Becoming a Business Samurai, Part 1

5 keys to a successful startup

By Samuel Bethea

Key Takeaways

  • Successful entrepreneurs have to be part samurai and part ship captain.
  • You are the face of your business—your personal character and leadership style is on display at all times.
  • Your business is only as good as the talent it can attract and retain.
  • Don’t focus so hard on topline growth that you forget about managing costs.

Starting a new venture is one of the most rewarding activities that you can undertake in business. A successful entrepreneur has many of the qualities of a samurai—one who goes alone and conquers.

Being a samurai requires many years of intense training and engagement. The point of this rigorous training is to perfect oneself for the ultimate conflict.

This may be an extreme example, but I truly believe the training that leads to becoming a successful entrepreneur is similar to the training that leads to becoming a top Samurai warrior.

Jack Welch is a great business leader who led General Electric (GE) to world class performance in the 1990s. What many people don’t know is that before Welch became such a dynamic business icon, he spent many years quietly working in GE’s laboratories experimenting, failing and perfecting a style of leadership that was optimized for people and focused on results.

Here at Rosewood, we help entrepreneurs master the various fields involved in operating a business. Being successful is not easy, but it doesn’t take a long checklist of things to keep in mind:

  1. Have a vision for the future of you business. We’ve all heard the saying, “Without vision the people perish. “ It’s true because the people who work for you are in the same boat as you. They need to know that your boat is on course and taking its passengers to the right destination. A great leader communicates a clear vision for the business and the actions the business needs to take in order reach its goals.
  2. Understand the concept of “No customer/no business.” Management guru, Peter Drucker, famously said that the first order of business is to have a willing customer. “Without a willing customer,” Drucker said, “we do not have a business. “ Never take your eye off the customer and his or her needs.
  3. Use financial management to give your business time to grow. Funding the business is what gets you into the water, but you have to keep focusing on your finances if you want to be sure you are steering your boat in the right direction. Always remember that profits are determined by subtracting your costs from your revenue. Managing costs is just as important as managing sales.
  4. Realize your business is only as good as its talent. Talent cannot be taken for granted. It is no coincidence that the most successful companies are those with a clear focus on acquiring talent and providing the right atmosphere for retaining talent.
  5. Remember that personal leadership and character is key to attracting the best talent. As an entrepreneur, you are the face of your business. Customers are buying you and your character. These attributes are apparent whenever you present your ideas to a board of investors; whenever you present your product in a sales meeting; or whenever you have phone calls with your suppliers. In any case, you are the face of the business and your character and values are on display at all times.

Our website has more tips, resources and help for entrepreneurs who are running (or planning to start) fast-growing small businesses.


To ensure you get your business started the right way, take the time to create a business plan. The five key considerations I outlined above should help you get started, gain confidence and become better focused.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where I will provide more details about starting your business the right way.

Samuel Bethea is President of The Rosewood Groups, a small business development company, helping small business with cash flow and growth by assisting with financing and business planning.
Contact us at 307 215-8410 |

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