute against it. I discuss strategy in another one of the articles in this series.
Marketing – Marketing is so crucial that it gets its own leg. Marketing is not rocket science, but you have to be militant about getting it right. Many business owners don’t even take the time to investigate who their most valuable clients and prospects are because they believe they already know. They claim that market research is too tedious, too time consuming, and too expensive to bother with. Do the analysis. Know you are right about who your most valuable customers are. Building a marketing plan without doing the research is like building a house without a blueprint. Invest a little at the beginning to save a lot of wasted effort.
Even a little informal research can give you valuable insights. When I was starting an exotic auto rental business, I ran potential names past business friends. One of my professional friends said he would never rent from a company that had exotic in the name. HA! I had not considered that!
So much valuable information is available to entrepreneurs who want to get better at marketing. Read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and Markus Buckingham’s First Break All the Rules. Be alert to the ways that companies outside your industry market and whether you can use those techniques in your business. If you are not a marketer, do not be afraid to hire a good one or seek a partner with the marketing chops to make the marketing leg of your stool strong.
Successful business owners prosper by collaborating with people who have the skills to ensure all three legs of the stool work well. Although you can hire experts, I have always preferred having partners because they have more skin in the game. When I do hire, I generally use pay for performance because employees who can write their own check work harder.
My bright entrepreneur friend and I agreed that we reached our highest levels of business success when we were open to collaborating to cover all three legs of the success stool: capital and finance; strategy and execution; and marketing.
Remember only you can make business great!
Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies. Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for- performance, and find new customers on the web. As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business. To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232, rons@MrMissionPossible.com, 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.