August 1, 2004
The Steps to Success
Business and religion can coexist, according to David L. Steward in his book Doing Business by the Good Book: 52 Lessons on Success Straight from the Bible (Hyperion; $19.95). In short, easy-to-read chapters, Steward explains how you can apply 52 biblical principles to business ethics as well as personal experiences. Using intriguing anecdotes such as making his college basketball team despite opposition from his high school coach, Steward shares his journey from a humble childhood in Clinton, Missouri, to his current role as founder and CEO of the nation’s largest African American-owned company, World Wide Technology Inc. (No. 1 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $1 billion in sales).
As you browse each chapter, expect leadership tips on business management and everyday principles you can apply to your enterprise. For example, in Chapter 7, “Good Leadership Is Serving Others,” Steward emphasizes how Jesus’ mission to serve applies in the business world: Management should serve its employees to prevent a division between themselves and the workforce, he says. Instead of focusing solely on their own success, managers should motivate their employees to succeed as well. In addition, Steward notes that employees are less likely to care about a company if management doesn’t acknowledge them as an integral part of the company’s success.
Learn how to overcome managerial challenges by reading Chapter 14, “Confrontation.” Each person will approach a particular business situation differently, says Steward. Some confrontation is acceptable—and even desirable—to encourage others to discuss opposing viewpoints. To heighten creativity and ensure that the opinions of workers are heard, managers should keep an open mind. These are just a few tips that the book offers to professionals. Read on to find more advice to help you achieve success as an employee or employer:
Take risks. Behind every successful business is an even greater venture. Taking risks can be intimidating due to uncertainty about the outcome and the possibility of failure. Determined to succeed, Steward formed his company in 1990 with an investment of $250,000. Capital-intensive businesses, such as World Wide Technology, involve significant amounts of investment money before any possibility for earnings. The greater the risk, the greater the opportunity for profit, Steward contends.
Find a niche. Consider your specialized market before starting a business. For example, World Wide Technology resells information technology products to commercial, federal, automotive, and telecommunications markets. The company’s success derives from its ability to meet the demands of a previously overlooked market. Be specific about the services your business will bring to the market. Doing so will allow you to evaluate your competitors and their potential impact on your business. Knowing your market will also help you develop a better product for a specific audience.
Be consistent. Maintain a distinct level of quality by establishing a standard of excellence others will associate with your particular business. “You trust a particular manufacturer to turn out a product that you know meets a certain standard, time after time,” says Steward. Consistency benefits the reputation of a business, resulting in more profits.