My father, Herman Kaufman of Philadelphia and later New York, quit school after the fourth grade—not uncommon in the old days. Despite this, he built a successful jewelry manufacturing business with his brother, Ralph, and a good life for himself and his family.
His experience taught me a lot about overcoming entrepreneurial obstacles and how to set myself up for success. Here are four "Hermanisms" that contain tried-and-true advice about business and overcoming adversity that I still use today.
1. Follow the 2-2-2 rule. The key to earnings is to plant in your mind the fact that opportunities to make money are everywhere. Every day do two things that will pay off in the next two weeks, two things that will bear fruit within two months, and two things that could yield benefits in two years.
This rule works because it sets up a success cycle. Some of the ideas you plant will germinate and some won’t, but you will be successful because you’ve planted so many ideas, written so many queries, called so many prospects and taken so many actions both for near-term success and success down the road.
2. Always keep five opportunities for business on your desk. It sounds impossible, but the idea took root in my subconscious, and it has helped me move forward. Here's an example from my desk:
- I usually have several speeches and seminars on my calendar.
- I write articles for three publications.
- I teach and am now looking for a classroom in Florida.
- I keep Lois Geller Marketing Group humming along.
- My favorite: At the moment I’m thinking of creating a YouTube show for small-business owners.
3. Nothing happens until somebody sells something and money changes hands. Don't fall in love with your product, service or client too early. Always let customers tell you its value first. If Dad's brother, Ralph, designed a pin with a dog on it that he loved, he’d want to manufacture thousands of them right away. But my father would ask the buyers for orders first. They were his target audience and if they didn’t order, no dog pins were ever made.
4. Find experts to help you. Share your ideas with people who know more than you do, ask for advice on solving your dilemmas and show them your products.
If you pay for the expertise, it will be well worth it. (Generally, free advice is worth what it costs.) As tight-fisted as my dad could be, he always hired the best accountants, lawyers, marketing people and he sought the best advice on whatever he was doing.
My daily work routine may look different than my dad's did, but he and I have a lot in common, and I still follow his four rules. Read more business advice.
Lois Geller is president and owner of Lois Geller Marketing Group and headed agencies in New York and Toronto. Lois taught Direct Marketing at NYU. She’s the author of five marketing books, including
Response: The Complete Guide to Profitable Direct Marketing. Follow @loisgeller on Twitter and visit her blog Joy of Direct Marketing for more marketing tips.