Attitude makes all the difference in a successful business


    I was asked by a Web site developer for my top 10 business tips for new business owners. After 38 years of ownership, I realize that I have seen a lot of businesses come and go. Each business was unique because owners are unique.

    That being said, here is my not really very humble opinion.

    Here are 10 universal business tips:

    1. Know your market. If there is no market, or a weak market, for your product, success is doubtful.

    2. Customers and employees are your only true assets. Without them, physical assets become merely objects, or worse, liabilities. If you don’t have customers, every other consideration is mute. Employees must attract and retain customers.

    3. Beware of friends and relatives. People should be employed for their capabilities, not for their bloodlines or social connections.

    4. Push hard when things are tough, and just as hard when things are good. There is never a time to let up. Your competition won’t.

    5. Hire to have done what you don’t do well, if it is essential. Know what’s essential. Hire good counsel and listen to them.

    6. Know your numbers. Not knowing your numbers is suicidal. Read your financial statements. Learn what they mean.

    7. Neither a borrower nor lender be, unless you have done your due diligence. If you borrow, be sure your cash flow covers repayment. Lenders need that information from you.

    8. Get out if your health, family and spirit tell you to. You can walk out of bankruptcy court but not the morgue. Stress kills.

    9. Never give up if you can see an opportunity and have thought out No. 8. If you can take the heat, focus all your skills on succeeding.

    I have never seen a successful business that had never faced a challenge. I have experienced highly stressed owners dying or suffering life altering illnesses due to stress.

    10. Love it or leave it. Your attitude is everything. If you hate what you do, customers and employees will pick up on it. That’s not good.

    If you think this list is incomplete or you have a different view, I would love to hear from you. E-mail your opinion to me at

    I have been given the privilege of writing this column, so if you have a better idea, I would be glad to pass it on.

    Paul A. Hense, CPA, is president of Hense & Associates, a local accounting firm. He is also past chairman of the National Small Business Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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