How to Be Successful in Business

Over the years, I’ve been asked on many occasions to speak at schools, universities, and colleges on my experience as an accountant and, more specifically, as a self-employed practitioner.

At those presentations, I share many of my trials and my challenges, but also the many moments of discouragement and the times I felt very alone. I speak about the impact being self-employed can have on your mental well-being and the constant struggle to maintain a healthy positive outlook on business and life. 

And of course, my presentation will also then lead to the many successes I’ve enjoyed and the tremendous rewards that come along with success including the impact I can have on my family, my clients, my team, my community and to some extent, the world- and, of course, the fruits of labor on my pocketbook.

Now before I continue, maybe it’s a good I idea that I define success as I see it. 

To me, being successful in business is the good fortune of getting up every morning, eager to go to work, enjoy what I’m doing almost every day, getting a sense of fulfilment, and going to bed at night satisfied and content.

But let’s be honest, the other component is the money. Not to say that money is the reason I get up every morning. Far from it. But making good money sure makes going to work a lot more fun. Receiving a good paycheck at the end of each month not only makes surviving the sometimes difficult, never-relenting grind easier to bear, but better financial success buys freedom and security while reducing many of the everyday stresses of life. 

Some of those freedoms include the ability to more easily pay for any unfortunate surprises that come our way, to buy the toys or the family vacations you’ve dreamed of owning or doing, and the freedom to help family members, people you love, or your favorite great charity. 

A profitable business also provides the kind of security which will often go a long way in stabilizing many marriages.

And finally, good profits allow you to buy better equipment for your team, improve the working environment, and, more importantly, allow you to compete with your competitors in paying your team well for the great work they do for you.

Without fail, at the end of my presentations at these learning institutions, during the question-and-answer period at the end, there’s always someone in the room where I was presenting who would ask: 

What is the secret to running a successful business?

or “What are the things I’ve learned over the years in practice that has provided the greatest impact on my accounting practice?”. 

It suddenly dawned on me that the answer to those questions often changed at each presentation. The reason being is that I could not clearly identify the ONE thing that made the greatest impact. With that, I figured it was time for me to clearly identify what are the most important components, or the things I believe I did well over the years and that allowed me to enjoy the success I have enjoyed.

With that in mind, I came up with the 3 major skill sets I believe a very successful practitioner must master:

Technical skills – the knowledge required to properly service your clients (taxes, bookkeeping, auditing, bookkeeping software, etc)

Marketing skills – the ability to attract and retain clients

Management skills – the ability to make the right business decisions related to hiring, motivating, creating efficiencies, creating and interpreting the data needed to make the right decisions and a lot more

From there, it also become obvious that I needed to drill it down a bit more. And so I decided to put pen to paper of the things that I believe contributed most to the success I’ve enjoyed.

I came up with ten things that I refer to as the 10 Pillars of Success.

I’m not saying that there are only ten things anyone needs to do right to achieve success. Obviously not. But I do strongly believe that if you can work on these 10 pillars it will undoubtedly have a measurable and, I dare say, incredible impact on your practice, on your wallet, on your mind, and on your over-all well being. 

Every now and then, when I share these 10 pillars with others, some are happy to point out items that I should have included in the 10 pillars that were missed. Without exception (so far) each ‘missed’ item will either fall into one of the 10 pillars identified or, while still important, did not make the top 10 cut because it’s really not nearly as important as the identified first 10. 

Now many of you will possibly read through the 10 pillars I’ve identified and say “well of course. That’s logic. I knew that”. Well, that may very well be, but the question then is: to what extent are you REALLY working these on 10 pillars? To what extent are you intentionally working on these 10 pillars to ensure they are ALL done EXTREMELY well?  Speaking for myself, it’s a constant, continuous battle. It’s something I work at every day. 

I therefore invite you to our RPM website to download the 10 Pillars of Success document. And please, please let me know what you think. There’s nothing like a great discussion to refine thoughts.

If you have a question or something to add about this month’s article, or just need a sounding board, you can reach out anytime.