After reading more than 500 books about business and listening attentively to more than 3,000 business owners in Vertice Services Accountancy and Consultancy (www.verticeservices.com), I’d like to take a closer look at the issue of what makes some business people more successful than others. I am very passionate about this subject and enjoy a lot writing about it. A lot of people write and talk about it but I think they really shouldn’t – you should only teach people what you have learnt from your own experiences.
Now let’s take a closer look at my findings from my own practical experience.
Successful entrepreneurs are not lucky
It is very easy to say that successful individuals are lucky, and I’ve seen many business consultants repeating so. I am here to tell you that luck is not the reason why individuals are successful. Please forget this nonsense.
Luck is “a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favourably or unfavourably for an individual”. What some business consultant are saying to some of us business owners is: In order to have a successful business, you should set up one that has not purpose whatsoever, it should not have any business objectives, and it should not have an experienced managing director to manage the business. That is clearly not right, so I will explain to you what is luck. Luck is when you spend £1 on a lottery ticket and then you win
£30,000,000. In this lottery example you haven’t done anything to win the prize apart from buying the lottery ticket. You cannot predict what will be the winner numbers, therefore, to win comes down solely to luck.
Others believe that luck is being in the right place at the right time and, in my opinion, that’s the correct interpretation. Moreover, in order to be in the right place and at the right time you had to be in the right place and at right time. Although, everything happens for a reason and when it is positively clear to your brain what you want to achieve to be a successful individual, the right place and right time expose themselves. It is not entirely a coincidence, and when the right place and time come you should be ready not to lose the opportunity.
People who work too hard don’t make money
I am sure that whoever told you this doesn’t work hard. Do you really know why they say this? I would say that the first reason is they are lazy. The second reason is they don’t want you to be successful. I usually call these people “energy vampires, who laugh and clap their hands in excitement when you try to do something that you love and you fail.
I have read many books, including The 4-hour Workweek that says “If you are working more than 4 hours per week you are stupid”. I am sure that the writer himself works more than 4 hours per week. Perhaps he is a very good writer and public speaker, but he doesn’t know how to measure his time effectively. I am sure he had to spend more than 4 hours per day only to find a publisher to publish his book.
Listen carefully to this: Most of the successful clients I have worked with and I have given business consultancy to dedicate an average of more than 15 hours per day to their businesses. Some of them even work during the weekends. The number of hours you allocate to develop and grow your business is directly and positively linked to its success.
You don’t need to be a specialist in your business
You should know as much as possible about the business you run. How can you sell something if you don’t know anything about it? All successful business individuals understand the product or service they are introducing in the market place. The only way you can improve your business processes is learning in detail each process of your product or service. I understand that sometimes you can be in an investor position, but someone working in your business should be the business specialist (your partner for example). You also need to be careful because if the specialist leaves your business you will need to find another one to replace him or you will need to learn yourself. Moreover, sometimes you will not have enough time to learn yourself.
Creativity is important
You should always ask yourself why you are doing things in the way you are doing. How can I improve what I’m doing now? I am sure that if you start thinking like that, new ideas will come into your mind and creativity will start making a difference. For me, entrepreneurs are synonymous of creativity.
Previous experience is very important
When people come to me to start up a business in which they already had previous experience, the chances to succeed almost triple. Having worked in a similar business before means that you will know which resources are necessary to develop a successful business.
You will already know how to avoid some mistakes, which will increase your chances to succeed. You also know in advance if the business you choose to work with is the kind of business you would like to reallocate your time and energy. Some consultants sometimes advice clients to learn as they are running the business. Why don’t they try to publish their book before they write it? Impossible mission.
Risk taker or gambler?
Why should we call a successful individual a gambler? They are not gamblers. Gamblers are people who visit a casino and place a £1,000 bet on the roulette. Gamblers don’t have control over the environment. Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a business. A successful entrepreneur develops a business plan, acquires the human and other required resources and, opposite to a gambler, is fully responsible for its success or failure. They do business with passion and intuition. They always calculate their risk exposure. Almost all of them don’t risk everything they have. They are very good poker players because they try to avoid moving all chips in one hand.
What makes people avoid investing in business is fear. Fear of losing money they work hard to earn. The sad result in many cases is that when they reach their retirement age they are not 100% satisfied with themselves because they haven’t done certain things. What makes individuals successful is that they don’t think about risk when they start up their own business. They see an opportunity. They are responsible for the business if they succeed but they are even more responsible if they fail.
All successful business individuals have a very good business network. They understand that the best sales marketing method is to know other business people. They also know the meaning of the words referral and introduction. They want to share their business experience with other business people. But let me make something clear here: don’t make networking an excuse for having a pint with your old friends watching a football match. This is social networking. I am talking about business networking. Please make sure you understand the difference between them.
Invest in your employees
Thinking about yourself before your employees is the biggest mistake you can make when you are managing a business. Your employees are the most important asset your business has. They can be your business treasure. They are the individuals who will represent your company in front of your clients. You need to make sure you offer them the best business environment ever.
Offering training and advice to them is paramount. At Vertice Services we offer accountancy training to our employees at least once a week and we allocate time and energy to make sure that all our accountants are fully trained.
You should understand that individuals have different needs and as the managing director you should adapt yourself in order to make sure your employees will always be satisfied. As the business grows you need to make sure your employees make the most of any opportunity that may arise.
At Vertice Services, we always speak openly to our employees and if they have a different goal, we try as much as we can to help them to achieve that goal.
Another piece of advice is: experience and qualification is important but trust is even more important. The universe rewards trustful individuals. In the past, I have been disappointed when – in two different separate cases – two of my employees left my company to set up a similar business and even contacted clients they used to deal with when they worked for our company.
These two bad experiences never made me change the way I think. I can’t let the people I work with suffer because of these individuals. If you have or had the same experience, don’t worry. The only lesson you can take away from this kind of experience is to make sure you work with honest individuals. And, please, don’t stop investing in your employees because of a bad experience.
Quick to learn
Most of the successful people I know are quick learners. They love to find the right answers for questions and if they don’t find one they get disappointed. They usually try to learn a subject as quickly as they can. They read information all the time. They are always learning from others.
If you want to be a successful individual, you should understand the meaning of the work persistence.
Persistence is the firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. The point I am trying to make is you cannot give up easily because your business is having any kind of difficulty. It is your responsibility to overcome the barrier and keep trying. On the other hand you always should be smart enough to stop trying when enough is enough.
There are many external and internal forces affecting your business on a daily basis. Some of these forces, we can work with and use them to our advantage. Some of these forces are almost impossible to control and the big goal in such cases is to learn how to get around them. The most difficult one is the government, as changes in government policy could affect hugely your business. Another no control force is the natural planet force. Imagine if you have a business in a place where natural disasters strike very often. Many years ago I set up an office in Christchurch, New Zealand, and one day I called our receptionist and found out that she was killed by an earthquake. It was a very shocking moment but something which we could have never predicted.
Be careful who you listen to
Successful individuals always listen to everybody but they always make the decisions themselves. I am not saying you should not share your ideas with other people. What I am saying is: please make sure you listen carefully to other people thoughts, but follow your intuitive heart. It is your responsibility to make the decision yourself. You always should learn to separate honest and dishonest advice. Not everybody wants to see you happy.
Sometimes we need to change and try 100 different ways to do the same thing before we get the best outcome.
Learn from mistakes
If you get something right you will have 10 people to celebrate your achievement, if you get something wrong you will have 100 people to criticise your mistakes.
Successful individuals are always learning from previous mistakes. Sometimes they win, sometimes they learn. Some people believe that failure is the opposite of success. I am here to say that it is not. Many failures could result in a big success. Failure is not a state or condition of not meeting a desirable objective. Failure is temporarily. Success comes when the goals and objectives are reached even though there were many failures along the way.
Most of the successful individuals I know have experienced many failures. Some have even lost everything they had but now they are very happy. Failure is when we reach 85 years old and we wonder why we didn’t try to start up a business when we were young. Also, there are no rules about how old you should be to achieve success. Listen carefully, statistics can also help us: most of the successful business individuals start their successful journey when they reach 40 years old. Some of them start their journey when they reach 70 Years. Other ones die trying.
Size does not really matter
Size refers to the concept of things, usually physical objects. What I am trying to say to you is your dream can’t be measured, can it? Satisfaction and happiness cannot have a size. It does not matter if you are self-employed or if you manage a business with 10, 20 or 100 employees. As long as you are happy with your achievements, you have nothing else to be concerned about it. The problem here is that big companies are often portrayed as the example of what success means. I don’t really agree. I have seen people with small family businesses happier than people managing companies with 100 employees.
Please, do not compare your business with others. Perhaps your business goals are different from somebody else’s. You also need to make sure that your business has short, medium and long term objectives and what you need to do to achieve them.
Successful individuals are anticipatory, change-oriented and self initiated individuals. They always try to act before a future situation happens. They always act rather than wait to react. They want to try to take control and make things happen rather than just adjusting and waiting for something to happen. I am very proud to have proactive employees. They always work without being told what they need to do it. They require advice and orientation and never require order or detailed instruction to do something.
They have a goal and do business for a purpose
All the successful business people I know have a goal. They do whatever they can to achieve this goal. Moreover, they understand how to achieve the goal without hurting others. They always want to find the best WIN-WIN deal. They also know that in order to achieve their goals they should help other people to achieve their goals too. If they don’t do this, they will definitely be unhappy. They can try to wear a mask and tell everybody that they are happy with what they achieve but they are not. If you are involved in a business which helps other people, you are in the right direction.
Help the environment
If you want to help the environment, make sure you do it because you really care, and not to show off. Businesses can make a direct and huge impact in the environment, not only nature environment but also the social environment.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you would like to make any comments or suggestions, please send me an email at Rodolfo.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodolfo Basilio is a senior accountant working for Vertice International Accountancy and Consultancy (www.verticeservices.com)