It’s no secret that I am totally frustrated with the number of books and theories that abound on what it takes to be successful in business. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone has a cure. And, that’s ok as long as you master the basic foundational rules of success. I have been very clear over the years about how I feel on the subject. It’s street fighting basics. It’s also real-world advice. You simply cannot do anything fancy until you master the basic.

I’m often asked what then are the basics? We’ve identified about 13 ingredients to the business and personal success recipe. This list includes Priority management; Written Goals; Clarity and more. But when I’m speaking to a group, I will suggest that if they do nothing else, they must do these six things.

  1. WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN. Even if no one will ever see it other than yourself, the act of writing a proper business plan will give you insight and focus as to exactly what you want and what the obstacles will be in getting what you want. It also forces you to ask questions that normally might never have been asked.
  2. BE WILLING TO CHANGE AS YOUR CUSTOMERS and MARKET CHANGE. It’s said that 90% of all businesses started today will be out of business in two years or less. The reason is simple. The business owners were lunkheads who were stuck on basic market research and over time had no idea how their market or consumer had changed. And it shut them down. They persisted in doing things the way they had always done things. Not adapting and adjusting to their constantly changing market. Look, if you don’t constantly adapt and change, your consumer will find other options.
  3. PROTECT YOUR MONEY! Establish early a system of checks and balances that are tied to metrics. You absolutely must know what good looks like. You must know when a marketing resource is or isn’t working. It is a waste of your valuable budget if you hang on to a strategy long after it is effective. If it doesn’t work, stop it now and move on to another strategy, but never continue to do something because you believe that you need to be doing something. Protect your money!
  4. PROTECT YOUR TIME! As a businessperson or business owner it is imperative that you manage and protect your time. You should only be doing high priority tasks that if not done there would be a huge and negative consequence as a result. Your job is not to do everything, your job is to only be doing the most important thing. This is a timeless concept. German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Never allow the most important things in life to be at the mercy of the least important.” He is reported to have said this in 1780. This is not a new concept. Ask yourself this question throughout the day, “Is what I’m doing right now the highest priority thing I could be doing right now to move my goals forward?” If your answer is no, then stop. Simple. The fact is most people waste most of their day doing low priority tasks. The “winners” of the world are highly selective in anything and everything that they do.
  5. LEARN TO SELL. Here’s the truth. No matter what you think of sales, you will need to learn how to sell. Whether you’re asking a banker for financing or dealing with a customer, nothing happens in business or life until you’ve sold something be it a product or service or an idea. You must learn how to sell.
  6. WORK HARD and CREATE MASSIVE VALUE. The concept is simple. If you work very hard doing high priority/high consequence tasks, then you are creating massive value. Dedicate yourself to always creating value and you will always have as a result massive success and the rewards that follow.

These are just six of the essentials that you need to master. And, if nothing else, do these six. Of course, you can choose not to master any of these skills, and they are skills. IF this is your choice, understand that you will be easily and instantaneously replaced. Don’t blame the economy; or the politicians; or the weather. If you do not constantly improve your value, then you will be left behind wondering what happened.

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