What makes a successful business person? Business people who are tops in their field have a lot in common, and art professionals can learn a lot from their successes and strategies

What makes a successful business person? Business people who are tops in their field have a lot in common, and art professionals can learn a lot from their successes and strategies

Murray Raphel

I have a theory on doing business. If my business is good, it’s not because of the weather, the time of year or the economy. It’s because of me. I’m doing something right. If my business is bad, it’s not because of the weather, the time of the year or the economy. It’s because of me. I’m doing something wrong. Somebody is always buying something from somebody, so how can I make them buy from me?

First of all, you need confidence in yourself and your merchandise with clear goals and knowledge of the products you are selling. Only then can you inspire dedication from your staff and a willingness to buy from customers.

Successful business people, no matter what their industry, have been found to share similar traits. Today’s world is no longer satisfied with simply success–we want to know how the successful get to the top. The Russians developed a concept called “anthropomaximology,” in which they try to answer the question of why some individuals outperform others. Through the years I’ve done some anthropomaximology of my own and found there are certain qualities that describe successful business people. Here are a few:

1 They constantly set higher goals Successful business people are mountain climbers who, having climbed one peak, look beyond to the next highest. They are the retailers who send 1,500 mailers to their customers and yield a good turnout of 100. But instead of being satisfied with 100, they ask how they can increase that number to 150 the next time.

For example, Donald Kelley of Kelley Frame and Art Galleries, with locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, continually tries to improve his e-mail list. “My goal is to collect 150 new e-mail names every month and send out a new e-mail message to this list every two weeks.”

2 They avoid “comfort zones” To a successful person, standing still feels like going backwards. People who stay in their comfort zones do what they did before because it’s “the way we’ve always done it:” They run the same ads, buy the same merchandise in the same way and avoid anything new, different or unusual because they feel they might do something wrong. They blame any lack of business on the weather, the time of the year, the economy–anything except for themselves.

Successful gallery owners attend art shows, read catalogs and visit other galleries in their travels. They are always searching to find unique art exclusive to their galleries. They take control of their own destiny and market their businesses as exciting destinations.

3 They are driven by accomplishments, not money

Successful people follow the theory of Apple Computer’s founder Steve Jobs, who said, “The journey is the reward.” They are customer focused, not product focused. Their thrill is not the ringing of the register but the crowds responding to their mailing. For them, there is no greater high than a line outside the store before the doors open.

4 They solve problems rather than place blame

A telephone pole blocked the view of Ron Bishop’s Canadian gallery. He knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have the telephone pole moved. His solution was to paint the pole with an Impressionistic theme. Once it was finished, the local paper came, took a picture and wrote a story about it. “It was great publicity,” said Bishop. “And then the calls started coming, asking, ‘Is it for sale?'”

Successful gallery owners do not waste their time looking at problems and saying, “It’s not our fault” or “Why didn’t we …” They say, “Let’s look at what went wrong and realize it was a learning experience and figure out how we can make it work next time.”

When a customer hears it will take a week or longer to have their art framed, and says, “Sorry, that’s too long,” do you shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, that’s how long it takes.” Or do you think, “Hmmmm, if that’s what the customer wants, how can I solve their problem?”

5 They look at the worst possible scenario

“What’s the worst possible result if we follow this plan?” they ask themselves. Then, knowing that, they decide if the risk-taking is practical.

However, once they make the decision, they proceed with the confidence, knowledge and expertise necessary to make it work.

They understand the most harmful result and then decide if they can live with the outcome. If they can, they move ahead. Confidently.

Galleries that concentrate on one type of art often decide to reach into an unrelated area. Sometimes a gallery will fail in an attempt to broaden their focus, but successful performers understand even defeat is a learning experience.

“Every time I fail,” said Thomas Edison, “I learn something.” He tried 1,114 times to find a filament to stay lit in a bulb. He failed 1,113 times.

6 They rehearse the future as they see it

“I believe our future is a one-stop shop for decorating. In addition to limited-edition prints and posters, we now offer collectibles, gift items and small occasional furniture pieces,” said Christine Knoll of the Art Gallery of Hog Hollow in Chesterfield, Mo.

Successful people move towards the pictures they create in their mind. They can rehearse coming actions or events as they “see” them. They are like chess players who can “feel” the next move of their opponent and have half a dozen responses ready when their time comes to move.

Many successful athletes will say they practice “seeing” themselves winning the race, hitting the home run or scoring the touchdown. They actually visualize a future event which gives them the impetus to achieve the goal.

How many of these six characteristics are yours? The more you have, the higher degree of probability you will be doing more business next year instead of being one of the thousands of retailers listed in the obituary pages of the local paper’s business news. ABN

Successful Business People:

–Constantly set higher goals

–Avoid “comfort zones”

–Driven by accomplishments, not money

–Solve problems rather than place blame

–Look at the worst possible scenario

–Rehearse the future as they see it

Murray Raphel is one of the nation’s leading marketing experts and author of several business books. Contact him at Raphel Marketing at (802) 751-8802 or E-mail murrav@rapheLcom.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Summit Business Media

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning