Do you have a great idea for a new business that you're sure will make a fortune? Have you invented a really innovative product or thought up a cool new service? Well, I've got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that it's great to be able to come up with new ideas. Having a solid business concept that fills a hole in the market -- provides a needed product or service -- is a good beginning for a business.

But now for the bad news: no matter how good your business idea, how innovative your concept, your ultimate success depends on how well you take care of all the mundane day-to-day stuff, the "business" side of business. Remember one of Rhonda's Rules is that "80% of success comes from executing the fundamentals well."

What do I mean by fundamentals? It's all that stuff in your business life that you'd rather not have to deal with: the administrative details, the order processing, the bookkeeping, the sales calls.

As a business owner, I know this stuff isn't fun. I hate having to make decisions about insurance, figuring out how much inventory to re-order, or negotiating with the landlord about our lease. It's a lot more interesting to be thinking up new products or launching a new marketing idea.

Novice entrepreneurs imagine there's some magic formula to make the nitty-gritty details go away. What they'd like -- what we'd all like -- is some one who'd run our business, take care of all the day-to-day tasks so we could just do the creative, exciting things.

Unfortunately, there's no such magic formula. If you own a business, you can't lose sight of the fundamentals. Even if you have a partner or great employees, you have to take care of some of these basic business components yourself or at least make sure they're being taken care of and taken care of right.

There's just no getting around it: some stuff in business isn't fun. But it's necessary all the same. Here's your "business fundamentals" checklist:

  • Go out there and make sales: I'm always surprised by the number of businesspeople who will do just about everything except make a sales call. Without sales, you don't have a business. Whatever reason you have for not making sales is just an excuse. Pick up that phone.
  • Do the job and do it well: At the end of the day, you have to deliver what your customer bought. Whether you're a lawyer or a landscaper, you have to be proficient at what you do and actually get it done.
  • Process the paperwork: Do you send out your invoices promptly? You can't get paid if you don't send the client a bill. Did you send the insurance form back? What's lurking under that pile of paper on your desk?
  • Pay your bills on time: Whether applying for loans or establishing credit with vendors, your need a good credit rating. You'll have a better credit rating if you pay on time even if you maintain fairly high balances.
  • Communicate: Staying in touch with your customers and your employees is a key part of your job as the company's leader. You may be working hard on a client's project, but if they don't hear from you, they'll think you're at the beach.
  • Deal with the red tape: We all hate having to make sure our contracts are in order, applying for business licenses, or, even worse, paying taxes. But you jeopardize your business by neglecting to deal with aggravating, but necessary, red tape.
  • Hire well: The success of your business depends on the quality of your employees. Don't rush when filling openings. Take your time to make sure if an applicant is the right fit for you, not just their skills but their attitude and personality. Check references thoroughly.
  • Go to work, day in and day out: There's no getting around it -- the work won't get done unless someone does it. You've got to show up to succeed. That's the most basic fundamental of all.

Copyright, Rhonda Abrams 2003

Rhonda Abrams is the president of The Planning Shop and the author of The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies. She is a popular speaker and seminar leader. Register for Rhonda's free business planning newsletter at

Published on: Nov 1, 2003