The Secret to Business Success

I am in a conversation recently with a fellow business owner and he said, “Can I ask you a question?”  I said, “Sure.”  So he leaned in and lowered his voice to a hushed tone as if he didn’t want anyone else hear, “What is the secret to your success?”

First of all, I was flattered that he thought of my company and I as “successful” and thought that I had “a secret” to share that would make him successful too.

I paused for a minute as if trying to decide if I was really going to tell him “my secrets”.  I looked left and then right to see if anyone might be eavesdropping on our conversation.  I leaned in and responded in a whisper, “The secret to my business success is…” pregnant pause, “…there is no secret.”

It truly amazes me that some people think there is one little piece of information that if only they had, they too could be “successful” (whatever that means, but that is a different topic).

I conducted a workshop at an industry convention last year on the topic of Internet marketing.  It was a conference of competitors, embroidery shops just like mine.  One of the attendees approached me before my session to ask if I was going to share “all my secrets” during the session.  I answered, “Yes!”  The look on her face was priceless; a delicate mixture of surprise and confusion.

I’m sure it is a question that gets ask of anyone who enjoys some level of success whether it is in business, athletics, the fine arts, education, relationships, etc.   There is even a bestselling book called “The Secret” which implies that once you know the secret, your life can and will change for the better (I have my doubts.)

Truth is, when it comes to successful small business ownership, as well as success in other endeavors, there are no secrets.  Everything you need to know is available for the taking.  Everything you need to start, grow, operate and run a business has already been published.  And now with the Internet, it is even more readily available.

People are so hungry to know how to do something or find that one nugget of information that will put them over the top that they pay big bucks in the form of books, conferences and seminars to find out.  There is big business to be had in telling all “the little secrets to success.”

There are books on customer service, marketing, finance, human resource management, networking, selling, etc. etc.  You name the business topic and I guarantee there is a number of books that have been written about how to do it and apply it to your business.

Because that information is so readily available, there are no secrets.  There is nothing I know that you can’t find out on your own.

And yet, the idea persists that there is some “secret” only a few people know that make them successful business owners.  Simply not true.

So you ask, if there are no secrets, why are some businesses successful and others are not?  That is a great question and I have some experience and theories about the answer.  Look for that conversation to continue in future posts.  I am fascinated by it.

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