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Three keys to business success

3 keys to success in business

One of the early lessons I learned from life was what it takes to build a successful business. I read a short story – I can't remember now where I found it. It was just a few paragraphs long – but it had a lasting impact on me.

A story about starting a new business

The story goes like this. A junior executive working in Corporate America for most of his career decided, before he retired, he would take a crack at starting his own business.

Once he got his business started, he wrote a letter to his previous boss and mentor of many years. (It's an old story and they wrote business letters in those days.) After a bit of chit-chat, he settled down to his main point. He asked his mentor, 'What advice can you give me to help ensure my business is a success and it will grow?'

After reading the letter, his mentor flipped the letter over, took out a pen, wrote three sentences on the reverse side, and mailed the letter back.

So what does it take to build a successful business?

At first I didn't think anyone could come close to answering that question in three sentences. I was sure it would take reams of paper to answer something so diverse and complex. But I was wrong – here's what his ex-boss wrote:

Three  keys to business success

01Never run out of cash – no matter what.

02Sign all checks until sales reach $100 million.

03Starting with small amounts, then increasingly larger amounts, borrow money from your banker – but always pay it back on time.

That has stuck in my mind for the last 35 years and almost not a day goes by that I don't either give myself that advice, or give it to one of my business clients.

There might be better advice out there somewhere – but I haven't heard it yet. Have you?

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