Do you look for excuses to work less?
Do you ever complain about how much money you’re
Last month, we talked about two entrepreneurs,
and what was different about them and their success.
Across town, another business entrepreneur,
Bill, is going through much the same kind of beginning.
He’s just not making what he wants to make. But
his approach is different. He goes to work early and stays
later than anyone else in his small company. He looks
at every aspect of his business. He talks to customers,
tries to learn what they really want or expect. He makes
changes he can afford to make. He goes to seminars. He
participates in his trade association. He asks his more
experienced and successful peers how they did what they
did. He keeps and studies his operating metrics regularly;
making changes he believes will improve his business.
He reads and reads and reads. Bill also takes the time
to clean his place of business himself (because he can’t
afford to pay someone else to do it at the time) and keeps
it looking sharp as a whistle.
After awhile, Bill notices that his revenue
is going up. His shop seems busier than it did a year
ago. He’s becoming acquainted with his customers
and vendors by first name. He knows many of their likes
and dislikes and does his utmost to give them the kind
of service they seem to like. He’s even checked
out his competitors, including Joe, to see how their shops
look and function; he’s talked to a few of their
customers, even went in as a customer himself on a few
occasions just to see how they treated him. He always
came back with new ideas, and he always put the new ideas
Two years down the road, Joe is still
wondering why his paychecks are not sufficient to pay
his bills. Bill, on the other hand, is enjoying a significant
increase in sales and has hired an office manager, has
a happy sales team and two auto dismantlers working full-time.
Bill has more free time, but, unlike
Joe, he doesn’t take it. He still gets to work before
anyone else and generally leaves after everyone else has
gone home. Much of his time is spent analyzing the way
his business operates. He also spends more time developing
relationships. He takes his banker to lunch now and then,
and visits his vendors to see if there may be better ways
to manage their service to him.
Joe still rides the edge of obscurity.
Hardly anyone knows him; they just know of him. He never
goes to the association events. He seems jealous of his
competitors, never shares anything about the industry,
and actually runs down his competitors to his ever dwindling
list of customers. He has a hundred reasons why his business
is poor: a lousy location, bad weather, lack of good employees
or any of an infinite number of excuses even though every
competitor has his own set of obstacles.
What’s the difference between these
two men? Is it circumstance? Or did they actually have
something to do with their “fate”?
Bill took charge of his destiny and Joe
did not. Bill took every opportunity to learn more about
his business, about his customers, about his peers, vendors
and industry. Joe did not. Joe always put complaint first
and took every opportunity to escape. Bill developed a
strong work ethic. Joe became lax and lazy, justifying
his bad luck on changing times and big money competition.
Yet both operators were equally skilled, faced similar
opportunities and had the same access to resources and