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Use These 6 Components to Run a Successful Business

Woman in purple blazer at desk of a successful business.

Anyone who has ever owned a business — or headed up a department or run a bake sale for a charity organization — knows there are seemingly a million moving parts that result in success or failure. Luckily, you’ll need to master only 6 components to run a successful business.

I learned these 6 components from Gino Wickman’s book, Traction.

1. Human resources

Even if you’re running the business alone, you’re still human. Admittedly, a business also needs material resources, financial resources, electronic resources, and more. But it needs at least one human.

In my view, however, just having humans as a resource doesn’t cut it. Meaning, having a human sitting “in the seat” isn’t enough to establish and grow a business.

I prefer to use New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller’s term, talent management. It’s recruiting, hiring, firing, and all that.

I’ve lost track of how many humans I’ve recruited, hired, and fired, both at the hospital and in my own business. I’ve done exceptionally well, often using only a gut feeling.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “You’re not really the boss until you fire someone.” There’s a big kernel of truth to that!

But ideally, the boss helps the team to be stronger together, and to get more training for the job.  

As you consider the 6 components to run a successful business, remember this: The other 5 components depend on the vision, skills, and problem-solving abilities of the humans who are running it.

2. Marketing

Marketing is different from messaging. 

Messaging is about the words you put in front of the customer; marketing is how you get those words to customers.

Let’s say you write a blog. The words in a blog are the message. But the topic of the blog, its schedule, and more are all part of marketing.

Hence, the blog writer (here, that’s me!) does the messaging and the marketing manager or department does the sharing of that message, whether it be through emails, postcards, or social media posts.

3. Sales

Although sales and marketing are different, a small business often lumps them together.   

As you ponder how the 6 components to run a successful business, understand that making the sale is critical. You must have something to sell, whether it’s a product or a service. Money must change hands. Your business cannot grow unless you have sales.  

4. Operations

This depends on what people pay the business for — it’s usually either products or services. It can be both.

Operations also has to do with office management, such as staff scheduling, ordering supplies, complying with fire code and other regulations, counting inventory, getting goods (e.g., books) and lining up services (e.g., printer repair, tax preparation) and more.

Operations is basically making sure that everyone has what they need to do their job and that the business has products or services to sell.  

5. Finance

If Donald Miller were here, he’d say that if a business was an airplane, cash would be the fuel. I love that analogy.    

Without fuel, you can’t formulate any business strategies, Hence, the business owner needs to deal with:

  • reality checks
  • pricing and costs
  • projecting results
  • measuring metrics

Otherwise stated, the 6 components to run a successful business hinge on whether you have enough cash to keep the doors open.

6. Customer retention

Whereas marketing is about acquiring clients, retention is about keeping clients.

This seems so straight forward, right?   


I’m fully committed to underpromising and overdelivering day after day, year after year, decade after decade as a strategy for customer retention.

As for keeping everyone happy? I don’t think that’s always possible. We take client comments seriously. However, here’s the funny part.

In the old days when we handled physical paper, we would often read one comment on one page, and the exact opposite comment on the very next page! (“Marie gave too many clinical examples.” And “Marie didn’t give enough clinical examples.”)

I learned to embrace this quote attributed to poet John Lydgate:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

Believe me, it’s true!

Regardless of what type of business you own, from a self-employed plumber, right on up to multibillion dollar technology companies, these 6 components to run a successful business remain the same.

What area are you struggling with? If you’re stuck, I’d be happy to help coach your business! Send an email to

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