There is nothing complicated about success in business or as a nation. Surely you have heard ignorant people dismiss trickle-down economics. Let me explain: Rich people hire people, poor people don’t. Where’s the argument? People become rich because they work hard, are persistent and have faith in their own abilities. In order to make more people rich so they can hire more people, government has to create an environment to make it easier for us to attain success. That means low taxes, less regulations and fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Is this so difficult to understand? I am also aware that some people inherit wealth. So what? They still hire people. If we, as a nation, are jealous of success, then we will end up with the pathetic economies of collectivist nations.

Let me give you insight as to what business was like starting in the 60s. I brag that I never had a job and that at age 77 never worked a day in my life. After serving compulsory time in the military, I got a job in a carpet cleaning company for six months where I learned to clean carpeting and rugs in homes and in our facility. I suppose this makes my “brag” slightly dishonest. However, I never thought of myself ever working for anyone other than myself. It was pride in being the best. There were three other guys employed at the time I was hired and they had trouble keeping up. After a few months, they fired them because I was doing the work of them all and loved it—whether it was setting records how many rugs cleaned in a day or how many rugs were delivered and spread. It made the job fun. Find something you love to do and you’ll will never work another day.

During my stay at Monsey Carpet Cleaners, the owner’s son, Harry Garstein, taught me to install. He and his dad, Abe, were meticulous. We had to use a guide to give us the spacing to the wall according to the thickness of the carpet. We never used long strips of tackless because walls were never straight. We followed the contours of the walls with small pieces. Meanwhile, a friend of mine who was a partner in a flooring store offered me a job. Shortly thereafter, he and his partner had a dispute and went into the cleaning and installation business. It was there that I learned at the age of 20 success is predicated on whether people liked you or not. Our customers would buy carpeting at local flooring stores but only if the store would subcontract me to do the install. Within a short time (this was still in the 60s) I raised my rate from the going rate of $1.25 per yard to $2.25 a yard. Lesson: price is never important if you know the rules.

In a few years, amid an avalanche of requests to sell flooring, I opened a store at the ripe old age of 22. I am often approached by attendees at my seminars who say they always wanted to go into business, but they don’t know where to get the money. If you have to ask this question, maybe you aren’t the entrepreneurial type. When I inquired about leasing the store, the owner wanted three months security. I replied that I wouldn’t be able to pay the security right away and it may take a few months to start paying the rent. I promised, by the end of the year, he would have it all. Of course, you know his answer. The owner, Gene Guterl, was a builder and was in the habit of taking his favorite subs to lunch. When I found out where, I joined them, becoming his friend. Within a month, he let me into the premises, and to top it off, gave me all his business—the art of being liked.

Success in business is just as simple. Focusing on a business such as ours, where we all compete with basically the same products, it is relatively simple to identify the factors that will make us more competitive. Follow the simple rules and you can become a market leader. Run your business like 90% of your competitors, and you will remain just like them.

My wife now owns a flooring store. Seeing the town, state and federal regulations, along with the taxes and myriad of forms she is forced to fill out, I wonder whether I would have gone into business. When I opened, no licenses, forms, regulations or inventory taxes were required. With the new administration, I guarantee that most of these impediments will be gone.

The first rule of success is to separate yourself from your competition. You must train your people with real sales skills. Product knowledge is less than 2-3% of selling. Yes, your people should know everything about the products we sell, but only use this knowledge when asked. Traditional selling skills such as greeting, qualifying, presenting, overcoming objections and closing make up another 2-3%. Professional selling is the art of being liked, nothing more and nothing less. Customers trust people they like. You and your competition have the same knowledge, but if she doesn’t like you, in her mind you’re just selling. If she likes you, she’ll hang on every word.

Read a dozen books by super salespeople who make $1 million a year selling and the common thread in all these books is that they never talk about the product until the customer brings it up. You can believe me or choose to remain in the morass of average retailers. Buying, advertising, showrooms that sell, and supplier “bennies” are support systems for the art of being liked.