Imagine this… Years ago, Warren Buffet wanted to work for someone for free, but the individual declined his offer! Sounds a bit illusive doesn’t it? But it’s a fact. In 1952, Warren Buffet wanted to work gratis for the GEICO Insurance Company. Surprisingly, Buffet was met with a refusal from Benjamin Graham. Benjamin Graham was an American economist and professional investor and is considered the first proponent of value investing.
In the 1950’s, Mr. Buffett studied under Benjamin Graham at Columbia Business School. Not only was young Buffet inspired by Graham’s wisdom of best business practices and by his intense commitment to business prowess, he was also inspired by Columbia’s academia and its students. Although Graham’s job refusal was not to Buffet’s liking, Buffet continued unwaveringly to admire Graham’s keen business practices. Because of Buffet’s persistence, Graham eventually yielded to Buffet and offered him a job in the firm.
It was a known fact that Benjamin Graham was often unfair and quite rigid toward Warren Buffet, but in 1954 Graham finally offered him a job for the starting salary of $12,000 a year. Graham made this decision because he couldn’t overlook Buffet’s irrevocable commitment and vision towards excellence. Today, a lunch with Mr. Buffet can cost you several million dollars!
Warren Buffet has never failed to acknowledge the wisdom he received from Benjamin Graham. On a particular occasion Buffet admitted: “I am 15% Fisher (Phil Fisher, a Stocks Icon) and 85% Benjamin Graham.” Buffett credits Graham for grounding him with a sound intellectual investment framework and described him as the second most influential person in his life after his own father. In fact, Graham had such an overwhelming influence on his students that two of them, Buffett and Kahn, named their sons, Howard Graham Buffett and Thomas Graham Kahn, after him.
It is quite evident that Warren Buffet continues to demonstrate his use of best business practices— he set goals for himself, achieved them, then raised the bar for his new goals, and achieved those too! As an entrepreneur, it is your mission to keep streamlining best procedures, practices, and systems that will empower quality performance in your enterprise. Exhibiting these best business practices will help to clearly focus on maintaining a strategic direction for the long-term prosperity of your company. Know your enemy is a wise adage, but what is an even more important an adage is, know your own aspirations for guaranteeing the targeted growth of your company. Adopting and improving your business practices is the key to your entrepreneurial success and emergence as a role model.
The following are just a few pointers that may help you in adopting such skills:
- Read between the lines: It is a good idea to try to visualize “the hidden message.” Great entrepreneurs, worldwide, provide highlights as they deliver their business presentations. Generally, they are mentioned in the order of importance. We refer to them as “points-to-ponder” hints. Write them down and reflect on them later so that you can relate them to your own specific form of business. Their principles or fundamentals are generally best practices that they have been pursuing for years.
- Read the environment: Try to scan current market scenarios. Keep abreast of new, upcoming companies and follow their successful business practices. Check into their money-back policies and/or guarantees. Also, try to visualize concepts that non-entrepreneurial individuals cannot visualize; for example, how the new technologies are going to dominate future business dynamics. Be curious, if not purposefully, then just intellectually. Keep putting new data and information in your rationalization system.
- Read business journals: Magazines, like Fortune and Forbes, present valuable articles on current legislations and interesting and informative interviews with new leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs. Written interviews are quite different from the “live “ones. These business magazines also address themselves to future trend forecasts that indicate which business practices and systems are yet to emerge in the future.
- Listen to business news: Make it a habit. Stay connected with your business environment. One of the best ways is to listen to business news on CNN, BBC, or CNBC. Not only do they provide you with current, invaluable business information, but they also help you become well-versed in new business terminologies and help you to brush up on your business communication skills or business etiquette. Effective business practices are always highlighted!
- Watch business interviews on You-Tube: Research any interest relevant to your business. Find out what’s going on in your field. Read people’s responses and comments so that you can understand how certain values are perceived. Since the data bank of knowledge is so vast on the internet, it is imperative that you limit your search to specific keywords.
- Brief your team when introducing a new practice/procedure: Make daily, weekly, or monthly briefings a scheduled event. It is a good way to stay connected on all levels and to know what is going on in your business as well as in your industry. Share information with your team and convey to them how that information will add value to their knowledge base and improve their productivity.
- Train them adequately yourself or hire professional support: From telephone etiquette to business writing, you need to train your employees to ensure standardization and uniformity of your business procedures.
- Implement and monitor new ideas: It is wise to allow time for your employees to absorb new concepts or operational procedures, but it is also important to set a deadline for its implementation. Internal memorandums/circulars help employees remember implementation deadlines. Follow up and cross checking procedures may also be required. Be sure to tell your team that they may be monitored beforehand. What you are looking for is a conscious effort by your employees to implement necessary changes.
- Move on to next level of training: Once the practice is mastered, introduce a new one. Convey to your team that continuing excellence in your company is an on-going process. Remind them that training and developmental procedures for them and their team are part of their job description.
- Maintain consistency as you supervise or cross check for required procedures: Refrain from being too rigid. Reinforce the idea that it is an extra measure for improving organizational efficiency. Be gentle, but let them know it matters.
Following best business practices of successful industry leaders is critical for expanding your business knowledge base. These are not merely practices, but a mindset that enable you to achieve and to keep on achieving. Your unique approach to corporate culture will be reflected in these professional mannerisms.