What does it take to succeed in business?

Previously I have written about my conclusions in Five Disciplines of Our Most Profitable Clients. Not everyone measures success in dollars and cents, and I’ll be the first to admit that can’t be the measure of a well-lived career in business. Looking back on my article, I recognize my observations were all about either measuring or acquiring the ability to measure results.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” is a quote credited to management expert Peter Drucker. Interestingly the same quote is sometimes wrongly attributed to management theorist W. Edwards Deming. He actually said “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth” but we seem to hang on to the other quote, perhaps because there’s a spot of truth in it. Although I think the real axiom should be “If you aren’t measuring it, you probably aren’t managing it.”

But what about the business owners that seem to succeed despite their apparent aversion to current bookkeeping, budgets or performance gauges or interest in studying the others in their industry? And their relationship with their accountant seems only to consist of dropping off a grocery bag of receipts at the CPA’s office on the evening of April 15.

Perhaps there’s something else that’s required in addition to my recommendation, or maybe they work in substitution?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran an article recently titled 10 Essential Things Successful Businesses Have in Common. Does Yours? Six of the characteristics are about the business owner and four are attributes of the business.

How do you rank what’s essential? I’m willing to say the items on my list are necessary but not sufficient.


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