Businessman, investor and Shark Kevin O’Leary told the crowd at Monday’s AIRMILES for Business Small Business Achievement awards that entrepreneurship “is the most noble profession on earth.” Most noble professions aren’t easy, and entrepreneurship is no exception. O’Leary revealed that ABC’s Shark Tank receives 55,000 applications a year. Based on Statistics Canada data, 8,250 (15%) of those ventures will fail within the first year. By year five, half of those businesses will have tanked.

O’Leary sees failure as a necessary growing pain. He told Canadian Business & PROFIT publisher, Ian Portsmouth, in 2010: “I’d much prefer to invest in an entrepreneur who has failed three times than one who thinks he’s going to get it right the first time.”

Despite this, we’re guessing you don’t want to fail. You’re in luck, because O’Leary did share some tips for getting it right. The DNA of a successful business, according to O’Leary:

1. Employees are primary assets, anchored by culture. Fire the bad ones fast.

Related story: Beware the Culture Vulture

2. The customer always comes first. Why? Service always trumps price because it drives loyalty.

Related story: How Happy Clients Bring You New Sales

3. The boss doesn’t always make the most money. (Pay salespeople well!)

Related story: How Much Should You Pay Your Sales Reps?

4. Everybody is replaceable. (See No. 1 above.) Including you.

Related story: Why Founders Suck as CEOs

5. Business is war. Never underestimate a competitor.

6. Focus on shareholder returns, not saving the world.

For an alternate opinion, read why Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann believes earning money isn’t evil,  not doing good with it is.

Do you agree with O’Leary’s list? What else would you add? What would you omit? Leave your comments below.

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