By Gary Earl (Adapted from Shilpan Patel of Success Soul)
1. Win the battle in your own mind first: Surround yourself with family and friends who share a similar vision and avoid those who have a negative attitude. Before you win the fierce battle with your competitors, make sure you've won battle with your own mind to persist no matter what it takes. When I left Kansas, friends told me I was just a church organist and not a Vegas singer. After nine years, I had sung and played every room in Reno, Tahoe, and most in Vegas. When I left to go to LA to write, musician friends said "you're just a musician, you'll never make it as a writer." Now, 100 cuts later with Grammy noms and a Kennedy Center Music Award, I don't hear much from them.
2. Risk is rewarding: Business involves extensive risk including preparedness to risk all you have to survive in the beginning. Be prepared to survive by taking cash advances on your credit card when times get tough. Challenges will shape your will and power to stay on the course and to sacrifice all you have to succeed. Success comes to those in business who possess intrepid minds to face the unknown along the way. Many, if not most, millionaires have declared bankruptcy more than once along the way.
3. Have a plan… a solid plan: It's mind boggling that many businesses are being launched on a whim. While dreaming to achieve financial freedom is laudable, diving into an ocean without knowing how to swim equally abhors. Find what inspires you most without obsessing on the profit potential of the idea. Studying the competition and preparing cash flow analysis are key steps to understanding the risks involved. You're making art, but you must be making money making art.
4. Identify your Niche: If competition is fierce, you have to stand out with a unique service/product to gain a competitive advantage. A unique service becomes your trademark in the niche you serve. For example, there is a guy going through TAXI that does Latin music. He's white, not Mexican, but he knows and understands it enough to do it right and can communicate well with the Film/TV supers so he is the go-to guy for Mexican music.
5. Success in business requires investing in the success of your customers: Try to give customers superior service to exceed their needs. It comes full-circle with a superior return on your investment (ROI) as a repetitive sale requires lot less effort than earning a new sale.
6. Be decisive, go with your gut: Embarking on a business preludes the burden of being responsible to take decisions and being confident to face the outcomes later on. You have no boss to ask for a second opinion. You have to call the shots and feel comfortable with making split-second decisions sometimes on the facts available and sometimes solely on your gut feeling.
7. Possess the will of an iron: As an old saying goes, "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going." This mantra conveys a powerful message. Despite all of your plans to avoid challenges, you'll be thrown into the tug-of-war between your will power and intense difficulties at some point in your business. Try to remember what inspired you to embark on this journey to begin with. If going back to trade your time for money is not an option, remind yourself that the only option left is to succeed. Visualize the benefits that you'll receive at the onset of success rather than to dwell on the fear of failure by feeling confident that success is soon to arrive. Look at the half-full side of the glass by identifying opportunities that lie amid all of the challenges that you face.
8. Hire the best talent: Hire employees who embrace your vision for your business. Motivated employees can always go for an extra mile with their burning desire to succeed in their own career. Collectively, a mass of motivated and bright employees can create an accentuating force to take off your business success.
9. Be smart with your money: When it comes to money management, never leave it to others. You'll be a schmuck if you get so busy that you do not have time to look at the ways to increase your top line or sales and to decrease your bottom line or the expenses. Make a constant, conscious effort to focus on increasing sales and decreasing expenses with a frugal mind. This is a difficult one for musicians and writers.
10. Be transparent: Honesty and integrity are two wheels of the virtues of success. Always be candid with your customers. Have an honest and accountable conversation with your customer so that they understand your goals and efforts needed to achieve those goals. By openness, you'll find an incredible force of loyalty to work against all the odds to take your business to the peaks of success.
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