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10 Powerful Lessons Everyone can Learn from Warren Buffett for Business Success

10 Powerful Lessons Everyone can Learn from Warren Buffett for Business Success

With an estimated net worth of $72 Billion, Warren Buffett is one of the most successful, wealthiest businessmen and investors of all time. There is no doubt that we can all learn more than a few things about doing business and making wealth from this remarkable billionaire, whose been acquiring, starting and growing businesses for longer than many of us have been alive.

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns and operates some of the largest corporations in the world, including Helzberg DiamondsFlightSafety International, and NetJets. And Buffett generously shares lessons he’s learnt along the way through his extensive writings and talks, and by the way he leads his life. Here are powerful lessons we can all learn from Buffett to succeed in business and in life today.

1. Do work that you love.

Success comes when you do what you love. Warren Buffet lives by this rule and urges us all to live by it too. When you do what you love and are passionate about it, he says, you’ll never work a day in your life.

“There comes the time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”

2. Don’t “thumb suck.”

Warren Buffett prides himself in making swift, well-informed decisions and acting on them just as fast. He deems any unnecessary dilly-dallying as “thumb sucking.” Do your research thoroughly, well in advance. Gather all the necessary information and act decisively. Say “No” if you have to.

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“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

3. Spell out the specifics of a deal beforehand.

Warren Buffett tells a story about when he was a young boy. His grandfather, Ernest, hired him and a friend to dig out the family grocery store after a blizzard. The boys spent five hours shovelling until they could barely straighten their frozen hands. Afterward, his grandfather gave the pair less than 90 cents to split. Buffett was horrified that he performed such backbreaking work only to earn pennies an hour.

Even when you are dealing with friends and relatives, have all the specifics of the deal spelt out beforehand, including your monetary benefits. Your bargaining leverage is always greatest before you begin a job—that’s when you have something to offer that the other party wants.

“I am a better investor because I am a businessman, and a better businessman because I am an investor.”

4. Assess the risk involved.

Think about the worst and best possible scenarios and promptly make the most rational, progressive decision. That’s basically the advice Buffet gave his son, Howie, when the FBI accused the younger Buffett of price-fixing in 1995. Howie quickly realized that the risks of staying in his then troubled company far outweighed any potential gains, and so he quit the next day. Assessing risks carefully helps you see where you are struggling and can guide you to make smarter decisions.

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“I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars; I look around for one-foot bars that I can step over.”

5. Exercise vigilance over every expense and spending.

Warren Buffett is well-known for being frugal and encouraging others to do so. He’s lived in the same house he bought when he was 28 for a mere $31,500 to date. Being frugal and conservative with your spending helps you avoid waste. And when you avoid waste, you make your money work for you and save enough to invest for the future.

“If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.”

6. Limit your borrowing and what you owe others.

Warren Buffet has never borrowed excessively, even when he was starting out in business. He says, “Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money.” He has always negotiated with creditors to pay what he can, and when he is debt-free, saved his money to invest. Living on handouts, loans and credit cards will not make you rich.

“I have pledged – to you, the rating agencies and myself – to always run Berkshire with more than ample cash. We never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations. When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.”

7. Reinvest your profits.

In high school, Warren Buffet and a friend bought a pinball machine and put it to work in a barbershop. With the money they earned, they bought more machines until they had eight of them in different shops. The friends later sold the venture and Mr. Buffett used his proceeds to buy stocks and the rest to start another business. By the time he was 26, he had amassed $174,000, which is equivalent to about 1.4 million in today’s value.

Look broadly for investment opportunities and reinvest like you have a single lifetime “punch card” with only 20 punches—make each one count. Even a small investment can generate great wealth if you are diligent enough to favor substance over form.

“I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because, sooner or later, one will.”

8. Judge yourself by your own standards.

Don’t base your decisions, successes or even happiness on what others say or do. Buffet notes: “You don’t have to swing at everything—you can wait for your pitch. The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, ‘Swing, you bum!'” Instead of following the crowd, measure yourself by your “Inner Scorecard”—your own standards and not the world’s.

 “I would say the most satisfying thing actually is watching my three children each pick up on their own interests and work many more hours per week than most people that have jobs, and trying to intelligently give away that money in fields that they particularly care about.”

9. Be consistent and patient.

Warren Buffett says, “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.” The long and rocky road to success holds many valuable lessons and makes victory that much sweeter. So, be patient and keep pressing on. Don’t obsess over quick results and instant gratification. Success doesn’t come overnight—not even for Warren Buffett.

“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”

10. Know when to quit.

Warren Buffet makes mistakes just like any one of us, but he learns from his mistakes and doesn’t repeat them. He recalls: “I bought a company in the mid-’90s called Dexter Shoe and paid $400 million for it. And it went to zero. And I gave about $400 million worth of Berkshire stock, which is probably now worth $400 billion. But I’ve made lots of dumb decisions. That’s part of the game.” He is, however, quick to add: “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

Know when to walk away from a loss. And remember in businesses and in people, better quality businesses are more likely to grow and compound cash flow; low quality businesses often erode.

“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

*all quotes are from billionaire Warren Buffett

Featured photo credit: Fortune Live Media via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Published on August 3, 2020

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

4. Create a Closing Down Routine

This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

  • Inbox
  • This week
  • Next week
  • This month
  • Next month
  • Long-term / On-hold

Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

7. Do an Annual Clean-up

One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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8. Do a Little, Often

I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

Final Thoughts

If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

More Tips on How to Be Organized

Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

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