How To Build A Successful Business The Warren Buffett Way

Men like Warren Buffett don’t just stumble onto the world’s rich list year after year and not know a thing or two about how to run a very successful business. Buffett is more than just one of the greatest investor’s of all time, just like McDonald’s is not just in the burger business, but also in the real estate business considering their immense portfolio of prime real estate around the world.

So if your thinking about starting your own business, like thousands are doing every day around the world then who better to learn from then “the Oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett:

1. Stop Talking About Starting A Business, Get Your Hands Dirty
“Can you really explain to a fish what it’s like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value.” - Warren Buffett

It is extraordinary how often I hear someone with an excited look on their face declare that they want to go into business and leave their dead end job. They continue to talk about all the benefits and opportunities that starting a business will bring to them in a manner that is more to convince themselves then it is to convince those around them that they are making a smart decision with their life.

But what is surprising is then nothing happens. Instead of starting a business with gusto they start to talk about it and drag out the whole process by weeks, months and sometimes even years. They start to see skill sets that they find lacking in their arsenal and look to investing a period in learning. This might take the form of looking at their job to learn more skills, maybe take a few courses or buy some reading material.

While I think this is sensible to want to minimise the risk of starting a business, I think it can also be greatly debilitating if the only thing you do is preparation but never taking the actual critical step of actually starting the business. Nothing can teach you more about business then actually being in the coal face day in day out. If you want to learn marketing skills for example you can attend all the courses you want but when you’ve got your own business and the sales aren’t coming in then you will learn sales skills very quickly out of necessity.

2. Find Your Business Opportunity and Believe In It
“You’re neither right nor wrong because other people agree with you. You’re right because your facts are right and your reasoning is right—and that’s the only thing that makes you right. And if your facts and reasoning are right, you don’t have to worry about anybody else.” - Warren Buffett

Brilliant business ideas and great business ventures are created every second of every day. They are all around you if you are willing to look. A common complaint with aspiring business people is that they don’t know what business to start. They approach starting a business like they would as an employee, they look for a safe option one with low risk. They are looking for that magical bullet and thus in the process get bogged down looking for that million dollar business idea hiding in the haystack.

They have the whole thing upside down in it’s thinking. You aren’t looking to try and find the next million dollar idea, rather the key is to find something you are passionate about and pursue it because you see an untapped opportunity or a market to service. After all Buffett argues “Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.” If you see an opportunity then you must believe in it and pursue it. The greatest shame is watching someone else take that opportunity to the market years latter because you didn’t have the fortitude to follow up your beliefs.

3. Find The Joy In What You Do
“I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year. I get to do it with people I like, and I don’t have to associate with anybody who causes my stomach to churn. I tap dance to work, and when I get there I think I’m supposed to lie on my back and paint the ceiling. It’s tremendous fun.” - Warren Buffett

If you want to achieve lasting success in any endeavor it has to be more than just will power, discipline and hard work. While all these ingredients are often associated with high achievers, another common trait overlooked is following your passion. Starting a business is more than just a 9-5 job, it’s an all consuming activity and if you don’t have the passion in it then it’s just about money. Nothing great is ever achieved if it’s just about money. It needs to be more than that. Passion enables you to overcome the up’s and down’s of business, the ability to soldier through the difficulties and the long hours.

Life is too short to just labor away long hours in any undertaking that doesn’t give you fulfillment and joy. You might as well just get a job because at least you’ll have less headaches and pressure. You’ll also probably be able to walk away at the end of each workday with your sanity still in check.

Starting a business that you aren’t passionate about is akin to buying yourself a job you hate and having an idiot for a boss. Sure you can argue “if only I can make a few million then I can retire somewhere”. The problem is whether that future thinking is really worth the exchange of your present moment happiness. Is it worth exchanging the countless hours spent in misery so that you might enjoy serenity at some future point in time. The great disappointment in life is that the future may never come and it may not look the way you wanted it to. Statistics show that 90% of all small businesses fail in their first year, most of them probably were trying to make a quick buck without thinking through what they truly wanted to do with their life.

4. Utilize Good Advisor’s And Mentors
“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without the first, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.” - Warren Buffett

You don’t have to feel that going into business is a long and lonely journey. There are many people who have ventured on the journey as you and many are more than happy to share their business wisdom that they have fostered along the way. Finding good advisor’s and mentors means that you are building a team of quality people around you that will help enable you to make better informed decisions.

While they are no guarantee to success they will hopefully help you to drastically reduce simple beginner mistakes that can cost you thousands and countless wasted hours. Buffett says “If you don’t know jewelry, know the jeweler” so it is with business, if you don’t know accounting get yourself an accountant. Your team at it’s core should include an accountant and solicitor whom you trust and get along with. In the larger scheme a mentor is someone who would be greatly beneficial to your journey. The only thing I would suggest to steer clear of is business coaches who offer their services for a fee. While I’m not suggesting that all are bad, the saying does go “if you can’t do, you teach”.

5. You Don’t Have To Swing For The Fence
“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.” - Warren Buffett

When I was growing up Michael Jordan was everyone’s boyhood hero. He was by far the greatest basketball player of all time. According to Wikipedia “Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include five NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and three All-Star MVPs, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

He holds the NBA record for highest career regular season scoring average with 30.1 points per game, as well as averaging a record 33.4 points per game in the playoffs.” So what do you suppose his career shooting average was. It was .497, that’s right, Michael Jordan got about one in every two of his shots in the net. Even legends don’t need to be right every time, they don’t need to sink the winning game shot every time. They just need to do the right things enough times and at the right moments. The line between greatness and average is a fine line. The difference between a great business and an average business is also a fine line and if your constantly trying to hit the fence with it you are going to be joining the bankruptcy list pretty soon.

Don’t get sold on the get rich quick mania, the rags to riches or the overnight success stories. Chances are they have been hyped up by media. A slow, disciplined slog to success isn’t a big enough story for people to pay attention to. So stick to your journey, find your strengths and follow your own path. Remember even Jordan spent countless years honing his craft and developing his skills before he even made it to the NBA.

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