From the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

You must develop seven key habits for business success. The absence of any one can be costly-if not fatal-to your business. When you become capable in each of these areas, you will be able to accomplish extraordinary results far faster and more easily than your competitors.

1. Plan thoroughly. The better you plan your activities in advance, the easier it will be to get the results you desire. To plan better, ask and answer the following questions:

  • What is my product or service?
  • Who is my customer?
  • What does my customer buy?
  • What does my customer consider value?
  • What makes my product or service superior to that of my competitors?
  • Why does my prospective customer buy from the competition?
  • What one thing must my customer be convinced of to buy from me?

2. Get organized before you get started. Bring together all the people and resources you determined you will need in the planning process. It is absolutely essential that you determine every ingredient you will need before you begin business operations and bring them together, so they are ready to go when you open your doors or begin your project. The failure to get even one important ingredient in advance can lead to the failure of the entire enterprise.

3. Find the right people. Ninety-five percent of your success will be determined by the people you recruit to work with you. The best companies have the best people. The second-best companies have the second-best people. The third-best companies have average people, and they are on their way out of business.

4. Delegate wisely. You must develop the ability to delegate the right task, to the right person, in the right way. Identify the two or three things you do that contribute the most value to your company, and then delegate the rest. Learn to think in terms of getting things done through others rather than trying to do them yourself. It's the only way you can leverage and multiply your special skills.

5. Inspect what you expect. Develop the habit of proper supervision. Set up a system to monitor the task, and make sure it is being done as agreed upon. Delegation is not abdication. You are still responsible for the ultimate results of delegated tasks. You must stay on top of them. Set up a system of reporting so you are always informed as to the status of the work. Make sure the person knows what is to be done and when, and has the time and resources to get the job done. The more important the job, the more often you should check on progress.

6. Measure what gets done. Set specific, measurable standards for the results you require. Everyone who is expected to carry out a task must know the targets that he or she is aiming at, how performance will be measured and when results are due. You have to set specific deadlines to make your numbers on schedule.

7. Keep people informed. People around you need to know what is going on. Your bankers need to know your financial results. Your staff needs to know the status of your company. The more thoroughly, accurately and regularly you report to people the details and situation of your business, the happier they will be, and the better results they will get.


Adapted from Million Dollar Habits: Practical, Proven Power Practices to Double and Triple Your Income(Entrepreneur Press) by Brian Tracy.