Only about one of every 10 businesses started will reach a 10th anniversary and most failures happen within the first few years. Lots can go wrong: an ill-conceived business idea, poor planning or execution, bad business model, lack of capital, ineffective leadership and poor location, among others.
But business owners who succeed know how to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that trip up other entrepreneurs. They get the foundations right. Bill McBean is one such business owner. He grew a highly successful series of car dealerships in Texas and went on to write about his success in “The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owners Knows that You Don’t.”
Here are McBean’s seven “tried and true” foundations for building business success:
• If you don’t lead, no one will follow. Good business leadership begins with defining the goals and direction of your company, and deciding how the business should look and operate. It also requires that you develop and constantly improve the skill sets you need to move your business forward.
• If you don’t control it, you don’t own it. If you don’t control your business by defining key tasks and dictating how they must be handled, you don’t truly “own” the business. You’re more like a spectator watching others play with your money.
• Protecting your business assets should be your first priority. Surprisingly to some, sales, profits and growth don’t come first. Assets – which include tangible and intangible assets – are what power sales, profits and growth, so they come first.
• Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it. Effective planning is a mix of science (gather key information, for example) and art – taking that information and turning it into a plan that will move your business forward.
• If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one. Without marketing, little good can happen. Look at it as an investment, rather than an expense that less successful competitors think it is.
• The marketplace is a minefield. You need to be constantly on your game and follow up your marketing efforts by capturing and retaining each customer your efforts attract.
• You don’t have to know the business you are in – but you have to know business. You have to know what’s going on in your market, but it’s just as important to know how to translate that information into more sales and net profits. •