What makes a company successful
in the carpet cleaning business?

By Bill Bane

Students at Bane-Clene Institute have asked me that question hundreds of times and the answer is not always popular. Success certainly comes easier if we enjoy what we do for a living.

For example, I enjoy talking with customers, but I’ve actually met people in this business who don’t like their customers. That’s a terrible handicap."Love Thy Customer!" should be a business commandment.

In my opinion, a major deterrent to success is the belief that we must personally experience everything that life has to offer. Lavish entertainment and other expensive distractions instead of working may be fun, but investing that time and money in a business will make a dramatic difference in profit, especially in a young company. Profit, not loss, will present many opportunities for fun in the future.

Even though it may be fun, I’ve never learned how to fly an airplane or sky dive and I don’t buy lottery tickets. An ocean voyage sponsored by the Marine Corps left me with no desire to go on a cruise. Gambling, drugs and alcohol are diversions that could have taken time and money from my business and I thank God every day that they didn’t.

Everyone needs some diversion from business. Golf and baseball are mine, but I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to be an expert in either sport. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a sale because I didn’t know much about basketball, football, soccer or hockey. Conversely, I’ve never sold anything while playing golf or talking baseball. Many people try to be connoisseurs in everything, often at the expense of their business.

Making a good living while spending time with family, employees and customers is my definition of success. Staying focused on company business and the industry I serve and spending my time and money in that narrow field has produced some very gratifying results. While some might consider this to be a dull, narrow existence, the IRS loves me and I love what I’m doing. Is that good or what?

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in passing along the things that have been good for me and seeing them work for thousands of others. That’s one of the reasons I chose not to fully retire and still teach part of our "Course to Success" at Bane-Clene Institute.

But, education is just part of succeeding. Learning the ground rules and then following that old nautical term made famous by President Ronald Reagan will increase our chances of success more than a hundred fold. He said, "Stay the Course!"

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