October 21, 2009

Tom’s 5 Keys to Business Success

The inspiration for today’s article comes from Tom Esplin, owner of Signs on Time and Tint-A-Car in Toowoomba. During a presentation this morning, Tom shared his personal “5 keys to business success.” He has graciously allowed me to share them with my readers…

  1. Refer to people who have been where you want to go
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses
  3. Back yourself
  4. Make small improvements often
  5. There is no substitute for discipline and hard work

1) Refer to people who have been where you want to go

Take time to reflect on people in your life whose example is worth following and learning from.

In a basic example, an apprentice will refer to their supervisor for the correct way to erect a wall or bake a cake.

However, that apprentice might also learn to manage money by observing an uncle who was able to retire young, and how to stay organised by observing the businesses’ receptionist.

As you choose these mentors, in addition to observing them and reflecting on what makes them great, consider talking to them and use them as a sounding board.

2) Know your strengths and weaknesses

Be sure to identify, and address, both the strengths and weaknesses in yourself, your business, and everyone in your organisation.

At 1300 Web Pro, we have a variety of individuals involved the production of a website. We have designers who are known for their keen eye, customer service folks who are known for their personality, and back office staff who are known for their thoroughness and technical skills. The business is structured to take advantage of the strengths of each individual, and to marginalise the weaknesses.

3) Back yourself

Having absolute confidence in oneself is a key in business. A strong business requires strong leadership, so pick a direction and follow it. If a mistake is made, fix it and move on.

That said, be sure to analyse outcomes objectively and don’t be afraid to change direction when necessary.

4) Make small improvements often

One of the biggest sources of innovation in a business is the “small stuff,” and you absolutely should sweat it.

Recently we had feedback from our website consultants that we had no process for issuing a tax invoice on the spot when presenting a quote, if the customer wants to pay their deposit and get their website under way.

We created manual receipt books, and it instantly improved our cash flow and offered a more fluid experience for our customers.

How often have you gone into a business and said, “Jeeze, that’s a bit silly! Why do they do it that way?”

Ask customers, employees, and yourself, if there are any little annoyances or improvements that can be made in your business, and put one or two in place each week.

5) There is no substitute for discipline and hard work

Someone once told me, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” There is simply no substitute for discipline and hard work.

Having said that, be sure to have some fun too!

Please feel free to forward Tom’s 5 keys to success to your family, friends, and business colleagues.

We’ve recently had great feedback and discussions take place in the comment section of the blog. This week, how about sharing your keys to success?

James Deck

1300 Web Pro

Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro


  1. Hey James,

    Again a great entrepreneurial blog! One of the keys to being a great business is having leaders that embody all the qualities that you want to instil in their staff (a 'Do as I do!' rather than 'Do as I say, not as I do!') philosophy.

    This most importantly means that YOU, the business owner, must also lead with the front foot and embody those qualities.

    Learning from others' actions can also make your business successful along a much faster growth pattern - if you know what not to do, then you're fast tracking your way to a better business without your mentor business' mistakes.

  2. Thanks Chris!

    You're 100% correct. A business' culture is built from the top down.

    I remember a video rental store that used to be in town -- every time I went in there I thought "Wow, what a bunch of cranky staff."

    One day I met the manager, and not surprisingly, she was even crankier than the staff were.

    Great feedback for our readers, Chris.


We'd love to hear from you. Please leave your comments, topic requests, and questions.