1. Plan thoroughly.
The first requirement for business success is the habit of planning. The better, more thoroughly, and more detailed you plan your activities in advance, the faster and easier it will be for you to carry out your plans and get the results you desire once you start to work.
To plan better, develop the habit of asking and answering the following questions:
- What exactly is my product or service?
- Who exactly is my customer?
- Why does my customer buy?
- What does my customer consider value?
- What is it that makes my product or service superior to that of any of my competitors?
- Why is it that my prospective customer doesn’t buy?
- Why does my prospective customer buy from my competitor?
- What value does he/she perceive in buying from my competitor?
- How can I offset that perception and get my competitor’s customers to buy from me?
- What one thing must my customer be convinced of to buy from me, rather than from someone else?
Once you’ve asked and answered these questions, the next stage of planning is for you to set specific targets for sales and profitability. You must determine the exact people, money, advertising, marketing, distribution, administration and service people and facilities you’ll require to achieve your goals. The more thoroughly you plan each stage of your business activities before you begin, the greater the probability that you will succeed when you commence operations.
2. Get organized before you get started.
Once you’ve developed a complete plan for your business, you must then develop the habit of organizing the people and resources you need before you begin. In organizing, you bring together all the resources you’ve determined you’ll require in the planning process. In the military, generally attributed to General Robert Barrow, there’s a saying: “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” It’s essential that you determine every ingredient you’ll need before you begin business operations and bring them together so they’re ready to go when you open your doors or begin your project. The failure to provide even one important ingredient in advance can lead to the failure of the entire enterprise.
3. Find the right people.
The third habit you must develop is the habit of hiring the right people to help you achieve your goals. Fully 95 percent of your success as an entrepreneur will be determined by the quality of the people you recruit to work with you or work on your team. The fact is, the best companies have the best people. The second-best companies have the second-best people. The third-best companies have the average or mediocre people, and they’re on their way out of business.
4. Delegate wisely.
The fourth habit you need to develop for business success is the habit of proper delegation. You must develop the ability to delegate the right task, to the right person, in the right way. The inability to delegate effectively can be the cause of failure or underperformance of the individual and can even bring about failure of the business.
Identify the two or three things you do that contribute the most value to your company, then delegate the rest. You must learn to think in terms of “getting things done through others” rather than trying to do them yourself. It’s the only way you can leverage and multiply your special skills and abilities.
5. Inspect what you expect.
The fifth requirement for business success is for you to develop the habit of proper supervision. You must set up a system to monitor the task and make sure it’s being done as agreed upon. The rule is, “Inspect what you expect.” Once you’ve delegated a task to the right person in the right way, it’s essential that you monitor the performance of the task and make sure it’s done on schedule and to the required level of quality. Remember, delegation is not abdication. You’re still responsible for the ultimate results of the delegated tasks. You must stay on top of it.
When you’ve delegated a task, set up a system of reporting so that you’re always clear about the status of the work. Be sure that the other person knows what is to be done, and when, and to what standard. Your job is then to make sure that she has the time and resources necessary to get the job done satisfactorily. The more important the job, the more often you should check on progress.
6. Measure what gets done.
The sixth practice of successful entrepreneurs and executives is the habit of measuring performance. You must set specific, measurable standards and scorecards for the results you require. You have to set specific timelines and deadlines to make sure you “make your numbers” on schedule. Everyone who’s expected to carry out a task must know with complete clarity the targets he’s aiming at, how successful performance will be measured and when the expected results are due.
7. Keep people informed.
The seventh habit is the habit of reporting results regularly and accurately. People around you need to know what’s going on. Your bankers need to know your financial results. Your staff needs to know the status and the situation of your company. Your key people, at all levels, need to know what results are being achieved.
In a study on workplace motivation, several thousand employees said the most important factor leading to job satisfaction was “being in the know.” People in an organization have a deep need to know and understand what’s going on around them in relation to their work. The more thoroughly and accurately you report the details and situation of your business, the happier they’ll be and the better results you’ll get.