Success is a journey, not a destination

No one starts out in business to be a failure. But most end up that way. Why? Because either they don’t understand or respect business ownership. They mostly believe the hype, not the reality of business ownership. They take for granted sayings like, “Build it and they will come”, “Only the strong survive”, “It takes money to make money”, and many more overused clichés. But what they don’t realize is the fact that you can’t go directly after money and be long-term successful. If you put money first before your customer, then you are doomed to failure.


What do we mean by that? First you as the business owner, must accept the fact that you are a complex human being, not a storybook or movie character. Whatever situation you are in or problems you need to overcome won’t be solved in 30 minutes, like a TV sitcom. Depending on where you were in life before you began your business, it may take years to build up all the knowledge and experience you need to be truly successful.

What do we mean by “truly successful”? No debt, no I.R.S. problems, good health, with enough money to be comfortable, organized and able to take a vacation every year without closing the business. So how do you get there?


Assuming you have product or service knowledge and experience, you must also build up the business ownership knowledge you need, because the mainstream is not going to give it to you. The mainstream won’t sell or make business ownership knowledge available to you in a straightforward way, because the powers that be in the world today don’t want competition. 


So you will not be taught how to become a successful entrepreneur in school, if you go to school. If you know nothing about keeping good business records, filing, typing, other office skills, hiring, sales and marketing, you can still be the best at whatever it is you do, but you won’t be able to successfully complete the “sales cycle”. If you can’t complete the sales cycle, your business can’t last. You will have a difficult time becoming truly successful as an entrepreneur.


The sales cycle means everything that must be done to get a sale, invoice it, buy any materials necessary to fulfill the sale, make the product or complete the service, satisfy the customer, collect the sale proceeds, complete the record keeping for tax time, and ask for a referral and market for a new sale. The sales cycle starts again for each new customer. It is the ability to do all these things for a large number of customers at the same time that divides successful businesses from the also-rans.


If any of these tasks is not completed your business will act like a motor that is not firing on all cylinders. The engine that is your business will cough, stutter and wheeze. Unfortunately if too many of these chores are not done correctly, or go undone, the engine that is your business can quit altogether!


So what should you do if you aren’t completing the sales cycle efficiently, or at all?  You probably already know what most people do. They simply ignore the weak points in their business and hope for the best. These people believe the old standby “The ends justify the means”. For them, if and when they become successful they will then go back and “fix” any problems they’ve been ignoring. But the fact is this doesn’t work!


Any problem you ignore in business or in life, doesn’t go away, or magically fix itself. Of course society does not teach us this. In economic terms, big business uses the word “externalities” to describe the problems they create but ignore. So it’s totally understandable that if big business ignores its externalities, then you might think you can get away with whatever problems your business has. 


But don’t be fooled. Big business pays millions in settlements, lobbying, public relations, etc, in order to hide its warts. Instead of ignoring their problems, entrepreneurs should take the time out to solve their problems. In fact that’s probably a big reason why you joined AAIME in the first place. Because AAIME is here to give you the help you need to overcome whatever problems are blocking your success. We can teach you how to complete neglected chores yourself, or you can pay us or someone else who is competent, to do them for you.


We recommend you take time out now, before the New Year, to consider your business’ strong and weak points. You probably already know what your major weaknesses are. Don’t put them off any longer. Make it your New Year’s resolution to solve problems in 2015, not ignore them.


Overcoming weakness makes good business sense for two reasons: One, you will be removing a blockage to your creativity. Any time you remove blockages, you open up space for new ideas and new business. Two, you are heading off problems before they become crises. 


Remember, problems you ignore don’t go away; they are left to fester just below the surface. It’s an unwritten rule that longstanding problems tend to blow up at the worst possible time. That’s the folk logic behind “Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”


Now is the time to remove all doubts, or challenges to your success. Focus on your sales cycle. If you are effective in all areas, ramp thing up! Grow your business. If you are having problems, AAIME is here to help. That’s why AAIME members enjoy FREE management consulting. Take advantage of it. Happy New Year!