Twenty years ago I had the good fortune to help First Nations communities develop successful small businesses. Of the 50 or so new businesses that opened over the course of a few years, 47 succeeded. The norm would have been for 17 or 18 to survive.
These new Native business owners were assisted by other experienced entrepreneurs and supported by key people in their communities. They were open-minded, willing to learn and had perseverance. But the biggest factor in their success was our training program. Although some of the training was industry-specific, taught by industry experts, most was based upon five great writers whose work is available to you today.
We started with Napoleon Hill and lectures based upon his great book Think and Grow Rich and summarized in the CD series The Science of Personal Achievement. Hill focuses on the basic principles and values for a rewarding and successful life.
We then introduced “Guerilla Marketing” training using Jay Levinson’s book of the same name laying out an understanding of Marketing and the 100 free or very inexpensive ways to effectively market. We combined this with the market segmentation ideas that William H. Davidow presents in Marketing High Technology.
To teach sales we used D. Forbes Ley’s book The Best Seller. After working together for a few years, Forbes and I became great friends. His book on sales was touted by the American Management Association as the best ever written on selling. I use his principles to this day and was flattered that he had me author one of the chapters.
Anthony Robbins’ motivational CD’s helped us reinforce the Napoleon Hill faith principle of faith, and strengthen the confidence, commitment and faith the business owners had in themselves—including the faith when they did blunder to forgive and keep at it— and their eventual success.
The lesson here is to work on yourself and on the business, or, as entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, “Work harder on yourself than on your business.”
The value of other perspective and expertise
It is also important to work across the areas of the business—acquiring and servicing clients, and ensuring efficient operations and good administrative order. Lasting growth and success requires good balance.
You don’t need to be an expert at the business you now own, but you need to stay connected to others who can provide perspective, guidance or specific experience. When you get busy, caught up in the activity of running the business, you need to have people you trust around you to get you back on track or help to make adjustments in response to a new challenge.
I relay this story of success and want you to consider that all of these businesses were under-capitalized and run by first-time entrepreneurs with no business experience and a set of values not usually associated with business success. Yet succeed they did.
As the new owner of an existing business you have many advantages over these folks—a proven product, loyal clients, a location that works, trained staff and advisers who can help. The success rate of businesses sold by Sunbelt in Ottawa exceeds 98%.
I encourage you to actively invest time to learn from past masters, those I have mentioned here or others. Choose wisely.
The substitute I recommend for coaching and industry expertise is the use of an experienced business coach with a great track record. I have personally used Grant Mellow of ActionCOACH for such services and would heartily endorse all of the folks at ActionCOACH in Ottawa.
I am sure there are many other good business coaches available in your local community. They can see the forest while you are working on the trees, they have a network of specialists who can help, and they force you to be accountable.
As business owners we answer to ourselves, yet we have responsibilities to our families, employees, clients, suppliers and others. A business coach can improve clarity and focus and force you to report your progress on agreed-upon tasks and goals on a regular basis.
Group coaching (like the upcoming sessions for business owners in Ottawa) is available if you can’t afford a personal coach.
The Inner Circle provides peer mentoring and works in very much the same way with the added benefit of helping to combine your life and business objectives into a singular vision to achieve a better business and a richer life.
Whichever help you choose, keep working on yourself and on the business.
Looking for more information on buying, building or selling a business? Check out our many resources on www.sunbeltcanada.com