Guide to Success in Business

Insights from 20 years as an entrepreneur among entrepreneurs.
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We've all heard the grim statistics about how many new small businesses fail within the first year, five years, or ten years. And yet, starting a business remains the dream of millions of Americans. How can we improve our chances of starting a business that succeeds for the long term? I believe it's all a matter of sticking with the basics.

Following are what I believe to be the most important building blocks for any successful small business, all wrapped around a central foundational theme that is absolutely crucial.

Define your goals.

I know we entrepreneurs tend to have lofty ideals. We want to innovate, improve lives, and change the world.

But we also need to make money. And, to be blunt about it, making lots of money is what drives a lot of our desire to be in business.

I never met an entrepreneur yet who said “You know, I don't care if I ever make a penny off this business. I really just want to work long hours, sacrifice my sleep, give up my financial security, and die in poverty, because I only care about making people's lives better.”

There are certainly people who do just that, but we don't call them entrepreneurs or business owners. We call them missionaries, and aid workers, and so forth.

Anyone who wants to change the world by being in business also wants to make money in that business. Preferably a lot of money.

It's great if we can make money by helping people and changing the world for the better. And it goes without saying that we need to be honest and honorable in our business dealings.

Anyone who wants to change the world by being in business also wants to make money in that business.

But if we can just cut to the chase, the real reason most of get into business is to make money. If it weren't for the prospect of making money, most of us would choose another path in life.

For me, my business goal is to make a great living for my family on a part time basis with a flexible schedule.

Your goal might be to make an amazing living by working double-time and retire early. Or maybe you'd just like to make enough extra money to take a nice vacation every summer while saving for your kids' college.

Whatever your goals are, my guess is that time and money are behind them somewhere. So just define and acknowledge that part of the equation. Then, factor in how important your other goals are, or if they would be better addressed as a vocation or as hobbies than as a business.

Don't worry too much about what you like.

I know that sounds shocking, but don't tune me out yet. Believe me, I'll be the first to say it's vital to do work you at least find satisfying, if not outright enjoyable.

But I tend to agree with Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, who says that passion tends to follow success rather than the other way around.

In fact, there's a slideshow by Mr. Adams that makes the case better than I ever could. Please go read it right now and come right back here when you're done (link opens in new tab).

Do you get it?

Passion won't make you a success, but becoming successful in something just might get you passionate about it. And you get successful by following a system that naturally points to success.

So no, don't start a business doing something you know you'll absolutely hate. But if you find a good business system that doesn't sound outright unpleasant, I'd suggest at least being open to the opportunity.

Provide value.

Any business exists to persuade customers to hand over cash in exchange for something else that they perceive to be of greater value to them than the cash. If what you're offering doesn't hold any value to the customer, they won't purchase it.

In these days of hyper-competition made possible by the Internet, it's not enough to just provide good value. You've got to provide great value.

The way you do this will vary from one business to the next, and from one entrepreneur to another. However, when you're in business for yourself, you have much more flexibility as to how you'll provide value. Specific ways to do this are beyond the scope of this guide, but a good system as discussed below will cover this point thoroughly.

No matter how you provide great value to your customers, word will get around.

Follow a great system.

We've already touched on this above, and now it's time to give it its own point.

Systems are what can make or break a business. A good system is predictive of success. A bad system is predictive of failure.

You won't find a successful business without also finding good systems. Sometimes the small business owner isn't even aware of what the system actually is, but it's always there.

I once helped start a small business. We didn't really have any idea what we were doing and created a lot of bad systems without even realizing it. Eventually, we brought in a consultant who helped us create vastly better systems. We'd been somewhat profitable before that, but those new systems were the key to taking things to the next level.

It would have been much nicer to have started with the right systems.

Systems are what can make or break a business. A good system is predictive of success. A bad system is predictive of failure.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get started with good systems these days. Franchises are one way (although very expensive). Buying an existing, successful business is another way.

My personal preference is to buy into what is known as a “business opportunity” that is backed by systems that have been successful for others. These opportunities tend to be cheaper than franchises, probably have more profit potential than existing businesses for sale at equivalent price points, and allow for a great deal of freedom and flexibility.

But no matter what route you choose, you've got to start with systems that predict success.

Don't let your business take all of you.

This is really just another way of saying “Don't quit.”

If your business takes too much of you—too much of your time, brain, money, energy, etc.—then sometimes it may seem impossible to stay open. After all, we all have other obligations and relationships outside of business, too. And sometimes it may just seem to be too much.

Set yourself up for success by deliberately not setting yourself up for burnout, quitting, and failure.

That's why, as a serial entrepreneur, I've made it a personal policy to never start a business that requires all of me. I always leave enough flexibility that I can spend time with my family, relax, or, if I need to, do other work such as freelancing or even get another job if necessary (haven't had to do that one yet).

This keeps the stress off so I can make good business decisions from a position of strength. Keeping my business tamed means my relationships stay healthy, my mind stays clear, and my options stay open.

So, I always recommend setting up your new business so that you can work on it full time if you want to, but so you don't have to work on it full time if you can't.

In other words, set yourself up for success by deliberately not setting yourself up for burnout, quitting, and failure.

Don't do it alone.

Americans are all about rugged individualism, and I think that's great in a lot of ways.

But it's a lousy way to do business.

Let's face it: You don't know everything you need to know about your business. You've got a lot to learn. You've got a lot to do. And even if you don't take my advice in the above point and let your business rule your life, there's still only so much of you to go around.

That's why you need help. Not necessarily employees or partners, but at least a network of support around you.

Ideally, this will start with friends and family. It stinks trying to build a business when those closest to you aren't on board.

But it shouldn't stop there. You need mentors, coaches, and colleagues to help you along the way. Folks who can help you figure out problems, see opportunities you might have missed, and share insights you might not see on your own.

And it's rewarding to give back in all those ways, too.

So, whatever business you get into, try to make sure you surround yourself with people who will help you succeed. (And it's even better if they have a vested interest in your success; that way you know they're dedicated to helping you win!)

Summing up:

This guide is obviously a really high-level view. I didn't bother going into a ton of detail because I wanted to present the big picture. Lord willing, I'll do a deep dive into some of these principles in the future.

For now, I hope you've recognized by now that the whole theme of how to succeed in business is found under the fourth heading above: “Follow a great system.”

That's really what this whole guide is about: Helping you think through how to create a system of business that will lead virtually inevitably to success!

Some practical application:

This guide represents the philosophy of business—and life—that I've spent almost 20 years developing. Every point above was part of my thinking way before I came across New Economy Marketing Group (NEMG).

But this outline is also why NEMG's business opportunities were so attractive to me, and why I got on board so fully with what they have to offer.

Their opportunities literally check off every box for what's important to me.

Here's a quick look at how:

Define your goals:

As I said above, making money is pretty much the foundational reason anyone goes into business. NEMG is no different. Its leadership wants to make money, but the entire network is set up so they make more money as the rest of the network makes more money. That means you have a real opportunity to make a really good living in any one of their opportunities.

Don't worry too much about what you like:

NEMG has hundreds of network partners who are thrilled to be in the businesses they're in. You'd be hard pressed to find such a high level of job satisfaction in most workplaces. No child dreams of starting a furniture store or a delivery business when they grow up. But despite that, NEMG is helping entrepreneurs be so successful that they can't help but love being in a business they never dreamed of getting into. It's really pretty simple: Passion follows success, and NEMG has quite a number of truly passionate network partners.

Provide value:

White Glove 4 Less, iDeal Furniture, Kozy Home, and NEMG's other offerings are designed to provide maximum value to consumers and business owners alike. The methods vary from one division to the next, but the value is consistently there. And that spells opportunity for everyone!

Follow a great system:

This is the heart of my business philosophy, and it's the heart of NEMG's business offerings as well. When you buy a license to join the NEMG network, you're not just buying the rights to use a name and a logo. You're getting access to systems that have already been successful for others before you and will be successful for others after you, too.

I don't say this lightly: I literally can not imagine someone following the systems provided by NEMG and not making money. In my opinion, it would be virtually impossible to really work the business the way they tell you to and fail anyway. The systems they'll teach you are simple, but effective.

Don't let your business take all of you:

As an independent business owner within the NEMG network, you have control over the hours and schedule you work. In fact, most iDeal Furniture locations are operated by appointment only, and it's hard to get more flexible than that! 

Don't do it alone:

NEMG's business opportunities come with training and mentoring, not only from divisional leaders and company leadership, but from your colleagues within the network. It's a very supportive community, very open to sharing and with a great deal of experience, knowledge, and expertise. The only reason you would ever feel alone as part of the NEMG network is if you simply refuse to avail yourself of the support it offers—and why would you do that?

Next Steps:

To learn more about the business opportunities available through NEMG, please view my business opportunity listing page. And always feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need help deciding which opportunity is best for you!