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March, 2009:

Success in Business PartIII: The Idea is Service

2883973015_613bed957dRegardless of the business you are in, success is predicated on the service you are able to provide. In most businesses there are so many options available to potential clients or customers, it can be difficult to determine what will make your business stand apart. Often, businesses will succumb to the newest fads and revert to reactionary change without thinking about the most critical ingredient in a company’s success, its ability to provide valuable service.

A business relationship is a relationship. Whether it is between the company and its client, an employer and employee, a marketer and potential referral source, or any other business relationship, it is vital to make and nurture real connections. Rather than focusing on what’s trendy and new as far as business techniques, go with what is tried and true.

  • Focus on listening to the needs of your clients
  • Make sure your attitude in all facets of your business is “How can I help?”
  • Create an environment that is safe for your employees to act on their unique talents
  • Spend more time on building relationships than on creating “advantages.” With strong relationships, you already have the advantage

My company has been in business for sixteen years. I have seen many companies in my industry have to close their doors. What those who have closed share in common is their inability to keep relationships as their number one priority. There is a place for seminars on team building and leadership, we certainly have plenty, but it is far more important for people to remember that nothing replaces a sense of connection.

It is all about service.

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Success in Business Part II: Why Do You Do What You Do?

2065048572_8007046b87I didn’t start my company because of an insatiable appetite for deal making and business prowess. I didn’t possess a lot of know how and I certainly had no business experience. I started it because I was willing to take responsibility for a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program on its last financial leg. I have acquired a great deal of experience along the way and I have learned a lot from many sources.

My business is rooted in my love of helping people. I have been in the counseling field for almost twenty-two years. I am as enthusiastic about helping people now as I ever have been. The daily application of this love has evolved but the foundation is the same. My advice to anyone starting, or purchasing, a business is know why you want to do it. I haven’t felt like I’m “going to work” since I started my company. There have been trying times and difficult situations but nothing has dampened my enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter what business you get into, it matters if you love it. Regardless of the amount of money you make, and I hope you make a ton, if you are not in love with what you do, you won’t feel successful. If you’re a dealmaker make sure you love making deals. If you’re a writer, make sure you love to write, and on and on and on.

Security is important. Financial security is important. I love when Dave Ramsey says: “Money isn’t the root of evil, it’s people’s love of money that creates problems.”

To be successful in business, it is critical to know why you do what you do. I know I love to help people. The businesses I frequent most often have a passion for what they do. Think about where you spend your money. Think about how you feel when you spend your money at those places or for those services. I guarantee that you feel better when you are dealing with a company that is passionate about the service they provide. Be that company. Be that provider. If you are, you will be successful.

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Success in Business Part I: Work Together and Everyone Wins

3169262303_de9262f5d8I started my company, Stonebraker’s Inc., in 1993. At the time, I had no idea how to run a business, much less sustain it for this long. Today I am able to recognize some of the steps I have taken and communicate them in a useful way. It is imperative to share any insights, ideas, and wisdom that may be beneficial to people if we hope to build a strong and supportive community. Over the next several weeks I will dedicate a post per week to share some of what I have learned, along with some of the mistakes I have made. I will continue to write on other topics but I feel it is important to focus some attention on this particular area.

Many people are afraid. Several companies are operating from a collective consciousness of fear, negative competition, and lack. I believe that companies which place a high value on the morale of its employees, along with its relationships with other companies, will not only survive, they will thrive.

My next post will explore this topic deeper. Think about your relationship with your company, whether you are an employer or an employee. Do you feel a sense of connection? Are you able to maintain a sense of enthusiasm about what you do and those who work with you? Is your primary focus on beating the competition or creating relationships in which everyone is able to prosper (if they so choose)?

Photo Credit: galleryquantum via Flickr

We All Follow Someone

Whose lead do you follow and why? This is a very important question for anyone to answer. As you grow and change, as your life circumstances evolve, and as your priorities shift, you may let go of some mentors and gain others. Some philosophies which may have seemed like permanent maps to success have been discarded for systems which fit your changing perspectives. But do you have constants? Are there certain kinds of people who embody certain traits to which you find yourself gravitating  over and over again? Do people you seek out for guidance and direction communicate a similar theme, maybe in a different way? Are there certain topics you read about or hear about that rock your world every time?

I have thought about this a lot. The people to whom I gravitate, the topics I care about, and the causes I stand for change as I change. However, the bottom line characteristics I seek always remain the same. They include:

  • Passion I am not living to simply be safe until I die, I want to experience as much joy and happiness as I can
  • Enthusiasm Those whose lead I follow are always enthusiastic about what they do
  • Humility Confidence in one’s abilities should never be confused with arrogance. A humble person is always teachable and able to teach
  • Gratitude There are not too many original ideas floating around. Those who express gratitude for their mentors  have credibility
  • Service Not only is it an ideal to leave the world a better place than you found it, there are people who actually accomplish this goal.

I will continue to share sources and mentors who have helped me to grow and change, both directly and indirectly. I would love to hear about some of yours. There is a limitless resource of wisdom available to all of us when we are willing to share with one another. What traits are important to you? Who are some of your heroes? What books or philosophies have changed your life or rocked your world? Here are a few of mine, with more to come:

Bob Meehan who wrote Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. Bob has a tremendous amount of passion in everything he does. Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is the best resource for anyone dealing with an adolescent with drug or alcohol issues.

Jack Canfield who co-wrote the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, The Success Principles, and many other valuable books and programs. I had the pleasure of attending Jack’s Breakthrough to Success seminar last year, which was a life changing experience. Jack is someone who expresses a genuine compassion for those he is around. After meeting Jack, there is no doubt how passionate he is about helping others improve the quality of their lives.

These are two examples of people who I look up to and why. I am constantly seeking useful information. I will continue to share books, philosophies, and other materials I find beneficial. I am looking forward to hearing from you!