I was having this conversation this past Friday night with some neighbors about what it takes to be successful in business.
In the middle of the conversation, I was reminded of observing from time to time the language coaches use when they are critiquing their own sporting events. Have you ever heard those types of interviews? “We didn’t run fast enough.” “We didn’t take enough shots.” “We didn’t get enough rebounds.” The bottom line is that coaches are men of few words.
But to a large extent, it’s really true.
When it comes to business — when it comes to competition — the secret of success is that there really are no secrets.
The conversation we were having this past Friday night was about what it takes to be successful in business. The neighbor, entrepreneurially minded, a solid and intelligent observer of human nature, and an educated marketer, somehow hasn’t been able to get it together at a level anywhere near his native talent.
It is not that you necessarily need to have native talent to be successful in business; however, when I see someone as talented as he is, with such a desire to be successful, it is curious as to why business success has eluded him. His question, of course, is, “What’s the secret?”
As I thought about the conversation and was reminded of the interviews with coaches, it occurred to me that it really only boils down to several issues, none of which are secretive and very little of which offer any pearls of wisdom.
It is virtually impossible to be successful in business if you continue to be distracted for any length of time. Focus. And focus on the right thing. What is that? Revenue, obviously. He has been at this project for some five years and has developed an incredible product. The truth is, however, that he neither offers genuine focus to the project independent from his distractions, nor does he focus on the one thing he needs to have: money coming in the front door. It’s an amazing thing how many business problems go away when money is coming in the front door. It’s also an amazing thing how many business problems occur when money isn’t coming in the front door. Focus, but focus on the most important thing: bringing money in — revenue production.
Develop a rhythm
Some people call it persistence. Other people call it perseverance. And those are both good characteristics. I simply call it developing a rhythm. You have to develop a rhythm to do something day-in and day-out and to keep attacking it. When it is sporadic, or inconsistent, stop and go, and the like, it is impossible to develop a rhythm and, therefore, impossible to create any forward movement and impossible to create success.
Pay attention to details
It has often been said that entrepreneurs are big thinkers. Maybe so. But it only takes one good idea, not a brilliant idea, competently executed. Better that you have a good idea, focus on producing revenue, develop a rhythm to create it, and pay attention to the details. Attention to detail won’t make your business. But inattention to details will probably destroy it.
Stick to your knitting
I have personally made more mistakes over my business career by developing a successful business model and then messing it up by trying to do things that I had no business doing. Stick to what you know how to do. Once you have a business that is producing some level of success, stick to it.
While you never want to lose focus, it is essential that you take a look around you. What’s going on in the world? What’s going on in the industry you are in? Looking in the rear view mirror, how are you doing? What are your customers and prospects saying about the product and service you’re offering? And so forth, and so on. Be alert.
I could go on, of course, but if you’ll notice one important attribute to each of these characteristics: there is nothing terribly secretive about them. No one magic bullet is going to make you successful in business. However, if you just simply stick to the basics and execute on a day-by-day basis — consistently — the chances are a whole lot stronger that you’re going to be successful. And what I can also tell you is that these characteristics that I just described have virtually nothing to do with your own abilities, education, and skill sets. It has to do with your willingness simply to do what needs to be done