Published - September 2004

By Dave Jakielo

You’re the Boss
Defining Success and Creating Profit

Whether your company is a corporation, a partnership, an LLC, or a sole proprietorship, if you’re the owner, you are responsible for its success or lack thereof. When you’re at the top, you can’t point fingers. You’re Number One. Remember, point a finger at someone else, and four fingers point back at you.

Being an owner can be highly rewarding or a real pain in the—well, you get the idea. The key to success is first to define what success means to you. Take one hundred individuals, and you’ll get one hundred different definitions. To help determine if you are successful, ask yourself this question: Am I achieving my goals?

Here are some goals expressed to me by some of my clients that defined their idea of success:

  1. I want to make enough money to _____________ (fill in the blank).
  2. I want to be able to create a company I can pass on to my children.
  3. I want to be able to build a company, sell it in a decade, and build another one.
  4. I want to be able to provide jobs and a good lifestyle for myself and my employees.

None of the above definitions are the one right definition of success. Anyone of them can be the right definition as long as it’s yours and you are working on achieving it. Ask yourself what your goal really is.

As much as goals differ, one common thread winds through everyone’s definition of success: you must make a profit. Even if your goal is to do good works, without a profit behind you, you’re out of gas.

Recently, in reading The Leadership Pill by Ken Blanchard and Mark Muchnick, I came across the following sentence: “Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for people.” I couldn’t agree more. Satisfied customers and happy employees are money in the bank.

I thought I would share with you some ideas as to how to make your business profitable so that you can realize your definition of success.

Many times I’m asked the question, “How can I motivate my employees”. My response is always the same: You can’t really motivate employees; but you sure can unmotivate them. The fastest way to take the air out of your employees’ balloons is to tolerate negative behavior and attitude from other employees. Negativism is a creeping cancer.

For example, say you have a member of your team who frequently expresses a negative attitude that is pulling down your entire operation. You need to have a coaching session with that employee to spell out for him that his negative attitude is unacceptable and that if his disposition doesn’t change, you’ll have to “Free him up for other opportunities”. This is a kind way of saying you’re fired.

Keep in mind that if you have a really negative team member, when you fire her you won’t even need to replace her. Everyone else’s productivity will pick up because you stepped up to the plate and dramatically improved the work environment. All that bad “MoJo” is gone. The money you save from this employee, who was a hindrance, drops right down to pork up the bottom line.

Cost Savers
Here are a few other potential cost saving ideas that drop to your bottom line;

  1. Review your phone bills. Look for any employee abuse. Some folks can’t get enough of those 900 numbers. But more importantly, shop around for lower rates. Carriers are so competitive these days that many times you can find a less expensive rate just by doing some comparison-shopping.
  2. Based on your outgoing mail volume, consider using an outside presort mailing service. This could save you two or three cents per piece, plus eliminate the rent of your postage meter and the associated personnel cost related to the mail function.
  3. Examine how many billing statements you are sending. I suggest that anything more than three contacts with a debtor is ineffective. I recommend a courtesy statement telling the offender what the service was and how much is due. Then a Final Notice. Lastly, a precollection letter. The key is to get the guarantor motivated to do something. Eliminating statements can be a huge savings and can improve your client’s collections.

Hopefully these ideas I’ve shared with you will steer you to your definition of success and give you some pointers on how to keep the profit level up to fund it.

Dave Jakielo, Seminars and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Website -

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