July 9, 2017
“I’ve been asked many times to lay out my magic formula for building a successful small or medium-sized business. I usually respond by saying there’s no magic, only hard work and experience.” – Robert Reid, CEO of Intacct, a cloud-based financial-management software provider.
Nearly every business owner in virtually every industry wishes there were such a thing as a Magic Formula. Think of it. Imagine if all we needed to do was find just one simple solution that solved all of our difficult problems quickly and easily. Just follow the step-by-step guide that is given to us and, poof, our company achieves its success!
Unfortunately, business doesn’t work like that. And just like Robert Reid points out, and other successful business people know, the Magic Formula simply does not exist.
Still, we keep looking.
We buy books, we read blogs and we analyze newspaper and magazine columns, hoping that those who have put their accomplishments on paper, will help us find that elusive Magic Formula and help us achieve that same level of success. But hope is for single teenagers at high school dances.
What we must realize, is in our search for the answers that will help us in business, these people didn’t get to where they are with a single solution. Each and every one of these overachievers got to their position in business with a whole arsenal at their disposal. And the vital business principles they’ve followed that made them who they are didn’t come overnight; they came after years of trial and error. Remember, success is a marathon, not a sprint.
If we were to ask the three richest men in the world today – Bill Gates (Microsoft, USA), Amancio Ortega (Zara, Spain) and Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway, USA) according to Forbes as of February 2016 – what their essential business principles were, most assuredly each would each give us a different answer. However, in examining those answers carefully, even though each person might have a different set of principles and priorities, we would most likely see some similarities between their responses, because when it comes to achieving success, the mindset of successful business owners remain constant.
Many of today’s successful business owners can trace their way of thinking to the 19th Century industrialist Andrew Carnegie and a journalist named Napoleon Hill. Carnegie, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1848 from Scotland at the age of 13 with very poor parents, would become the head of a steel empire and the richest man in the world by the turn of the century. In 1908 all of the strategies that made him a legendary businessman and philanthropist were documented by Hill and labeled“10 Rules of Success.” The piece would provide the foundation for much of Hill’s life work, including “Think and Grow Rich,” which was published in 1937 and has become one of the top-selling books of all time.
Here is a summarized version of the“10 Rules of Success”:
1. Define your purpose. Create a plan of action and start working toward it immediately.
2. Create a “master-mind alliance.” Contact and work with people who have what you do not have. In other words, find subject matter experts and leverage their knowledge.
3. Go the extra mile. As Hill wrote, “Doing more than you have to do is the only thing that justifies raises or promotions, and puts people under an obligation to you.”
4. Practice “applied faith.” Believe in yourself and your purpose so completely that you perform with complete confidence.
5. Have personal initiative. Do what you have to do without being told.
6. Indulge your imagination. Think outside the box. Dare to think beyond what’s already been done.
7. Exert enthusiasm. A positive attitude sets you up for success and wins the respect of others.
8. Think accurately. Carnegie believed that “accurate thinking” was having the ability to separate fact from fiction as it pertained to one’s own problems. In other words, be truthful to yourself about your situation.
9. Concentrate your effort. Stay focused. Don’t become distracted from the most important task you are currently facing.
10. Profit from adversity. Hill wrote that we should always remember that every setback has an equal benefit. As the old adage goes, every black cloud has a silver lining.
Considering whether today’s billionaires attribute their success to the business principles of strict fiscal discipline, surrounding themselves with great people and staffing their company with great managers, never giving up and striving to be the leader in their space, or respecting their customers, employees and investor’s capital, it all started with their frame of mind.
If we are to get back to the initial question at the very beginning of this column: “Is there a Magic Formula to succeed at business?” While we have been saying “No” all along, the actual answer is “Yes.” Just remember though, the Magic Formula and the most important business principle or ingredient there could ever be, is you and your frame of mind.
So if you haven’t done so already, go ahead and start mixing that Magic Formula . . . and take a big gulp of success.