I wrote this article based on inspiration from John Patrick, a business consultant He presented on some of the truths about business success in our local networking group. As a business consultant, he was able to talk about the successes and failures of businesses based on his 33 years in consulting. These topics and points were part of John’s presentation and (with his permission, of course) I elaborated on them in this article.
I’d like to start by pointing out the greatest of truths about business success, and that’s the actual facts. The government reports that 85% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years and this, is far from true. Here are the real stats on new business success:
- 75% success after their 1st / initial year
- 45% success after their 5th year
- 29% succeed in their 10th year
This means that 55% of businesses fail in the first 5 years and although that’s over half, it’s much better than over 3/4 of them as reported. Why is this myth being reported? Lack of proper data tracking. Each time an LLC, S Corp, Ent, etc. closes, it is counted as a failure. What nobody accounts for in these stats is when an LLC is closed to open another. The same business is running but under a different business name. In John Patrick’s case, he ran the same business under 3 different LLC’s, so the first two that were closed counted towards these stats. Now that this is straightened out, let’s move along to other truths about business success.
Truths About Business Success
Your employees should feel like they have the ability to truly help address the real needs of clients while ensuring the best interest of both customer and business is met. This sounds like it is tough and will require a massive SPO manual but all you really need is business culture. When you hire the right people, they’re able to exercise the judgment to do right by you, and the customer. One of the absolute truths about business success is that when your employees know exactly how you expect them to treat your customers, they’ll do it. Your employees want to be remembered and they want recognition. They’d love to be in a position to treat everyone like family.
Teach your employees about your margins and costs and empower them to feel like part of the business is their own. Have you ever been to a Publix grocery store? Every employee gets market shares into the company every x number of hours. They are making great decisions because they have ownership in a company that treats them right and empowers them to make their customers happy. Their customers. Not yours, theirs.
Want a better example? Nordstrom. Here’s the one-page Employee Handbook. Yes, one page!
“Welcome to Nordstrom. We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use good judgement in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.”
How would your employees perform if you gave them so little, but such concise and pointed instruction, and you personally empowered them to grow your business? Empowered employees are one of the many truths about business success.
Quality execution is always important. This is likely the least surprising truths about business success. Implementing your ideas with the goals to achieve perfection, but the ability to accept it won’t be perfect is ideal. I’m not just talking about execution from an operational standpoint, but the overall execution in all of the aspects you do. Sales, marketing, operation, employee culture, etc. Try to execute each and every situation with as great of quality as possible. You don’t necessarily need the best product to execute with quality and you don’t have to spend a ton of money either. Here are two great examples of quality execution, one of the many truths about business success.
The Pet Rock – Gary Dahl came up with a barroom joke, that he’d sell a Pet Rock. He then really did it. He executed the marketing, packaging, and distribution at a very high-quality level to create a fad that generated $5,000,000 in sales in just 6 months! Keep in mind each Pet Rock cost only $3.95 each. That’s over a million Pet Rocks in half a year from its inception. That’s quality execution!
Ritz Carlton – This story is about Joshie. This is a fantastic story that is too good not to hear it in person. I’d prefer you to call me, personally, to allow me to tell you the story of Joshie in 120 seconds. Joshie was a way that one Ritz Carlton location went above and beyond, without spending a lot of money, to make a family’s experience 1 in 1,000,000,0000. The experience they gave the family’s young son will be remembered for a lifetime. I’m serious, contact me directly and I will tell you about Joshie! It’s worth it, you’ll want to do what John Patrick would say and “Find Your Joshie.”
Having a clear strategy can be very hard. Maybe one of the hardest truths about business success. Having a clear strategy is really about you have concise goals, and creating a granular strategy on how to reach them. Even if you are still figuring a lot of things out, or you’re a startup, continue to work on your strategies with each and every client. Many successful corporate companies have a clear strategy.
Alphabet (AKA Google) – Google knows exactly what they’re capable of and are geniuses about getting there. GOOG is getting into the iOS market and they’re going to be the death of the desktop search. Yes, I’m calling it here. Google knows exactly what they want to do to own the majority of the tech market and they are phenomenal at the strategy to get there. Google IPO was set by the bank at $85 and the response was “You are crazy! No one sets an IPO that high!” Well, that clear strategy helped because Google sold at $108 a share and trades right this very minute (5/16/16 18:01) for $720.19.
Coca-Cola – These guys have been doing things right from the get-go. A company that started smart and has stayed smart. Coca-Cola’s goal is “To have a Coke within arm’s reach of everyone on the planet.” I’ve been to World of Coke and have tasted nearly 50 different flavors from Coca-Cola that were formulated for the World’s markets. Coca-Cola is in over 200 countries as of this writing and is still working on distribution. Having clear goals allows for clear strategies. Implementing those strategies with quality execution are among the truths of business success.
High Energy Campaigns
There is no point in being conventional. Being memorable is far more important and much better for your business. Being high energy is being a doer and a shaker. Clever campaigns, strong messages, memorable content. Putting your content in front of more people. You don’t need to be a corporation to incorporate high energy into your campaigns. If you’re a high energy personality, that networking helps tremendously. High energy campaigns can improve many aspects of your business. Being memorable can be the difference your P&L sheet has been looking for. It certainly is of the truths of business success.
Walmart vs. Kmart – Sure, Walmart owns that market share but Kmart has made a surge and big come back with their high energy “Ship My Pants” campaign. It’s hysterical and went viral pretty quickly. The failing conglomerate leveraged YouTube for much of the campaign and it worked, it received 2.6 million hits in only a few months. This leads to a resurgence in their direct ordering online.
Southwest Airlines – When the airline was looking to hire flight attendants, they certainly didn’t advertise that. They advertised “Actors Wanted”. Google search the company name + that slogan and you’ll go straight to their application and positions page. They also introduced “Transfarancy” for their no frills, no nickel and dime mentality. They’re clever for High Energy campaigns and that’s part of their success, not just their low prices fares.
United Parcel Service – What did UPS do when they were looking to grow their numbers in the distribution centers? Take a page from Southwest’s book. “Hiring people who wanted to ring a doorbell and run as a kid.” Since you have to start at the warehouse and earn the right to be a driver, their distribution centers have plenty of employees because of their high energy campaign.
For more information on creating campaigns, visit Understanding Content Marketing
Leadership is key to any team. Sports, business, networking. Even groups of friends have clear ‘leaders’. A good leader can make everyone around them better. Look at sports. Jon Toews, Peyton Manning, Tim Duncan, Derek Jeter, Der Kaiser. These leaders bring their teams together and get them to perform better. It’s an instinct you cannot teach and it’s remarkably valuable. I believe leadership is one of the most important truths of business success. Two great examples of how leadership can resurge a company is with Apple & Steve Jobs, and Starbucks & Howard Schultz. Successful companies that began to fall, enter a true leader and they experience a significant resurgence. Leaders are needed in the world and when you identify those natural leaders in your team, hold on tightly to them. Leadership skills are non-negotiable truths of business success.
The structure of your business is a huge truth to business success. You need to be streamlined in your processes and profitable in your operations. There’s an area here in town where I love to eat and there’s a Bonefish Grill and a Carrabba’s across the street from one another. They are owned by the same company. Even though they are franchised, they’re done so from the same place, so why compete to be next door to one another? Haven’t you seen the shared kitchens before? Pizza Hut / Taco Bell? Long John Silver / A&W Burgers? Outback / Carrabba’s? Is cuts the cost of operations significantly when you share kitchen space, building, utilities, parking, etc.
Some markets are just fine for the competition because the franchise and franchisor are profiting anyway, but it’s far better to strategize in methods that cut costs and increase revenue. Shared kitchens are the best example of that. Being structured and cutting costs is the most desirable result for any business owner. If we offered truths of business success 101, the structure would be in the course for sure.
Commitment to Growth
One must be committed to growth to make goals that will actually take the company in a forward direction. Of the many truths of business success, I imagine this one is overlooked a lot. Most people want to grow their business but I’m not sure that they understand what that means. When the captain goes down with the ship, well, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You must be willing to make sacrifices at nearly all costs. Taking a cut in pay to yourself to bring in the right employees, partners, providers, consultants, etc. for the likelihood your business will grow is needed. When many business owners get complacent and lose that commitment to growth, they plateau, in most cases.
Being committed to growth might really require you to put yourself in a bit of a gamble from time-to-time. Do your research, trust your gut, plan ahead. It’s not easy to make a business run let alone grow. There are many cogs needed to run the gear smoothly. Leverage all of the things you’ve learned so far (and the thing you’re about to learn) when strategizing your commitment to growth plans. Every single person, campaign, cost, expense, etc. can matter so make them count. Don’t be afraid to take some risks when necessary, just be smart about them. Always, always know the definition of insanity.
Talented team members make a huge difference. It’s no secret that talent is one of the truths of business success. Talent can be a word that’s up to interpretation. Talent is about one’s ability to be extremely valuable for the particular needs of an employer. A company should ensure that the talent of the individual matches what is needed of them to best perform the tasks/duties. If you are looking to fill a big sales position, hiring a person with a background exclusively in marketing may not be your best salesman. If you find valuable talent that doesn’t fit a specific job you’re looking to fill, how can you leverage their talents? I could go on and one about an example here but I won’t.
When you identify any talent, make sure that talent gets in the right channel of your business. Some skills may not be considered ‘talent’, but the right skill sets need to be in place. Like in fast food or assembly lines. You need robots. Individuals that can follow directions well and perform repetitive tasks quickly are of the right skill set. Some may argue that’s ‘talent’ but regardless, don’t overlook all of the attributes that make a person best qualified for your business.