Small Business Leadership ~ John Wayne Style

by Michael Bowers

Rio-Lobo-John-Wayne-WesternStarting, building and growing a small business is not for the faint of heart. It is about having belief in what you are doing. It’s about your passion and seeing it through ’till the end. It’s about doing what needs to be done regardless. It’s a belief in yourself, a determination to win because you have to win. When you get down to it you need “Grit” and who has more grit than John Wayne?

So in honor of my favorite actor here are five tips you can use in your business from my favorite actor, John Wayne.

 “Life is tough; it’s even tougher when you’re stupid.” ― Sands of Iwo Jima

Running a business is hard work. You put in a lot of hours to make your business a success. Have you ever thought that maybe you are making it tougher than it needs to be? The key to business success is working smart. Not PhD smart but rather customer smart. You need to deeply understand your market and your customers. Building a better product is worthless if no one wants it. You are better off to research and find out what people want then give it to them.

“This kind of war, you’ve gotta believe in what you’re fighting for.” – Back To Bataan

Succeeding as a business owner is all about passion. Passion around your product or service is what will drive you. Passion is what drove you to step out on your own. It is what gets you up in the morning to make things happen in your business. If you are not “all in” you would be better off in a cubicle collecting a paycheck.

“All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be some place else.” – In Harm’s Way

You need to pick up the phone and cold call a prospect. You don’t want to do it. You are afraid what will happen on the other end of the line. There are many things that are unpleasant to do in business but you do them anyway. Once you dive in and take action you come to the realization that it probably wasn’t all that bad. You need to push past the fear and do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did.

“Sorry don’t get it done, Dude.” – Rio Bravo

We all make mistakes and they typically aren’t fatal. Hopefully, you can learn something from mistakes. However, there comes a point where “Sorry don’t get it done”. If someone’s actions are not helping you move the business forward you need to take action. This applies to employees, suppliers, partners and even customers. It may not be easy to separate someone from the business but not doing so could have dire consequences. When the time comes for action don’t wait, do it now.

“I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”  – The Shootist 

As a small business owner you work hard, really hard. You often serve in every role from CEO to the person emptying the trash. However, small businesses don’t always get the respect they deserve. It is up to you to position your business as world class regardless of your size. You should treat everyone you come in contact with professionally and show them you can deliver. At the same time you need to demand that you are treated the same way. Don’t let others discount you just because your business is “small”. 

You can’t serve papers on a rat, baby sister. You gotta kill him or let him be. – True Grit

There is no “kind of” or “half way” in successful businesses. You need to commit!