I live & breath business every day. My life revolves around it. Nothing excites me more than running my own show & writing about it.
I'm old school when it comes to business success. For that matter even life. For me, success is nothing but an effect of all the hardwork you've put in consistently over a period of time - choices, habits, rules, grinding, mental strength & self-belief. It disappoints me when I see gurus going around & saying that they know the "secret" to success. They can help you lose 50 pounds in a week with some magic pill or exercise.
But hey, does it really work that way? No. Those gurus are lying to you. You know the fun part? You already know what you need to do to succeed. Don't you? Its just that our mind is lazy & always looking for a shortcut. That's our fundamental weakness & these gurus exploit this weakness.
There's no shortcut to success. I've built a bootstrapped business that makes $ 25,000 a month & employs around 10 people. That didn't happen overnight. I had to grind. I remember the first few months when I used to do everything on my own. Unpacking, packing, dispatch, sweeping the floors & even delivering the goods to customers in scorching heat (40 degree celcius).
Don't get carried away by the new shiny syndrome. You see startups raising millions of dollars & expanding their businesses like wildfire. What they don't tell you is how much loss they make & that their business is going to be doomed in next few years if they don't turn profitable.
So, the moral of the story? Be yourself. Build your own rules. And, stick by them. Follow them religiously.
I'm not saying you to copy my rules. This article is all about what works for me. For you, those may or may not work. Look, whether you follow your own rules or mine, that's secondary. The primary thing being you need to have rules. Doing nothing is the worst thing.
So, here we go. Here're my 47 rules of business success. Why 47? I don't know. It just happened to be that number when I was preparing this list.
- Ideas are cheap. What really matters is execution.
- Formal education is fast becoming irrelevant. Be practical. Learn from real people with real experience. Be open to learning anytime & anywhere.
- Your business need not be "cool"or "tech-stuff" or "world-changing" or "shiny". Those're the most common traps wannabe entrepreneurs fall into. You haven't build a business to show off to your mom or your best friend. As long as your business makes money & is legal, its a business nevertheless. Isn't it?
- Iterate. Don't blow up your savings in your new business or product. Invest an amount you're willing to lose. See how things turn up & decide on whether you should invest more money into it or not.
- Have patience. Rome wasn't built in a day. Even your neighbourhood mom-and-pop store wasn't built in a day.
- Meditate & train your mind to be calm in adverse situations. Business isn't for the faint-hearted ones. You'll definitely face stress. Yes, no matter whether you're doing well in your business or not.
- Focus on your health. Exercise for 30 minutes everyday. A healthy mind + body is a good recipe for business success.
- Be yourself. Be genuine. If you're an introvert (I certainly am), let it be. On the flip side, if you're an extrovert, so be it.
- Believe in yourself even if people around you don't. This rule is easier said than done. Most of the time, we see someone successful & start cursing our own life. You too can have whatever you want in your life if you're willing to do what it takes to get there.
- Routines are boring but essential. Most people underestimate the power of consistency. For me, its game-changing.
- Stay humble. Don't let money get into your head. You should learn how to tackle fame & success.
- Hire someone who can get your job done & not someone with a fancy degree.
- Pay your employees well. More than what your competitors do. In long run, this practice will help you attract & retain tremendous talent.
- Make your employees feel as though they're entrepreneurs. Reward them with attractive variable pay based on their performance.
- Treat your employees like humans & not machines. This is precisely the reason why I don't have "targets" in my organization. Instead, I offer a flat commission rate on whatever sales a salesperson has made.
- Every person is special. Let your employees play as per their strength.
- Their isn't a better marketing strategy than word-of-mouth. Its free of cost & has a domino effect.
- Simplify your business model. Don't get into complicated metrics. If you can't explain your model within 2 minutes then its complicated.
- Focus on unit economics. Each & every sale should generate profit. Have the "profit-first" mindset.
- Avoid fancy expenses even if you're doing really well in your business. A cent saved is a cent earned.
- Cut down your own salary. Plough back a major portion of your net profit into your business. Understand how capital compounds.
- Talk to at least one customer a day. As your business grows, your employees will be the first-hand contacts for your customers. However, you should take your time out & talk to at least one customer a day.
- Get on the field. Sometimes its important to get on the ground, meet your customers & face the reality.
- Do your duty & then surrender your expectations. Most entrepreneurs are unhappy because they set high expectations & then try to control everything. And, if things don't turn out as expected, they become sad. When you run a business without any expectations, you'll be happy with whatever you get. Note, I don't mean that you shouldn't plan or strategize, its just that you shouldn't obsess or care too much about the results. Lay back & give your best shot.
- Implement SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for each of your business activities. These SOPs will help you streamline operations in your business. So, less stress. Also, they'll help you to scale up fast.
- Learn the art of delegation. The more you delegate your operational work to your employees, the more time you'll have for important stuff like strategy.
- Don't delegate without a feedback loop. Example: If you delegate handling cash to an employee, tell her to send you a cash flow report at the end of every day. Delegation without a feedback loop may result in disaster.
- Keep a close tab on your numbers. More importantly on cash flow & profit. A business that generates good cash flow but poor profit will likely fail. And, a business that generates good profit but poor cash flow will also likely fail. So, if your cash flow & profit figures are great, rest assured that you're doing well.
- Be the most frugal person on earth when it comes to purchase of goods or raw material. The better rates you negotiate, the better price you'll be able to give to your customers. The end result? Better customer satisfaction & retention.
- Turn your customers into fans. Because fans will buy from you again, again & again. And, the best part? They're the ones who'll talk about your business everywhere. In short, they'll be your brand ambassadors (free of cost).
- Remove all social media apps from your mobile phone. They aren't useful & seamlessly distract your focus.
- Long working hours isn't something to brag about. They simply mean you or your employees aren't productive enough.
- Reach home on time & spend an hour or two everyday with your family.
- Don't hire your relative as your employee. It sounds awesome but won't work always.
- Practice preparing a to-do list everyday. That's a great way to stay productive.
- Differentiate your business as much as you can. That's a great way to keep people talking about your business. Isn't it something every entrepreneur wants?
- Never ever compete solely on price. Instead focus on product innovation & customer experience.
- Tell your story. Don't be a yet-another business. Tell your customers why & how you started your business. Nothing captivates people more than an engaging story.
- Leverage the power of social proof. Seek testimonials from your existing customers & show it off to your prospects.
- Nothing succeeds like a niche business. Do one thing but do it well. Don't be a jack of all trades & master of none.
- For sustainable success, make your product or service top-notch. You can't run Facebook or Google Ads always.
- Reward your customers for referrals.
- Pay your vendors on time. Goodwill pays handsomely in a long run.
- Talk to your customers as you would talk to your friends. Free, frank & genuine.
- Avoid automations for customer communications. Whenever required, send them a hand typed message or email. This simple rule will help you to have a human connection with your customers.
- Never stop learning. There's millions of business books on Amazon. Explore them, read them. At least start with an aim of reading one book a month.
- Never stop listening to your customers. This practice will help your business to stay relevant & kicking.
That's it. These're the business rules I've learned over the past 5 years. The hard way. I hope these rules will help you to avoid the mistakes I made.
All the best.
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