15 Perennial Profit Principles

by Matthew Osborn
(Columbus, Ohio)

Start where you are and do what you can with what you have.

Start where you are and do what you can with what you have.

We can spend a lifetime learning about business - there's always more to learn.

Techniques and methods are constantly changing, new social trends can be as fluid as rivers and change their courses and boundaries suddenly or gradually over time.
But I believe that there are certain basic principles of business that will continue to be of infinite value to all business people both now and into the future, just as they have been in the past.

These Principles Can Be The Subject Of Much Study And Thought.

It might be possible to write whole books devoted exclusively to each one of them. Still, the basic themes can be summed up in just a few words to the wise. These ideas, taken to heart and applied earnestly in any enterprise can, I believe, be enduring guides to profitable, successful projects and careers.

1. Business Is Service.

The " ...fundamentals are all summed up in the single word 'service'..."(Henry Ford: "Moving Forward," 1930 )
As Zig Ziglar puts it, "You can get anything you want out of this life if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
All business transactions take place because both sides are convinced they are getting something they want: a problem solved, a need met, a desire fulfilled. Not many are going to buy from you just to make you happy. But if you can make them happy, you will find many buyers.

2. Know Your Stuff.

  • Read, learn, and practice; be the expert on your business.

  • Don't pretend to know what you don't, and don't be afraid to admit not knowing everything.

But know as much as you can about your business.

Read books and magazines, watch programs, and search the web for facts about your field, your competitors, your customers, and the past, present and future of your business.

3. Do What You Say.

This single principle, put into action, will put you ahead of most.

  • If you can't deliver what a prospect wants, don't say you can. If you have a money-back guarantee, refund a customer's money promptly and courteously if she asks for it.

  • If you don't do what you say you will do, people won't trust your offer, no matter how good your product and price may sound.

4. Under Promise And Over Deliver.

It's always better to be pleasantly surprised than to be disappointed.

  • When the candy seller starts out with a little candy on the scale and adds more until the weight is right, the customer thinks "He adds more!" Another seller may start out with a big pile and take candy away until the weight is right. Then the buyer thinks "She takes candy away." I

In both cases, the end result is the same amount of candy, but the customer's feelings of satisfaction may be profoundly different.

If you create expectations greater than you can fulfill, your customers will be unsatisfied. Try to exceed the customer's expectations, and this is easier if you don't promise more than you can really do in the first place.

5. Have A "Customer First" Attitude.

Always ask yourself: "What's best for my customers?"

  • Sometimes you'll have to make a conscious effort to make this question a part of your daily business decisions.

  • This is one of those things that are much easier to say than to actually do.

6. Communicate.

  • Don't leave clients, prospects or associates with a feeling of worry or uncertainty.

  • Even if you don't have the answer they want right away, tell them that you don't have the answer but that you will get back in touch at a certain time -- and then do that.

A customer will excuse a missed service call if she knows that your truck broke down and you'll be there the next day. If you simply don't call, she'll be angry with you not keeping your word. This goes for employees, associates, suppliers and everyone else that you deal with in your business. Everybody feels better when they know what's going on.

7. Get Help When It Means Better Results.

Hire people who do their assigned tasks better than you do them. Use outside services like payroll accounting, mailing services, marketing firms, etc., if they can do a job better.

  • Frequently you'll find that using a pro is actually cheaper than doing it yourself.

8. Focus On The Mission.

As your business progresses, you will begin to see all kinds of possible additions to your lines.
But don't lose sight of your main objectives. It's easy to let some of these projects draw your attention away from your basic business; you could end up expending more time, effort and money while getting a smaller return.

9. Stay Alert; Innovate, Improvise, Work Around.

So your plans for the day didn't work out the way you had counted on.

  • Don't let that stop your whole day from being successful -- work around the obstacles in your path. Don't let problems stop your progress, overcome them.

  • If one door is locked, look for another. If your car won't start, take a bus or a cab to your appointment.

10. Price Right.

The wrong price can seriously hurt your success.
A price that's too low can be even worse than one that's too high if it prevents you from having the resources to provide the best service to your customers.

A Good Profit May Help Keep You Motivated Through The Tough And Discouraging Times That Come To All Businesses.

Your prices will have to pay for: rent, utilities, repairs, insurance, outside services, taxes, licenses, registrations, back-up resources, advertising, supplies, tools, equipment, replacements for equipment, postage, phones, pagers, fuel and everything else that makes it possible for you to serve your customer.

  • There will be unexpected costs and uncollected billings; your prices will have to cover all of that.

  • A very low price might even cause prospects to doubt the quality of your offer. Read about pricing, learn to test prices and make pricing a part of your overall business strategy and marketing position.

11. Give A Little.

Sure, you have to keep an eye on the bottom line, but you don't have to make a profit on every single thing you ever do in your life.

  • Give full measure, pressed down, heaped up and overflowing.

  • It'll be a better world for everybody. A little good will here and there can go a long way towards a greater business overall.

12. Cut Costs As You Raise Quality.

I guess it comes down to not wasting assets.

  • Don't buy what you don't need or can't afford, but get top quality when you can. Spending a little more up front can mean fewer repairs or replacements, decreasing your expenses in the long run.

13. Make An Offer.

Do something! After all the thinking and planning, and reading, and number crunching -- you eventually have to actually offer to sell somebody your product or service.

  • Tell people what you do or provide, ask for their business. Get an order, deliver the goods, and get paid. Then you'll be in business.

14. Make Continuous Improvements.

Little by little, small improvements add up over time.
You may not be able to make your business perfect, but if you continuously make it better as you go along you may be amazed at the results.
Remember the old self-improvement motto, "Every day in every way I am getting better and better"? Apply the same idea to your business and soon you'll be far ahead of where you are now. The time going to pass anyway, you might as well put it to good use.

15. Hang In There; Be Persistent.

"Press On: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
(Ray Kroc, "Grinding it Out")


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