84 Important Things I’ve Learned in Business.
Some good, some bad. Here goes:
- There is no substitute for hard work. Ever. Luck always seems to follow the hardest workers.
- Keep asking yourself — what’s my job? If the answer isn’t — to satisfy my customers — then repeat the question.
- What people say about you (whether it’s good or bad) is none of your business.
- Most obstacles can be overcome. Some via a frontal assault, some with stealth and some with patience. The trick is to find the weak point and bash away until it topples over.
- Be positive. It’s rarely as bad as you think.
- Being cool is (way) overrated. The hipsters, ‘movers and shakers’, and the ‘it’ crowd take themselves far too seriously. Same applies for anyone trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. It all seems like bloody hard (pointless) work.
- Listen to the ‘experts’, but trust your gut and make your own decisions.
- The most important thing is how good your product is. Everything else ranks behind that.
- Trust is not an ‘easy commodity. It takes a long time to earn it and a momentary lapse to lose it.
- Business is a long game, so be fair and ethical with all your business dealings.
- Customers are ‘king’ and need to be treated as a precious resource.
- Meeting deadlines is as important as anything else in business.
- Business is mostly common sense. The same can’t be said of human beings.
- Network 24/7. You can never know enough people.
- Never burn bridges. The business community is too small and inter-connected.
- Don’t believe crap like “my word is my bond”. Get it in writing.
- Never work for free. It won’t be valued and it won’t feed your family.
- Make sure bad news travels fast. Then fix the problem quickly.
- Be the best at one thing, not average at many.
- Scale only occurs when a business is built on rock-solid foundations.
- Nobody owes you anything. So don’t sulk. Instead, figure out how to get what you want.
- The world is uncertain, so decisions will always need to be made with less than complete information.
- Slow down. Get it right the first time. Then move on to the next important thing.
- Sacred cows are bad for business. So is the status quo.
- Change is inevitable, so get used to it.
- Theory is nice. But hard experience is better.
- Meetings should be short and achieve something worthwhile.
- Don’t confuse what’s urgent with what’s important.
- If you don’t know what to do, ask for help.
- “Just be better than you were yesterday” is a great organisational strategy.
- The worst-case scenario rarely happens. But you should prepare for it anyway.
- Invest sensibly based on a good understanding of the risk, but never punt.
- Don’t outsource anything valuable or that you care about.
- Hustle. If you’re not talking to your customers regularly there’s a good chance someone else is.
- Hire well and slowly but fire fast.
- Be nice.
- Don’t employ yes-men, narcissists, lazy types or fence sitters. Employ people who will argue with you and challenge you to be better and do better.
- Achieving success is hard. Bloody hard. But it’s worth it.
- Talk is cheap. Make it crystal clear what you will and won’t do. Then do it.
- It’s not about being right. It’s about making progress.
- Sweat the small stuff (before it becomes the big stuff).
- Don’t lie. Ever.
- Only do things you’d be proud to tell your family about.
- Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.
- Pay everyone on time, every time.
- Make no apologies for expecting your debtors to pay on time.
- Don’t Blame. Learn instead and move on quickly. You can’t change mistakes. Do better next time.
- Create a Hero culture. Publicly praise and reward the heroes in your business. They’ll love it and the others will want to be it.
- Steal Business. From your competitors. Pick off the ones that take their customers for granted.
- Getting press coverage is easy. But most of it isn’t worth the effort.
- Just be yourself. If you’re different at work than at a BBQ you’re faking it.
- Mistakes are okay. Just don’t make the same ones twice.
- Stay young, even when the years start mounting up.
- Laugh. Smile. Tell funny jokes and stories. Be the happiest person at work.
- Ask the dumb questions to avoid making the dumb mistakes.
- Costs matter. Every last cent. Only spend money on what makes you more money.
- Measure Everything. If you don’t measure it you can’t control it.
- Every time you cancel a meeting or don’t deliver what you promise adds to your reputation as a ‘flake’. That’s bad.
- Innovate even when you don’t need to.
- Conflict is inevitable. But it must lead to reconciliation.
- Set a great personal example and never be afraid to get your hands dirty.
- Money doesn’t buy influence, or friends, that last. If you need to ‘pay to play’ then you’ll find yourself easily replaceable by the next dude with a bigger wallet. And there are always plenty of those. Instead, be someone special with unique skills that people really want.
- If you think you’re important or have ‘made it’, you’re wrong.
- People lie on their CVs.
- Do it now. Before nightfall. Stop stuffing around.
- Communicate everything important DAILY to EVERYONE, not just the inner circle.
- Not everything is worth learning.
- When a taxi driver gives you stock tips, sell everything FAST. The bubble is about to burst.
- The media isn’t your friend — they’re agnostic — they’ll write about you equally if you’ve won the lottery or are going to jail. Then they’ll move on to the next story.
- Don’t be an out of date business doing out of date things.
- People only change when they want to.
- The ability to influence others is a key requirement to be successful.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be really good.
- Pick up the phone if you want to talk to the Prime Minister or Warren Buffett. They might answer.
- Get face to face with your customers and suppliers. Regularly. Consider it mandatory education.
- Bring your A-Game. To every meeting, phone call and other interaction. The “big” deal is coming. Be ready.
- Your supply chain is the backbone of your business and should be a huge generator of profit.
- Don’t brag about your accomplishments or (importantly) exaggerate them. Instead spend your time doing more and achieving more.
- Always work all the angles and think strategically.
- Be able to say “You can count on me” and mean it because it is true.
- Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
- Add more value than you’re using up. (In other words, give more than you take).
- Tomorrow is a new day. Make it your best one ever.
And now the last one and it’s as important, as all the others, if not more so.
84. Get ready enough
You’ll never be (quite) ready…
- To grab that opportunity.
- To start that business.
- To quit that job.
- To hire (or fire) that person.
- To pivot and change direction.
- To do that first keynote.
- To write that book.
- To get married.
- To have children.
- To go on that adventure.
- To face that painful truth.
- To confront that bully.
- To end that bad relationship.
- To quit smoking, booze or drugs.
- To deal with that personal foible.
- To get off the couch.
Or to make any other tough decision you know you should make.
Life is a messy and chaotic collision of circumstances and opportunities — good and bad. And the pieces will never line up perfectly before you decide to make that leap of faith that will propel you forward.
You’ll never be ready if you keep waiting for the perfect time to come.
Get ready enough.
Then do it.
That makes you ready.
No doubt I missed a few. Feel free to share your thoughts.