Top 10 Rules of Success from Marcus Lemonis of “The Profit”

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I don’t really watch TV shows, but when I do, they typically have some kind of entrepreneurial element into them.

One of my favorites is “The Profit”, which features Billionaire entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis.

Marcus goes into struggling small businesses and offers assistance by giving them a capital injection and offering his invaluable expertise and connections in order to turn them around and boost their profitability.

Since there is no free meal in this world, Marcus receives a hefty piece of the company in return and also gets full operational control of the business for the initial, critical phase of its restructuring.

The concept is very interesting and, at the same time, highly educational, as Marcus elaborates on his thinking process and explains on camera how the business should be rectified.

Of course this is still a reality show, and as such, contains a healthy dose of drama and conflict in order to keep things attractive.

Marcus focuses mainly on Brick and Mortar plays, of which I am not a big fan, but, hey, the guy is insanely successful, so no criticism there. Also, running an online business does not offer too much opportunity for drama.

After airing more than 60 episodes over 4 seasons, Marcus did a special episode titled “Top 10 Rules of Success” where he talked about the 10 most important rules to follow in order to become successful in life and business.

He goes back to all the deals he has made (and those that did not go through) and provides a blueprint for success. Marcus did over a dozen of investments and has provided more than $60 millions in funding!

In this article, I will present his rules for success to you and offer my insights for each one of them. Let’s do it!

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Rule 1: Don’t be an ass

The first rule by Marcus is to treat other people in business (partners, customers, employees, etc.) with respect and kindness. That does not mean being a pushover, but rather to approach every transaction and partnership with a positive attitude.

When you watch the show, notice that Marcus is incredibly good at social interactions. He is very sociable and gets immediately liked, especially by the employees that he gets to meet. He has a unique ability to build instant rapport with anyone he encounters.

On the other hand, note that Marcus, over all these episodes, has met and tried to partner with a bunch of people who are borderline insane and definitely not the ones you would like to have as your partner.

Being a nice person, to put it simply, makes things so much easier, especially in the long run.

Rule 2: Make your employees number one

Continuing from the first rule, Marcus places extra emphasis on treating his employees well. He knows that when employees are taken care of by their employer, they are also going to take care of the customer. In the end, everybody wins!

This totally makes sense and remember, you have a responsibility for each one of your employees, and they expect to have your support when times get tough. Otherwise, their loyalty is going to drop like a rock and they are going to lose the sense of belonging into your company.

Labour cost is perhaps the largest cost driver in any business, so hiring people just to have them churn and leave you after a while is totally inefficient. Instead, you should incentivize them, make them part of the family and have them more attached in the business.

Valuable employees (and people in general actually) are hard to find, so when you do, you should make sure to hire them, keep them happy and help them grow along with your business.

Rule 3: Know what you don’t know

You can’t be good at everything, it is humanly impossible. So you need to accept that limitation and understand what you really know and what you don’t know. You should delegate all those tasks that you are not good at and don’t fall under your strengths.

Sure, when you first start a business, you probably are going to do everything yourself or with the help of a co-founder. But after you get some traction and revenue, you should find some people that are better than you at specific areas and make them part of the team.

Failing to bring in people to help is going to make you the bottleneck of the business and is going to create several inefficiencies. It’s a classic sign of entrepreneurial fuckarounditis, make sure you don’t fall into that trap!

Rule 4: Accept the crazy

As I mentioned above, Marcus was involved with some companies where the owners were acting like crazy people (remember, this is still a reality show). Especially when family is involved, the drama is magnified since there are more emotions involved and usually there are additional underlying issues.

This one is a bit tricky. Unless these people are able to work on their issues and get them resolved, it is very risky to get involved in the middle of a crazy situation. It is going to cost you time and money.

Personally, I tend to run away from people that fail to act rationally on a consistent basis and get easily emotionally charged. I choose to work with individuals that are more stable and can manage their emotions better.

Rule 5: Be vulnerable

Marcus mentions that you need to be willing to open up and show vulnerability from time to time. This also is kind of tricky, since your vulnerability might be exploited by some malicious party, whether a competitor, a disgruntled employee or even a partner.

For this rule, I would focus more on being genuine and authentic in your interactions, and owing any mistakes that you have made and making sure you amend those.

Rule 6: Be authentic

Marcus also notes that you should be authentic, focusing more on the story of your brand, and not so on an individual level, in his talk.

He provides examples of brands that lacked authenticity and failed to resonate with their customers, as well as examples of products that did a great job at delivering the company’s mission and were loved by customers.

By being authentic you will find out that your message can cut through the noise of the modern world and reach your target audience better.

Rule 7: Be transparent

Quoting Marcus, “Vulnerability is one kind of honesty, authenticity is another, but there is a third kind of honesty that is just as important: transparency”.

Transparency means being open and candid to the people you collaborate with and holding no secrets back. Trust is a critical component in business and can be built only when both parties are transparent and frank.

Marcus gave examples of business owners that were cryptic, acted secretively and even straight out lied. In instances like this, trust is destroyed and doing business with the other person becomes impossible.

Remember, destroying trust means that you also hurt your reputation. And as one of my favorite billionaires says:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

– Warren Buffett

Rule 8: It’s all about follow-through

With this rule, Marcus wants to highlight a quality that entrepreneurs need to have: being consistent.

It’s very easy to get excited when you first start a project or a business. Everything sounds great and you are thinking about the fancy cars you are going to buy with all that money you are going to make.

As reality sets in and you realize that this is going to take quite longer and is going to be more difficult that you had imagined, things get tough. People fail to follow through, they give up on their aspirations and go back to live an ordinary, lame life.

Marcus is famous by focusing on the 3 Ps:

  • Product
  • People
  • Process

In this case, it is the process that people fail to work on. They might follow the process for a few days or weeks, but in order to succeed, you need to do it for years or even decades.

Rule 9: Know your numbers

This is, of course, something that I have talked about multiple times.

As a business owner, you must know your numbers. These include both financial figures but also, other critical numbers that might be specific to your business or industry, e.g. number of bookings if you are a running hotel or number of pageviews if you are running a website.

How can you improve and grow your business if you do not know its numbers? It’s impossible.

A common problem that comes with not knowing your numbers is that your margins might be terrible and you might not even have a clue. This leads to inefficiencies in the business, where you focus on low-margin, unprofitable items or products, instead of putting your effort into high-margin, profitable product lines.

Fuzzy numbers might also hide something bigger, as Marcus depicted in the show. People might be stealing money from you right under your nose.

In short, numbers provide the health status of your business. You better be sure tracking them.

Rule 10: Quit whining and start winning

Show me a man that can’t stop whining and making excuses, and I will show you an unsuccessful person.

As a business owner and leader, you have the ultimate responsibility for everything that happens in your business. This is actually true for life in general, everything in your life is your fault.

As such, you need to take responsibility for your actions and mistakes. By incorporating this into your mindset, you will understand that ultimately you are the captain of your life and you have the capacity to make things better.

When you keep blaming others for your shortcomings (the government, the economy, your employees, the stars), it might feel good for a little while, but in the long run, you are doomed to remain unsuccessful.


One of the most successful business people in the world, Marcus Lemonis, shares his wisdom in the reality show, “The Profit”. He finds struggling businesses, he invests money into them and attempts to turn them around.

During his tenure on the show, Marcus has given a lot of advice, but has also learned a lot of lessons. In one of the episodes, he lays out his rules of success in making it in business.

By following his rules, it is certain that you will become a better business owner and you will increase your chances of success dramatically. Don’t forget to check out the show!

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