Every small-business owner who has ever opened up a fortune cookie has wanted the message inside to read: Confucius says: Your business will be a huge success!
Before he appeared inside cookies, Confucius was a Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher in 500 B.C.E. While he emphasized morality and social relationships, he gave a lot of advice that can be applied directly to small business. For example:
1. “He who will not economize will have to agonize.” Small-business owners needs to plan for zero. They can’t depend that every year sales will go up. Some years will be very profitable and others will be lean. Owners need to spend their money wisely so they can be prepared when results are less than what they expect.
2. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” A training program that actually teaches new employees how to be successful is critical. Too many times, training consists of “here is your desk, now get started.” New employees need to be taught the systems and processes that give that company an edge.
3. “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” Small-business success is not about taking huge risks. It depends on making small interim steps where the owner is always taking action. The key is to evaluate the results, and then take another step toward the desired goal.
4. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.” The most important skill for any small-business owner is resiliency. Failing is part of the business cycle. While failure does not always have magical lessons, it is important to let go and try again.
5. “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” Small-business owners always need to set an example for their companies because employees are always watching them. Their actions will define the company culture.
6. “When anger rises, think of the consequences.” It is easy to burst out in anger when things do not go right or someone makes a mistake. It is important to think before acting in these situations about what the implications of such an angry outburst will be. Many times, there is an alternative way to get the same results.
7. “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Passion is the key driver for any small-business owner. Striving for financial gain will never keep the fire burning when things get difficult.
8. “By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.” Owners and employees need to be constantly practicing to improve. Not enough time in small business is devoted to upgrading employees' skills.
9. “He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.” Successful business owners try to give their success away. They know that success does not depend on them, but rather it’s a total team effort.
10. “Study the past if you would define the future.” There are many business lessons to be learned from the past. Most business owners are not blazing entirely new trails. Look back to what others have done in order to decide how to move forward.
Which of these quotes rings true for your small business?
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