In the Rodgers & Hammerstein movie and play ‘South Pacific’ there is a song called “Happy Talk”The words to that song go something like this (feel free to sing along if you know the tune):
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Surveys of successful people have shown that the love of the work has been more important than the money. Interestingly, that usually equates into success in the work of love, which is then followed by financial success. It is also true that many people buy or start a business that they did not have any passion for in the beginning, but they learn to love the work and they stay with it and become successful. If you are going to devote 50-plus hours a week to a business (and probably a lot more in the early stages of a new business) it is essential that it fulfill a dream you have.
Business Start-up Advice
This gives us our first rule for starting a successful business:
Rule #1 —Stay close to the heart. Make a plan. In order to start anything new you must start out with a plan. We all have heard stories of great ideas that died because someone did not go past the idea stage. The plan should include simple answers to the following questions:
- What is it I want to produce or sell?
- What is the list of steps that I need to take to produce my product?
- What are all the marketing and administrative steps that I have to take?
- And lastly, what resources do I need to execute this plan, including education and finances?
The answers to these questions become targets for you to accomplish as you move through the plan. Your succession of targets is the road map that takes you where you want to go. So our second rule for starting a successful new business is:
Rule #2 — A good plan is the roadmap that guides you to your destination. Carry out the plan.
In his famous poem “To A Mouse” the poet Robert Burns observed that no matter how well we might plan our actions, our plans “gang aft a-gley” — Scottish dialect for “go often astray.” Perhaps the major reason plans fail is because they simply never get done. One way to help move you rapidly through your list of targets is for you to put a completion date on each target step. This prevents procrastination (putting things off until tomorrow that you should do today) and keeps you moving steadily towards your final destination.
This brings us to the third rule for starting a successful business:
Rule #3 — Once you have a plan and all its details worked out, carry it out — one step at a time. Get educated and “work smart” On the above list of necessary questions was the question about resources. In a capitalist society like the one we live in, the two main resources are Capital (money) and Labor (work, toil, effort). This concept basically says you need to expend some of each of these to get a business going and keep it going. It also implies that if you have more of one than the other, you can use less of the other. For example, I need a piece of office furniture; if I can spend my hard earned money and buy one, if I have extra cash. I might be worth it to save the time. If I have a tight cash flow and I have a strong back, maybe I should build one and save money. I can get my tools out, buy some lumber (a lot less cash than a new desk) and make one with my labor. Which will it be, buy a desk or build one? The answer is contained in a third “resource” that is usually not mentioned, but is every bit as important, and probably more so, than capital and labor.
This third resource is knowledge. To decide whether to “use your brain or your brawn” you need to understand what you are trying to achieve and how it can best be achieved. To understand something you need to know all there is to know about it. This is how you can make what are called informed decisions. Your knowledge instantly tells you what the best decision will be. The answer is get fully educated on the following subjects:
- How to run a business.
- How to control finances.
- How to market your product.
- How to keep your earnings and not pay it all out in taxes.
My advice is to invest your hard-earned capital not on desks and chairs but on the vital third resource: Knowledge. So here we have the fourth rule for starting a successful business:
Rule #4 — Get educated and work smart! They can’t take your knowledge away from you. Revise, correct and streamline. Now that you have gotten some business and management training under your belt, you can revise, correct and streamline your business plan. This of course does not assure you that it will get done, no matter how beautiful it is. You need to actually do the steps of this plan. I suggest you do some of your targets every day, while at the same time delivering your service or making your product.
You will find that each week the work gets easier, production increases and the business becomes more organized. Today’s organization of the business is tomorrow’s expansion. Expansion cannot occur without organizing to make production smoother. If you do not spend time organizing, you will become like all those harried, stressed-out people who just work harder and harder each day trying to catch up on yesterday’s work. Most people are so busy working that they haven’t got time to get rich. This brings us to rule number five for starting a successful business:
Rule #5 — Streamline operations while continuing to sell, produce and deliver. Conclusion: Find a path you would like to go down. Make a step-by-step plan on how you are going to get this plan done. Put completion dates on each item in the plan. Get a business education and then decide the best use of your available capital and labor. Constantly work to streamline the business to run more smoothly while at the same time keeping your daily production and sales increasing. The constant balancing of producing a product and making the company run smoother so it can increase production now and in the future is your most important job as the owner-manager of a business that is going to reward you with abundant income.
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