Broken Arrow Family Drug blog
The not-so-secret secret
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in the local Olive Garden having dinner. The young man waiting on us noticed that my shirt had the logo of our pharmacy. He asked whether we worked for the pharmacy, and I responded that actually we OWN it (or it owns us, one or the other).
He followed up with a question that I wish more young people would ask – “If you had one piece of advice about how to run a successful business, what would it be?”
There are actually a lot of things that go into having a successful business, and it’s impossible to boil them down into one statement. This question has nagged at me a bit, though, and I thought that I’d put some of my thoughts into words.
1. Success takes time. Building a successful business is not a short-term commitment. In this A.D.D. world, people want results, and they want them NOW. I think that’s at least part of the reason (along with poor planning and expectations) that so many businesses fail within the first year.
When you’ve been in business for 5 years, and finally have things rolling along well, someone will comment about how quickly you’ve become successful. And you will have to restrain yourself from screaming.
2. Be prepared for personal sacrifice. A lot of people who could be successful business owners DON’T go into business for themselves because they don’t want to make the personal sacrifices. Conversely, many people will go into business without realizing that they HAVE to adjust their personal lifestyle downward (at least for a time) while their business gets up and running. They’ll continue to buy stuff they don’t need, pay for services they could do without (HBO, anyone?), and go out to eat 2 times a day. Todd’s hint for potential business owners – if it’s for personal use, and you have to buy it on credit, you can’t afford it. Do without. Remember, you’re the LAST one to get a paycheck now.
3. Failure is not an option. If you go into a business (or marriage, or any other lifetime commitment for that matter) with the attitude that failure is not an option, you will do EVERYTHING in your power to make it succeed. A business owner who says, “Well, if this doesn’t work out, I can always do something else” is one who is doomed to fail.
4. Play hard. You won’t get much time away, so when you do, do something you truly enjoy.
5. Find time for little breaks. Once Andi and I have sent the kids to school, we stop by Panera Bread in the morning for breakfast. This has become a favorite time of mine, because we can just sit in each other’s company away from the house and the business for awhile. I need that decompression time, and she does as well.
6. Give back to God and the community. You should be tithing. No excuses. God gives you the intelligence, perseverance, personality and finances to own the business. The least you can do is give him 10% back. I don’t care how bad you think your personal situation is.
You should also give back to the community. They are the lifeblood of your business, and you should thank them.
7. Ask questions and learn. There is ALWAYS someone out there smarter than you. Find them and ask them questions. “How did you do this?” “How would you suggest I do this?” “What works, and what doesn’t?”
8. Be flexible. Yes, you may have to CHANGE. If you can’t be flexible in your business, it will die, I assure you. Ask any Polaroid, Intellivision, or Edsel employee.
9. Grow or die. You must always be chasing new business. If your business is not growing, it is dying. Customers move, change, and die. It’s a fact of life (and business).
10. Find a need and fill it. You won’t beat Wal-Mart at their game. A successful owner finds a different game, and plays his best at it. You can’t out-price Wal-Mart, but you can most certainly out-work them.
11. Hustle. This is one thing I have pounded into my kids’ heads – there will always be someone smarter and more talented out there in the world, but there is no excuse – NO EXCUSE – for letting someone else out-hustle you. If you out-hustle them, 9 times out of 10 you will beat them.
So what did I tell the young man? I told him that in order to run a successful business, you have to be willing to work at anything necessary at any TIME necessary. If the floors need swept, sweep them. If light bulbs need changing, change them. Glove up and clean the bathrooms. No job is beneath you. If that means coming in early or on the weekend, so be it. You know that business owner who has a fancy car sitting out in front of the business? He’s been there since before daylight, and he’ll be the last to leave. He EARNED that car. You know that big house he lives in? Ask him about the 2 bedroom apartment that he and his wife and kids lived in while they were getting started. That guy out-worked the competition, and if you out-work the competition, you’ll do just fine.