Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Twelve Rules for Building My Business

It’s funny how some people will try to build a business. They may or may not have a vision, and they can want it so bad that they will do anything to get there, including engaging in unscrupulous activities.

For me, it’s important to have the rules of engagement clearly defined. Here are the twelve rules that I am using to guide my new business’s activities:

1) Go home everyday and look my family, friends, and other that I respect in the eyes with a clear conscience. The well-being of my soul comes before building my business.

2) Do not represent companies that engage in unethical activities. That is why I started my company, and why it has a very specific mission statement centered on principles.

3) Try every day to give more than I get. The reality is no one is coming to my grave because of financial windfalls or the company I am developing. They will come because I made a difference in their lives. A measure of a man is not how big his bank account is, but how many people show up at his funeral.

4) Culture: My culture will support people and promotions for merit-based, honest hard work. In every agency I’ve worked in, there has always been a political player(s) who seeks power by climbing over others, brown-nosing or worse, taking credit for someone else’s work, or twisting facts to their favor. Such people will not be welcome in my company. Period.

5) Be the best, not the biggest. This is where customer value is created. Team training, education and a corporate commitment to learning the latest trends and best practices are the foundation of success. The vision is to be the very best practitioners possible, not the biggest agency on the block. If that means capping out at 15-20 people, so be it.

6) Understand that others won’t play by the rules: My rules are not the market’s rules, as there are black characters (see April entry on Scarpias and Iagos, that simply defy ethics and logic. They will even fabricate lies to tear down their so called friends and competitors. However, these players should not affect the way business is conducted, even if they try to directly and negatively impact my efforts. To paraphrase Marcus Aurelieus in his Meditations: “The best vengeance is to not become like the man who offends.” How true. But at the same time, I will not knowingly enable these characters by giving them my business or support.

7) Lucky number seven: Have fun. Play hooky one afternoon a month no matter what.

8) Make mistakes, get up the next day and try again. With honest assessments, mistakes are the cornerstone of growth and development, and all people make them.

9) Don’t look to others for approval. New ventures are new for a reason, and success is in the eyes of the beholder. What people say or think about me is none of my business, except those that I am directly serving in some capacity. Also, that means when people are trying to give me grief, I’m not taking.

10) Never win a battle to lose the war. Don’t let greed or ego drive business decisions. Fast, rash decisions based on unscrupulous desires often lead to the corruption of more than just a singular business transaction. There are always ramifications to taking the short road. I once knew someone who said it was OK to lie to people so long as the parties heard what they wanted. Are you kidding me? In my book, it’s simply easier and better to do the right thing, even if it means walking away from a deal that most would take. If compromising ethics is the price of winning, then the battle is not worth the fight. Financial rewards can always be found elsewhere.

11) Pass it on. Find people to give your knowledge to… In fact, this is one of the reasons I write this blog. I can’t keep what was so freely given to me.

12) Remain humble: There is always someone sharper and better than me. If I know most everything there is to know about a profession or running a business, then it’s time to hang ’em up. I’ve successfully self-selected myself as past my prime, and should retire.

This blog entry marks the beginning of my second month of business. Month two begins with a healthy first month’s profit, five clients, a growing new business pipe, and several 1099 players that can evolve into bigger relationships.

Life is good, but it is not a time to rest on my laurels. The next month’s activities are critical, as June tends to be a hyperactive business month going into the summer.

This holiday weekend will see some R&R. It’s a brief respite, a time to have some fun. Have a great memorial day weekend!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember also that you are a small business and to support other small businesses. When you go out for lunch or take a client for dinner, remember first to think about support a locally owned independent. If you expect others to support your own independent business, you have to return the favor.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love working with you and plan to continue our association, Geoff.


3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hear hear! it's a fantastic list. i was on a similar path to start a design business (my partner ran in to some unfortunate luck) and your list reminds me a lot of ours -- priorities, ethics, an appreciation for the creative process, and feeling good at the end of the day.

keep up the great work!

5:42 PM  

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