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When You Start With the TOP, Success Follows

Business Evolution Pyramid - Tone at the Top

When you own a business, it becomes part of your being. You think about it every day beginning first thing in the morning until you put your head down that night. You worry about everything - sales, cash flow, personnel, profitability, and your mood changes multiple times a day depending on the issues you face. What can you do to keep improving, to make sure it is sustainable, and ultimately, to make sure your dreams are realized? When you began, you had a vision, a product or service, formed a team, developed a plan, and charted a course for success. Even when the business proves to be successful, you worry, constantly looking at metrics and KPIs, refining short and long-term plans to ensure that your business stays relevant so that it will stand the test of time. All well managed sustainable businesses have certain elements in common: talented individuals (T), operations that have clearly set processes, chain of command, and a strong culture (O) and a product (or service) that is continually being refined and improved (P)………………………..TOP!


Lee Iacocca once said, "I hire people brighter than me and get out of their way." Well, this could not be more accurate. For example, I co-founded the accounting, tax, and business advisory firm, Citrin Cooperman over 40 years ago. If I have done anything well, it is to surround myself with people that are smarter than me. Think about this - I have never done a tax return, including my own. What we did do was hire and develop a dedicated team of the most talented, tax professionals to handle the client work allowing me to focus on developing the business strategy and growth plan, and oversee the recruiting of more talented people so we could continue to grow.

The key to finding and retaining top-level talent is to empower them. Let them understand your expectations, make sure everyone is on the same page, pay them well, and as Lee Iacocca said, get out of the way. People want to be proud of their company. After all, who wants to work in company with a poor reputation and little regard for their clients or staff? I often tell our partners and staff that there are no limits to what they can achieve at Citrin Cooperman. If they’re willing to put in the effort - work hard, service clients the way they would expect to be serviced, teach and empower their staff to understand our business and bring value to the work and our clients, bring in new business opportunities, and bill and collect timely. I am very happy to help them create a plan to reach their goal. When our people do well, the company does well. EVERYONE BENEFITS!


What is it that your business does? What is your company known for? If I asked your clients about your business what would they say, in particular, what would they say needs to be better? What is the process that ultimately develops the product? A well run business has a strong foundation. No matter the size or location of your company, the product and the process to get in to the end user will spell success or failure. When you own a business that does not operate efficiently, – risk increases, costs go up, and profits are not optimized.

As your business grows, so grows the CEO’s responsibility.

Overseeing culture, profitability, cash flow, growth, risk, technology and client relationships is demanding but seeing it work is VERY rewarding not only in terms of profits and earnings but also in improving confidence and self -esteem.


What are you selling? Your product (or service) is the foundation of your business. Without a quality product, your efforts are fruitless in building a lasting, successful company.

Examine your deliverable and ask yourself:

  • Is there a clear value proposition?
  • Is my product unique or better than my competitor(s)? What are my differentiators?
  • Is it priced right for my market and my cost to provide?
  • Will I attract one-time customers or repeat buyers? Do I need to expand my product offerings?
  • Is my go-to-market strategy effective?
  • Are my customers happy with my product?

Bottom Line

Being successful requires a lot: the ability to be flexible, ambition, drive, consistency in the treatment of staff and clients, and never being satisfied with the status-quo. Revisit your vision regularly, listen to people, and review your business goals study the competition. Be open to new ideas and opportunities, understand what your customers want, and make sure you do your best to deliver and exceed their expectations.




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