Saturday, January 22, 2011

Secrets of Business Success

I am having a productive morning. For some reason I find early mornings in themselves tend to yield productivity. I reflect on the charmed life I lead. Many people ask me my secrets of success and I am not sure there is any one thing that really stands out. Success is the result of a little small things done repeatedly like:

1 - Work ethic. I worked hard and long. In my younger years I often sacrificed sleep to allow me more time to work. My Time Management book even advocated that in the first 3 edition. I no longer believe this is a good idea and I try hard to sleep more.

2 - Focus. For me it was not necessarily focusing on just one thing in business but rather it was almost always focusing on some aspect of business.

3 - Systems and process. I have spent a lot of time perfecting systems (which always need fine tuning still) that support what I do. Simple things like regular exercise, getting up early, etc.

4 - Knowing priorities. This is the basis of time management. Knowing what is most important and doing it.

5 - Have good people. I have been fortunate to have a lot of great people who worked with me. Any medium sized business is much more than one person (even though the press seems to want to exalt just one person). To scale a business needs good people.

This could be the topic of a whole blog post. I am not even certain how I managed to attract so many good people. I would like to say I empowered them thus giving them the ultimate satisfaction but I struggled with that part of management.

I read Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers and Transform Your Business by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. (awesome title that is inspirational on its own). As the title suggests, it is all about why and how to empower people. Many of the earlier stories center around social media and customer service. Pointing out how short sighted companies can be to not give staff power to solve problems quickly. And pointing out that the new media (blogs, twitter, etc) give great power to the customer. So empowering customers is also important.

I like that it also talks about the complexity, cost and importance of the task and how that can help determine how much empowerment can be given.

It talks in terms of HEROs - Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operators and makes the case that businesses need HEROs now more than ever in order to thrive.

6 - Be lucky. I have had a lot of luck in life.

7 - Seek the success for the business not the trappings of success. I always wanted a business that was successful and lived a highly frugal personal life. Interestingly, this is also a time management tip since things tend to take time. It is only now that I have started to spend a bit more in some areas (although I still drive a Prius). I think frugality also really helped the business. I saw many businesses that spend beyond their means and ended up in trouble.

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