I once heard of an advert saying that if you sent a cheque for £20 and a stamped, addressed envelope (how old am I?) you would make £1,000 in a month. Of course, the answer was to place an advert in the paper saying just the same thing…That’s not my sort of business but I have managed to make a million a few times. I wanted to pass on some tips that might help you to find that elusive million the honest way.
1. Hard workI don’t know if you’ve noticed one common theme in stories about successful people? It’s hard work. Beckham endlessly practiced kicking a ball as a lad, Clarkson agonises over his apparent throw away one-liners (“So economical it’s cheaper than walking…”); it’s very rare that success comes without hard work. This is summed up in the famous saying, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” The American dream says that everyone can be the success they want by belief and hard work. Unfortunately, the American dream is an illusion. Sure, hard work is necessary, but it’s not sufficient. We all have certain native capabilities, and it’s clear these vary hugely from person to person. As a kid, I played football every evening, but that didn’t make me any good at it.
2. Understand where we excel and where we are weakTry searching for “strengths finder” from the Gallup organisation for some real insights. We should play to our strengths and work with a team that complements them.
3. Capital is criticalSince we’re not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths, getting backing for a business is hard, and requires serious thought. You can double your armoury by working with a partner; you can stretch things further by reducing overheads, e.g. working from home, using lower cost overseas workers; and you can get people to invest in the business and/or apply for government grants. I’ve done all of the above. Although I couldn’t advocate it, many businesses have been started on the back of a credit card. When resources are tight, it’s time to be creative.
4. DiligenceDiligence implies that hard work is complemented by attention to detail that tries to make sure things are done right first time, especially for customers. Rushed jobs done badly and then corrected are horribly inefficient. I barely need to say more. Unfortunately, I can’t promise millionaire status, but this should give you a head start. Chris Barling is chairman of SellerDeck, an ecommerce industry veteran, and an enthusiastic business angel.
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