I have been in business for over thirty years. Over those years I have thought many times about what it really takes to succeed in business.
When I started my first business I read everything I could get my hands on. There were a lot of books then and there are a lot more now that promise to give you the keys to success.
There are books and courses to teach you how to “Think and Grow Rich”. There are lots of business planning books and tools. There are plenty of courses and books on every aspect of starting and building a successful business and there are thousands or tens of thousand of people who read them. I am one of them. To a degree the books and courses all can and will help you.
But, if thinking, planning and hard work were the answer there would be a lot more rich people and successful businesses.
I love to talk with regular people who have became successful in spite of tremendous disadvantages. It is from these people who you learn the real secrets of success and the truth is there are no secrets.
From the people I have met and from my experience the way you succeed is from absolutely refusing to let any failure stop you. It doesn’t matter that you lose everything, that you get sick or that everyone arround tells you that you can’t possibly succeed. If you don’t quit you will ultimately succeed.
I have found that successful people are generally not smarter than anyone else and although they work hard, they don’t work harder than other people.
What’s really cool is most of these people started with little or nothing. When you hear or read their stories and you see all the business killing mistakes they made and still succeeded you can’t help but believe “if he did it or she did it I can too”.
Let me tell you the story of my friend Milt. We have been friends for close to thirty years. We met in the early 1980′s just as the economy was going into a very deep down turn. Over the course of several years as the economy worsened milt and I lost everything.
Milt, at 50 years old, was reduced to living in a camp trailer in the back yard of a friend’s house. This went on for several years. At a time when many people would give up and fall into despair and asking “why me”, Milt kept trying. Milt kept looking for the way. Late at night over coffee we talked about different business ideas. Always looking for the way to make it happen.
Milt hit upon a business idea involving installing phones in vacation rentals and collecting a small fee for each phone call. I have to admit that I didn’t see the potential in the business. I introduced him to his first customer and promptly moved out of the state to pursue my own ideas.
We stayed in touch by phone and on semi regular annual hunting trips. Milt’s business grew slowly, but it did grow. Then came the explosion of personal cell phones. His business model was doomed. Milt didn’t quit he figured out a way to change his business model and kept going. Business grew. Then came 9/11. His business collapsed over night.
That October we got together for our annual hunting trip. Milt wanted to talk about what was happening with his business, which had grown to about twenty employees. So we stayed up all night with Milt talking his way through all of the issues he faced and the decisions he had to make. With the collapse he had been forced to lay off many of his employees. All of his advisors wanted him to sell what assets could be salvaged and quit. So at the age of 60 Milt was once again faced with loosing everything.
One night of the trip we talked all night, as Milt worked through his what to do next. In the morning he made the decision. His advisors were wrong and he would change the direction of his business once again.
In 2008, at the age of sixty-eight, Milt sold his business to his employees, which numbered by then close to eighty. The business no longer resembled the idea he started with. Recognized as the industry leader the business today employees 180 people and is growing rapidly.
Milt succeed because he refused to quit when time after time everything turned against him.
People who succeed in spite of the bad decisions they make or when everything turns against them do not personalize their failures. They accept failure as just another step toward ultimately succeeding and don’t take it as a character flaw.
Please give me your comments or hopefully your own stories. If you have questions send them in and I will try to give you positive answers.