Here are 10 golden rules for improving your business:
1. BE AWARE OF YOUR SKILLS
The safest plan, and the one most sure of success is to select the career which is most suited to your natural inclinations. We are all, no doubt, born to fulfil different purposes. There is as much diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born natural mechanics, while some have great aversion to machinery. Imagine a dozen ten-year-old boys get together, and you will soon observe two or three are developing some ingenious device.
When they were but five years old, their father could find no toy to please them like a puzzle. What they do is normal to them; but the other eight or nine boys have different aptitudes. The probability of success increases when you do what is best suited to your peculiar genius.
2. SELECT THE RIGHT LOCATION
You must be careful to select the proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper, and they say it requires a genius to “know how to keep a hotel.” You might conduct a hotel like clock-work, and provide satisfactorily for five hundred guests every day; yet, if you should locate your house in a small village where there is poor communication or public travel, the location could be your ruin. It is equally important that you do not commence business where there are already enough to meet all demands in the same business. Your business must add value to attract customers.
3. AVOID DEBT
Avoid running into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt, it is a slavish position to get in. Debt can rob you of your self-respect and make you despise yourself. You end up grunting and groaning and working for what you have eaten up or worn out, and when called upon to pay up, you’ll have nothing to show for your money; this is properly termed “working for a dead horse.”
Avoid debt, except you are a business owner who buy and sell on credit, or if you buy on credit to turn the purchase to a profit.
Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you; when interest is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst kind of slavery. But let money work for you, and you have the most devoted servant in the world. It is no “eye-servant.”
When you are on the right path, you must persevere. Though some people are “born tired”, naturally lazy and possessing no self-reliance and no perseverance. Perseverance is sometimes but another word for self-reliance. Many persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow trouble. They are born so. Then they ask for advice, and they will be governed by one wind and blown by another, and cannot rely upon themselves. Until you can get so that you can rely upon yourself, you need not expect to succeed.
I have known men, personally, who have met with difficulties, and absolutely committed suicide, because they thought they could never overcome their misfortune. But I have known others who have met more serious financial difficulties, and have bridged them over by simple perseverance, aided by a firm belief that they were doing justly, and that Providence would “overcome evil with good.”
5. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. The old proverb is full of truth and meaning, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.
Fortune always favours the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself. Do all you can for yourself, and then trust to Providence, or luck, or whatever you please to call it, for the rest.
6. DEPEND UPON YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXERTIONS.
The eye of the employer is often worth more than the hands of a dozen employees. An employee cannot be so faithful to his employer as to himself. Many who are employers will call to mind instances where the best employees have overlooked important points which could not have escaped their own observation as a proprietor.
No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience. For example, if you are a manufacturer: you’ve got to learn many details of your business personally; you will learn something every day, and you will find you will make mistakes nearly every day. And these very mistakes are help to you in the way of experiences if you heed them.
7. USE THE BEST TOOLS
Employers should be careful to get the best. Understand, you cannot have too good tools to work with, and there is no tool you should be so particular about as living tools. If you get a good one, it is better to keep him, than keep changing. He learns something every day; and you are benefiting from the experience he acquires. He is worth more to you this year than last, and he is the last man to part with, provided his habits are good, and he continues faithful. If, as he gets more valuable, he demands an exorbitant increase of salary; on the supposition that you can’t do without him, let him go.
8. BE SYSTEMATIC
Men should be systematic in their business. A person who does business by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work promptly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it carelessly and slipshod. By introducing system into all your transactions, doing one thing at a time, always meeting appointments with punctuality, you find leisure for pastime and recreation; whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something else, and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be done.
Of course, there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the happy medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can never find them again.
9. ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS
We all depend, more or less, upon the public for our support. We all trade with the public—lawyers, doctors, artists, presidents, and college professors. Those who deal with the public must be careful that their goods are valuable; that they are genuine, and will give satisfaction. When you get an article which you know is going to please your customers, and that when they have tried it, they will feel they have got their money’s worth, then let the fact be known that you have got it. Be careful to advertise it in some shape or other because it is evident that if a man has ever so good an article for sale, and nobody knows it, it will bring him no return.
10. BE POLITE AND KIND TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your customers rudely. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage he will receive.
The man who gives the greatest amount of goods of a corresponding quality for the least sum (still reserving for himself a profit) will generally succeed best in the long run. Business owners who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also.
Adapted from: 20 GOLDEN RULES FOR MAKING MONEY By P.T. Barnum
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Categories: Entrepreneurship and Small Business