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The facts of (business) life

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If you’re a business owner—or aspire to become one—there are certain facts you must master if you hope to succeed. While there are many aspects to creating a successful business, there are certain things you can do to “tilt the odds in your favor” according to successful business owner Bill McBean, author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t.

Here’s an overview of McBean’s seven facts of business life:

  1. If you don’t lead, no one will follow. According to McBean, being a good leader involves setting the direction of your company and deciding how it should operate. “Without effective leadership your managers or employees have no idea what is important to the owner, what to manage, or what success and failure look like,” explains McBean. Good leaders set forth clear expectations and develop a system that rewards employees who meet or exceed those expectations.
  2. If you don’t control it, you don’t own it. Control is crucial to good leadership. “If you don’t [take control], you’ll be ‘leading’ a group of individuals who follow their own rules and judgment, rather than a cohesive company working toward a common goal.” Clear procedures and processes are necessary for your company to function effectively.
  3. Protecting your company’s assets should be your first priority. Insuring your company’s assets, such as buildings and equipment, is a must. But successful owners don’t stop at insuring the basics. “I believe protecting both tangible and intangible assets to be one of the most underrated and underappreciated ownership issues today,” says McBean. Neglecting to insure all your company’s assets can come back to haunt you.
  4. Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it. No, you don’t own a crystal ball that can show you the future of your business. What you do have, however, is the most current data on your business as well as your own experience, which you can call on to chart the path ahead. “Being able to plan better than your competitors can give you a significant competitive edge in the market,” asserts McBean.
  5. If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one. Marketing and advertising may seem like a foreign language, not the reason you chose your particular industry. The truth is if no one knows about your product, you will not succeed. According to McBean, “You have to make the necessary effort to connect consumers to your company. And when you do, you’ll begin to see marketing as the investment it actually is, rather than the expense that less successful competitors think it is.”
  6. The marketplace is a war zone. If you are successful, you will attract competitors. You must fight to win market share but also to retain it. According to McBean, a warrior mentality is essential to success. “In order to be successful and remain that way, you have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you believe should be yours. If you don’t, your competition will win the war.”
  7. Knowing only your industry isn’t enough. Knowing everything about your industry is important, of course, but you must also master the principles of business in general. Accounting, finance, business law and personnel issues, for example, each have a profound effect on your business, for better or worse. Having a broad understanding of business can greatly improve your chances of success.

These seven facts of business life are a solid foundation on which to construct your successful business. As McBean says, “If you commit yourself to understanding these facts, you’ll be creating a best-odds scenario for success.