back to news

Blog: What does success look like?

9 December 2019

In our blog this month, business author and editor of ‘The Small Business Growth Magazine’ Marc Ford provides his straight-talking advice for business owners that want to move their businesses forward. Warning: this blog is not for the faint-hearted.

We run our own business, we all have images of what success looks like. For some, it’s to pay the bills and have a certain lifestyle. For some its multiple venues all over the country or the world. For some, it’s to be recognised walking down the street and for some, it’s vast piles of money.

But there are certain traits that are reflected in every single successful person. They live by them and work by them. They are at the core of each of those successful businesses. So here is a quick breakdown of those traits that actually the successful entrepreneurs don’t want you to know.

Work Hard

We live in a world where everything seems instant. Food, shopping and electrical items delivered to your door within hours. There are even coaches that work in my field that suggest you should shut your eyes, meditate for twenty minutes and you’ll be rich when you wake up. No. Just no.

There is nothing in this world that replaces hard-work. Now I’m not advocating running yourself into the floor, but what I am advocating is getting up, turning up and working and I mean working until you go home. No messing about on Facebook or watching cat videos on YouTube. I mean, turning up and getting stuff done and making things happen.

Enjoy All You’ve Got

We spend way too much time wanting the next thing. The next level. The next big project. Take some time to enjoy what you have and pat yourself on the back briefly for what you have achieved. You may not be where you want to be just yet, but where you are right now is someone else’s dream,

Take Personal Responsibility – Your Business is Your Fault

Two things here. Firstly we all make mistakes. Own them. Apologise for them. Put it right. Move on. Way too much unsuccessful business time is wasted ignoring problems or hoping they’d go away. Deal with it. Learn the lesson. Don’t do it again.

And secondly, if your business is failing or struggling, I’m sorry to say this…but, it’s YOUR fault. Every decision, every idea, every action has bought you to that point. STOP blaming things like the competition, the economy or the politicians. No…it’s your fault. So own it. And do something about it.

Things Change – Be Flexible and Nimble

This follows on nicely from the last point. The recent history books are littered with failed businesses that have collapsed because they didn’t move or pivot quick enough. The shops and businesses that have been crushed by this new fangled thing called the ‘internet’ are too many to name and count. There’s a saying that says, “If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Not in business. It’s more like “If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you will get even less in return.”

People change. Tastes change. Life changes. Embrace it and look to move quickly with the changes going on in the world. Don’t sit there and wait for someone to tell you what to change…because by then it’s too late and you are playing catch-up.

Serve Others Well

This is one of the simplest success rules on the planet and I wish more businesses followed it. Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it and how you said you were going to do it.

Told you it was simple. But how many businesses have just popped into your mind that DON’T do that? EVERY single customer on your books is the MOST important person in your business. Without them you have nothing. As Austin Kleon said in his book, ‘Show Your Work’, “You want hearts, not eyes.” Serve your customers well every time and they will run through brick walls for you, no matter how rough the economy is.

Keep Learning

“You might be on the right road, but stand still long enough and you’ll get run over.” Said someone cleverer than I, but it is amazing how many people choose not to invest in themselves, their staff and their business by becoming better. Better people equals a better business. Fact.

It’s not rocket science, yet we spend hundreds, thousands maybe even hundreds of thousands on new kit and equipment. Yet we never spend that amount of money a year on making our people better do we? That makes no sense. No coincidence that successful businesses spend money on making their people better and not just on equipment and marketing.

Become Excellent at What You Do

Find something you love and you’ll never work another day in your life. Rubbish.

Find something you’re good at and strive to be the best you can be. There are way too many business people ‘playing’ at what they do. They do…’good’, really well. The successful ones do…’excellent’ consistently because they mix hard work, learning, enjoyment, personal responsibility, flexibility and responsibility to the most important person in their business, seriously…very seriously.

And that’s how icons like Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and hundreds of others got to where they got to. These are just some of the ingredients involved in the legacies they leave behind.

You see? It’s not as hard as you think!