I recently listed Five Ways to Fail in Business. Well, I don’t want to be overly cynical and pessimistic (I think that most of the time I’m just the right amount of cynical and pessimistic), so to more than balance out that list with optimism and positivity, here’s Six Ways to Succeed in Business. None of these six items will guarantee success, which is a complex and multivariable equation. But they run consistently through so many success stories that they might be said to be necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for doing well in the business world. At the very least, practicing these six will guarantee that your career is the best kind.
1. Add Value in Every Transaction
Every time you interact with someone in business, give them more value than you take. Leave them feeling like they got the better end of the deal. Treat everyone this way, not just customers, and your business will have an advantage over the competition.
2. Solve Someone Else’s Problem, Not Your Own
Customers don’t buy to meet your needs. They buy out of self-interest, to meet their own needs and fill their wants. Understand the demand, and supply it, and you will give people every reason to buy from you.
3. Be Resilient and Optimistic
Business is an obstacle course, across the rolling deck of a ship, while your competition throws stuff at you, and the customer keeps moving the goalposts. Fun, huh? Change is constant. Every minute you spend whining about change and refusing to adapt, you fall further behind. Remain resilient. If you fall down, get up; if you have a bad day, make tomorrow better. And have an optimistic attitude, because it shapes how you behave and how others see you. Adaptability, confidence, and a positive disposition can take you further in business than a brilliant mind or product.
4. Fiercely Favor Freedom
Love your liberty, and don’t give any of it away unless you have to. Don’t take on debt you don’t need. Don’t commit to anything that you don’t have to or don’t want to. Don’t burden your business with unnecessary overhead costs. Don’t let bad habits make you sluggish and impotent. Preserve enough energy to react, room to maneuver, and time to think and create. Be free to change and grow, and you can.
5. Seek Wisdom
Learn to recognize what is true and what is false, what is useful and what is wasteful, what builds up and what tears down. Know what is good, and how to be and do good. Cultivate sound judgment and the ability to process better decisions faster by disregarding distractions. Being smart has value, but it isn’t always a factor in success. Successful business leaders aren’t always smart, but they’re all shrewd.
6. Success is Being Good and Doing Good
Money isn’t the only measure of success, nor its only reward. A business that loses money can’t be said to be succeeding, but the one with the biggest bottom line might not be the best or the one that you want to own. If it were, we’d all strive to be investment bankers or run international drug cartels. Be profitable, but earn that profit by being a good person with a good reputation who provides a good product that brings good value to good people. You will succeed enough to be happy, and to enjoy the love and loyalty of your family and friends. What more do you want?
Like this? See the companion article, Five Ways to Fail in Business