Ten Secrets of Success

This is a guest post from Aaron Muderick. He sent this is two months ago. “Wait a few days until I write about entrepreneurship as a viable personal finance strategy,” I told him. Somehow a few days stretched into a few weeks. But I'm here to make amends at last!

I like reading self help/advice books that are dated by a few decades. It helps to put them in perspective and it separates the wheat from the chaff. J. Paul Getty wrote How to Be Rich in the 60's and there is one section I've found particularly informative over the years. I think his philosophy is quite in tune with the mantra preached on Get Rich Slowly:

10 Secrets of Success by J. Paul Getty

1. Almost without exception, there is only one way to make a great deal of money in the business world — and that is in one's own business. The man who wants to go into business for himself should choose a field which he knows and understands. Obviously, he can't know everything there is to know from the very beginning, but he should not start until he has acquired a good, solid working knowledge of the business.

2. The businessman should never lose sight of the central aim of all business — to produce more and better goods or provide more or better services to more people at lower cost.

3. A sense of thrift is essential for success in business. The businessman must discipline himself to practice economy whenever possible, in his personal life as well as his business affairs. “Make your money first — then think about spending it,” is the best of all possible credos for the man who wishes to succeed.

4. Legitimate opportunities for expansion should never be ignored or overlooked. On the other hand, the businessman must always be on his guard against the temptation to overexpand or launch expansion programs blindly, without sufficient justification and planning. Forced growth can be fatal to any business, new or old.

5. A businessman must run his own business. He cannot expect his employees to think or do as well as he can. If they could, they would not be his employees. When “The Boss” delegates authority or responsibility, he must maintain close and constant supervision over the subordinates entrusted with it.

6. The businessman must be constantly alert for new ways to improve his products and services and increase his production and sales. He should also use prosperous periods to find the ways by which techniques may be improved and costs lowered. It is only human for people to give little thought to economies when business is booming. That, however, is just the time when the businessman has the mental elbow room to examine his operations calmly and objectively and thus effect important savings without sacrificing quality or efficiency. Many businessmen wait for lean periods to do these things and, as a result, often hit the panic button and slash costs in the wrong places.

7. A businessman must be willing to take risks — to risk his own capital and to lose his credit and risk borrowed money as well when, in his considered opinion, the risks are justified. But borrowed money must always be promptly repaid. Nothing will write ‘finis' to a career faster than a bad credit rating.

8. A businessman must constantly seek new horizons and untapped or under-exploited markets. As I've already said at some length, most of the world is eager to buy American products and know-how; today's shrewd businessman looks to foreign markets.

9. Nothing builds confidence and volume faster or better than a reputation for standing behind one's work or products. Guarantees should always be honored — and in doubtful cases, the decision should always be in the customer's favor. A generous service policy should also be maintained. The firm that is known to be completely reliable will have little difficulty filling its order books and keeping them filled.

10. No matter how many millions an individual amasses, if he is in business he must always consider his wealth as a means for improving living conditions everywhere. He must remember that he has responsibilities toward his associates, employees, stockholders — and the public.

Entrepreneurship is an excellent choice for achieving your financial goals. Often it's the best choice. Look for additional coverage of the subject here in the future.

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14 years ago

I think one of the biggest problems for businesses today is a complete and utter lack of any regard for tips #9 and #10. While there may be plenty of small businesses that hold themselves to these kinds of standards, try to name even one large multinational-type corporation that follows these.

While there probably are some that do, the public perception is that corporate america actually holds its customers and employees in contempt, and in business, perception is all it takes to ruin a company.

14 years ago

This advice is not be an abomination, indeed.

14 years ago

J Paul was lying, creating a pop mythos for gullible rubes. This is particularly obvious when you read his advice, like point #2. The central aim of business has nothing whatsoever to do with producing better quality goods. This concept has long been disproven by people like Bill Gates, who became the world’s wealthiest man by selling products that were vastly inferior to competing vendors’ products. Getty’s advice is a sham, to conceal the truth of his own wealth. Getty was an oil man, he was part of an oligarchy that monopolized the oil business. In Getty’s day, and today,… Read more »