What does it take to be successful in business?

A question I will often ask during an interview with potential candidates for a business or franchise is, “What does it take to be successful in business today?” Common answers I get are:

  • Persistence
  • Dedication
  • Product knowledge
  • Financial planning
  • Attention to details
  • Money
  • Leadership
  • A clear business plan
  • Location, location, location
  • Hard work

All of these factors will contribute to your success, but none will have value if the one key ingredient is missing. What is really takes to be successful in business is – CUSTOMERS. Without a focus on the customer, your business will not succeed, no matter how great your leadership skills, how perfect the location or extensive your product knowledge.

The entire purpose of business is to attract and keep customers. It should become the focus of everything you do. Look at mission statements of most successful organizations, and there is a focus on the customer. Successful organizations create a customer-focused culture. Key attributes to this culture include;

  • Listening to the customer and what they have to say
  • Knowing who your customer is and what they value
  • Training and empowering employees to take care of the customer
  • Measuring customer satisfaction on a on-going basis
  • Always trying to exceed the customers expectations


Harvey Lamm, as President of Subaru of America, stated it best. “To satisfy the customer, it means that everyone in the company has to understand that the existence of a company depends upon the customer, so if the customers not satisfied, he is not going to be a customer tomorrow, we don’t have a business tomorrow.”

The true measure of your success and commitment to having a customer driven culture ultimately is measured by the customers themselves. Perception is reality. They will tell you if you are doing well by frequenting your establishment and place of business. If they do not feel their needs are being met, they simply go somewhere else. If they are receiving poor value, and you are lucky, the customer will sometimes tell you. Unfortunately, only 4% will complain. 96% will leave without complaining. More often, they won’t tell you, but instead their friends and acquaintances. Statistics show that an unhappy customer will tell on average 8 to 10 people of their unpleasant experience.

Franchising offers you an opportunity to capitalize on someone else’s customer- the franchisor and its brand. The franchisor, or parent company of the franchise, has invested time, resources and money towards creating and nurturing a brand. The marketing around the brand helps to attract customers. The operating system is designed to keep customers by providing them with a consistent positive experience that ideally exceeds their expectations. By following the established marketing programs and operating systems, you are able to get into business and achieve success quickly because there is an established customer base to draw from. Think of franchising as a license to service the customers of an established brand. What a wonderful way to start a business!

If you are looking to get into business for yourself, remember what it takes to be successful in business- CUSTOMERS. Whether with a franchise, or as an independent, create a customer driven culture and your business will be on its way to success!


Wayne Maillet is the President of Franchise Specialists, with over 20 years of experience in franchising and business development. Mr. Maillet lives in Vancouver and can be reached at 604-941-4361, or at franchisespecialists@shaw.ca