Gentlemen, it’s been about six weeks since I last posted on the Art of Selfhood.
Why? Because I’ve been building my business and taking it to the next level. Things have been going swimmingly for me since my return to the West, and business has skyrocketed. It’s taking all of my time just to run this ship, but I love it, and I’m glad to have these opportunities.
I thought it was time for an update, however. So in this post I’m going to teach you how to run a successful business. It’s not going to be an arrogant, self-aggrandizing post about being a boss and taking no sh*t, like the kind you might see at others online, because the realities of business are far different from that dream people sell you.
There are a few key tips to starting a business which becomes a success. It isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do it, and with enough will, you too can become your own boss.
The Keys to Success in Businss
1 – The Customer is King
If you’re like most businesses, you deal with customers. Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and whether you deal with a few exclusively or are a volume-based business, the customer is king.
A lot of businesses don’t get this. Even world class businesses miss it all the time. Take for example my recent trip to the Philippines and back. I flew Philippine Airlines and got Mrs and Jr Freedom business class seats, while I flew coach. I don’t mind – I’m a humble guy and wasn’t about to pay an extra $2,000 for a seat I would sleep in for 10 hours anyway. As long as they were comfortable, I am all good.
When I got on the plane, there were at least five empty business class seats. They knew we were traveling as a family, and my son was looking for me all the time, yet they didn’t even offer to move me up front. That’s what I call a LOST OPPORTUNITY.
Think about it – it literally would have cost Philippine Airlines zero dollars and zero cents to upgrade me, and if they had done so, they would have converted a customer for life. Since I fly out there several times per year, it would have been in their interest to do that, but they missed that opportunity to make the customer feel like a king.
That’s bad business, and yet nearly every business is operating this way. The level of customer service I encounter regularly absolutely sucks here in Europe, and it amazes me how half these firms even stay in business.
I operate my business totally differently. The customer gets royal treatment, and what they want, they get. They are paying for it, but they are getting it. As a result, my customer base has expanded rapidly and I expect it will keep doing so.
It’s a really simple thing – be humble and realize this person is paying your bills. The customer is king. That’s rule number one.
If you succeed in business, sooner or later you are going to reach what I call ‘the breaking point’. The breaking point is where the men are separated from the boys, and where the winners rise and the losers crumble. This is when your business has grown to a size it is difficult for you to manage, and the pressure is on.
You will have a daily list the length of your arm, and will work day and night, then realize you haven’t done everything you need to do. This can begin to eat away at you, but it’s important you don’t let it. You need to be able to sleep properly to wake up and fight another day, and worrying about things will not help.
You can also begin to feel overwhelmed and crushed by that daily list. This is when you have to learn the art of mindfulness, or taking one thing at a time. Make the list, but focus only on the task at hand. There’s not a damned thing you can do about the rest of the items on the list until you finish whatever it is you are doing. Take it easy, and focus. The next round is the next round, and you need to focus on scoring maximum points in this one first.
Mindfulness will help you in all areas of your life, but especially in business. Thinking about what you still need to do is anxiety-inducing, because if you are busy, it never ends.
One thing at a time. Don’t let it snow you in.
Delegate & Trust Good People
Eventually, that list we we’re talking about is going to get to a size where you realize you simply can’t complete it on your own. This is actually a great thing, because it means your business is headed towards success.
You need to hire help at this stage, and it is tempting to retreat into the mindset that nobody can do it like you can. I thought that too, but I was wrong, and I now have a solid team working with me, helping me take care of business.
Teamwork is the only way to manage a growing business. If you don’t trust others and take the leap of faith, you will actually stifle the growth of your business. You will become a bottleneck and limits will be imposed on your business. You only have so many hours in a day, and a certain skillset, whereas when you harness the power of others, you have infinite time and resources at your disposal, since you can just keep adding team members as needed, all of whom have 24 hours in a day and all of whom have their own strengths you can capitalize on.
Build a team when you reach breaking point. This doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. Just add one person, then another, and so on. Before you know it you will be running a small crew.
Reflect & Grow as a Leader
Stepping into a position of leadership comes naturally to some, while others will find it a little uncomfortable to begin. Tim Ferriss has written about this in the Four Hour Work Week, and recommends hiring a personal assistant to get used to giving orders if the thought of doing so makes you cringe.
As your business and team grow, you need to grow, too. Invest in yourself. Take leadership courses. Read books on team building and management. Learn about the practical aspects of running a business (trust me, there are 1001 things you do not even know exist until you start a business), and pour at least 10% of your purse into your head, where it will serve you for life.
Don’t have time? Make time! This is an absolutely crucial element of your business success. You can bet the CEO’s and bosses of your competitors are doing so, so you had better do the same or they will leave you in the dust.
Grow, and your business will grow with you. I am only finding this out now, and the sky is the limit. A great tool you can use to help you find out where you need to work on yourself is by keeping a daily end of day diary. Write down how the day went, what you did right and what you could have done better. Over time, as you read back on this, you will notice patterns and will figure out what you need to do to be a better version of yourself.
Harness the Power of Momentum
The biggest enemy of business success, and in fact any success, is procrastination and dread at the thought of beginning to work through a huge task list.
Momentum is your friend, and when you realize this, you can overcome procrastination forever. The idea is to trick yourself into action by taking on the smallest, easiest tasks on your list first, and using the snowball effect to take care of the rest.
The hardest part is getting started, and once you break through this initial barrier you will keep on going by the power of momentum. In business, I start by sending off a few e-mails, sending an overdue invoice, or brainstorming ideas. Like magic, every single time, I find that once I get te ball rolling it just keeps on rolling all by itself, and I steamroll through my daily task list.
I also find this to be true of physical exercise, which I think is a crucial thing for any man. If my mind is giving me the weak skinny guy ‘Just watch Netflix man, it’s been a tough week’, I say ‘OK, I will, I’ll just do four sets of bench presses today and get to the rest tomorrow’.
Again, just like magic, before I know it I am an hour in and have worked out all of my major muscle groups. That’s the power of momentum, and when you learn to use it, you will tap into unbelievable reserves of energy and drive, and will knock down targets like an unstoppable freight train.
Succeeding in business is something that will be different for each individual. Your business will be different from mine, and I can’t tell you exactly what to do to make it work.
These general business success principles, however, will help you take things to the next level. Don’t skip a single one of them. They are all vital to your overall success.
I wish you the best of luck! I’m enjoying my work like never before, and that comes with being my own boss and calling my own shots.
You deserve that type of freedom. Go get it.
Desire. Decide. Persist.