‘How to succeed in business without really trying’ is the title of a famous Broadway musical. It is an award-winning show that is based on a book of the same title by Shepherd Meade. This is the story of a young man who reads a self-help book and starting off as a window cleaner becomes the head of a company. This was also made into a movie and a TV show. Incidentally, the book on which the musical was based had a sub title ‘The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune’. You would have probably understood by now that the book was a satire on office politics that can help a person achieve success.
The question though is whether you really can succeed in business without trying. The hero of the musical and book did it, but can you do it? Can you succeed in a business without trying or putting in any effort? At the outset, it seems impossible. Then again we remember what Napoleon said,“Impossible is a word found in a fool’s dictionary”. So maybe it is possible! Let us explore this.
To succeed in a career, it is obvious that you need to work hard, prove your worth to the management so you can be rewarded with a promotion and higher pay. When you work for someone, you are working with the assurance that you would get your paycheck at the end of the month. In business, it is different. When you run a business, it is you who will be writing the paycheck, but for others. You may or may not get your own paycheck, because you can earn money from a business only if it succeeds.
So, we are back to the main question, can you succeed in a business without trying. Before we even try to answer this question, let us look at the core part of this topic, namely succeeding at business. How can you succeed in business and become rich and famous? When we find the answer to this question, we can also look at the ‘not trying’ part of the topic.
A business is an enterprise where you, on your own or with others, invest money, time, and effort to offer something to customers. You would do it with the intention of making money. When you start a new business, you are obviously starting from scratch. You need to start a business, start offering products and services to customers, and then start making money. To achieve success you need to do the following:
1) Monetizing an idea
For a business to succeed there must be a core idea or a solution that can address the needs or problems of customers. If your business can offer that solution, you can taste the fruits of success. An idea needs to be converted into a product or service that can be offered to the customer. This is the secret of business success.
2) Have an action plan
An idea by itself is of no use. It needs to be supported by an action plan that outlines how the idea would fetch money. The plans for creating the product, for marketing it, for research and development, for managing finances are all needed. A clear-cut plan is required before a business starts operating. This can help the businessperson to carry out its operations in a systematic way.
3) Provide leadership
A great leader can ensure a business succeeds. Leadership provides vision for the organization that can guide everyone in the organization to do their work effectively. A leader participates in the process of growth and is the driver of success for a business. You as the person who has started the business can provide this leadership to make your business earn profits.
4) A team of motivated employees
For a business to be successful, one person cannot do it all. It needs a group of people who are motivated, dedicated and work together as a team to achieve goals. Under the guidance of a good leader, motivated employees can create magic. As the leader, you need to engage with the employees, involve them in decision making, and utilize their services in the best possible way. This will help you in your quest for success.
5) Take risks
If you want rewards, you must be ready to take risks. The higher the risk you take, the more the rewards you can expect. You must be aware though that when you take too much of a risk, there is a chance of losing all your money. In order to succeed in a business, you need to take a well-calculated risk. Risk needs to be taken in a well-planned way with contingencies in place to handle any risky situation. Investing money to start a businessis itself a risk. Without taking risks,it is difficult to succeed in business. The risks though need to be properly managed to yield rewards.
6) Focus on the customer
A successful business is one that has loyal customers. A loyal customer not only sticks with you for a long time and gives you continuous business, but also recommends others to buy your products/service. Therefore, the top priority for a business should be to create loyal customers. You can do this by providing products and services of value. Putting extra effort to not just meet customer expectations, but also to exceed them is the key to creating loyal customers. Research and innovation can help in creating a product of value that customers would like.
7) Cut expenses to earn profits
A business is considered successful if it earns profits. When you earn profits, it helps you clear your liabilities and generate funds for investing on expansion. This is how a business can grow and be successful. To earn profits, you need to earn more revenue by selling more of your products. There is one more way of earning profits, which is to cut down on costs. You need to spend money on various activities to run a business. There could be many wasteful expenses. Finding out such expenses and cutting them can help you increase your profits.
8) Understand finance
Many businesses depend on a professional manager or consultant to manage their finances. It would not be prudent to depend on someone else to handle the finances entirely. A successful businessperson is one who understands finance. Money is the lifeblood of business. Managing money is a critical skill that finance professionals possess. As someone running a business, you need to understand finance to make your business successful.
9) Hard work and perseverance
There is absolutely no short cut for success. It needs hard work, dedication, and effort. As a businessperson, you need to put in effort and work hard if you want the business to succeed. If you want your employees to work hard, you need to set an example yourself. Time with family, holidays, and entertainment needs to be sacrificed when you want to make a business grow. When you run a business, you are likely to face many obstacles and also failure. A successful businessperson is one who does not give up and perseveres until the doors of success are opened.
10) Be multi skilled
A businessperson should wear multiple hats. Marketing, Innovation, Operations, Customer Service, HR, Finance – a successful businessperson should be involved in every area. To achieve success in a business, you need to develop multiple skills. This calls for extensive learning, by doing courses, attending training, and learning from others. Being multi skilled helps a businessperson to understand every facet of a business and can thus provide effective leadership.
Having looked at how to succeed at business, the lessons are very clear – you need something of value to offer to customers so that they would pay for it. You need to spend a lot of effort and time to make your business work. There is no short cut for success in a business. It involves hard work, perseverance, and ability to take risks. From all these, it looks as though you just cannot succeed at a business without trying. In every aspect of a business, effort is needed to make things work. This obviously cannot happen without trying.
However, there are certain things that can help you achieve success without trying too much. Some of them are:
1) Offer a product of exceptional value
If you have a product or service that is as valuable as gold, then you probably need not put in too much effort. If you find oil in your backyard or have rare minerals in your land, then even without much effort you can make your business succeed and earn money. The other way is to create a new and innovative product -something that others do not have. It must be something that is unique and offers great value to customers. When you innovate and create such a product, you need not try to succeed at a business; success will chase you. However, even this involves trying. Without effort, you cannot innovate and create something new.
2) Inherit or buy a successful business
Now this seems like the perfect answer to the title of this article. If you inherit a successful business that would be the sure fire formula for success. You have a business that is doing well and all you need to do is just come to work, spend time, and take home money at the end of the month. If you are not in a position to inherit a business, you can consider buying a successful business (if you have the money).
Be warned though that this is not as rosy as it looks. Just because you have a successful business handed over to you, there is no guarantee that you can continue to reap its benefits. There are many stories of successful businesses folding up because of the mistakes of its new management. For a successful business to remain so, it requires efficient management and a dynamic leadership. Here again, without effort you cannot continue to hope for success.
3) Have a valuable employee who can run the business for you
A successful business owner need not run the business on his/her own. He can have a successful CEO/Manager do it on his/her behalf. If you have a dynamic and competent employee who can run your business in an efficient way, this is the perfect formula for success. You can then achieve success in your business without really trying. This again is an ideal situation, which may not be possible in practice. It is difficult to find such a genius who can profitably run your business without your contribution. Even if you find such a person, there is no guarantee he/she will continue working for you. Finding such a person itself needs trying.
Some people are lucky. They have a Midas touch that converts everything they touch into gold. Such a person can achieve success in a business even without trying. Luck is though a matter of chance. There is absolutely no guarantee that you will be lucky. You may be lucky once, but to be lucky every day and every year is not possible. Anyone who expects luck to help them achieve success is living in a fool’s paradise.
5) Working Smart
One formula for success is to work smart and not work hard. This means working in an organized and efficient way to get things done. Here also you need to try, without which it is difficult to get the desired results.
As is evident from all the above, you really CANNOT achieve success in business without trying. You need to put at least some effort, without which achieving success would be just a pipe dream. To quote politician David Bly, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted”. Without trying, you cannot hope for success. To conclude, we can say that you cannot succeed in business, or for that matter in life, without trying.