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The 7 Cs of Success and How They Apply to Business Owner Planning

Submitted by John Brown on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 8:00am
A doodle of a businessman hanging off a cliff with a human hand underneath as though to catch him.

Success can be a nebulous concept. What one business owner considers success might only be a step on the path to success for another owner. With different expectations among owners—each as unique as the owners themselves—what are some of the guidelines that advisors can use to foster the kinds of business owner planning that achieve the success owners want?

In a recent interview, Tom Morris—a pioneer of business thinking—proposed the 7 Cs of Success. These seven Cs speak to how successful people achieve excellence, regardless of field or industry. Today, we’ll look at these seven Cs and how advisors apply them when helping owners with their planning for the future.

A clear CONCEPTION of what owners want, a goal clearly imagined

The very first C speaks to having defined goals. In business owner planning, goals are the foundation of all future success. All owners have goals. The problem is these goals are typically vague. Planning for a successful future requires goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Using a proven process, like BEI’s Exit Planning Process, requires owners develop SMART goals with their advisors. Once they’ve done that, they can adequately act.

An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what owners are doing

An emotional commitment to the cause is a major aspect of successful planning. Like most people, business owners make decisions and act based on their emotions and gut reactions. Advisors must discover, through questioning, the emotions that drive an owner. Advisors who can harness this emotional side of planning can help owners move the planning process quickly and efficiently.

A strong CONFIDENCE that owners can attain their goals

Laying out all the wants and needs business owners have often causes owners to ask, “How can I possibly do all of this?” Advisors instill confidence by asking the right questions; having a process to achieve goals; and recommending specific, realistic actions to be completed on a deadline. Owners gain confidence in their ability to plan for a successful future on their terms because they have a written road map of what to do, by when, and by whom.


A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach those goals

Planning for future success is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s normal for owners to focus on fending off each day’s problems and postpone the future. This is an opportunity for advisors. They provide the focused concentration on goal attainment by quarterbacking the entire planning process. It’s the planning advisor, not the owner, who typically keeps the planning-implementation process moving forward. It’s the planning advisor who keeps the other advisors and owner informed and concentrated on plan implementation.

A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing the owner’s vision

In business owner planning, having a consistent planning process increases an owner’s likelihood of successfully pursing their vision of a successful future. When unexpected hurdles arise, advisors with a consistent planning process have the means to keep planning moving toward achieving the owner’s vision for themselves and their companies.

A good CHARACTER to guide and keep the owner on a proper course

Business owner planning hinges on trust. Advisors can effectively build trust by asking probing questions of business owners and then using their answers to create and guide a plan to achieve the owner’s goals and aspirations. Advisors “do the right thing” when they focus on what the owner wants and needs.

A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way

Business owner planning is challenging. Owners often haven’t engaged in this type of planning, nor have their advisors suggested how they might help. This can cause owners to feel reluctant to move forward. It’s important for advisors to remove uncertainty and ensure that the process of pursuing future success is enjoyable. To make it enjoyable, advisors must help owners set realistic, achievable, and actionable goals. Usually, these goals involve growing the business and cash flow. Planning advisors then establish the means of achieving growth in value and cash flow with the owner. Enjoyment and satisfaction occur as owners see their planning and implementation efforts bear fruit.


The seven Cs of success all share a common theme. They give owners control: control over their present successes and control over how they pursue future success. Many owners approach their business futures without a sense of control, which can lead to frustration and procrastination. Advisors who ask the right questions and offer a proven planning process give owners the control they seek over their futures, both inside and outside the business.


  • Advisors can help owners achieve the seven Cs of success by asking the right questions and having a proven planning process.
  • Harnessing the emotional aspects of business planning can encourage business owners to fully commit to the planning necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Control is at the core of successful business owner planning, and owners prefer working with advisors who can give them as much control over their futures as possible.

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