Although many people start their own business to get away from rules – the reality is we need them if we’re going to be successful.
I don’t believe in a doctrine of rule-bound obedience – but rather a Ten Commandments of Behaviour. These are intended as a benchmark against which to measure yourself when things haven’t gone quite right or, preferably, to measure yourself against right now and see how a change in behaviour might benefit your business.
Here are my 10 tablets of stone:
- Thou shalt have integrity at all times. It is not enough to demand something of others which you do not demonstrate yourself; so don’t expect anything from others which you would not deliver.
- Thou shalt listen to explanations fully before concluding what is being said. Listen to the end – you might be surprised by the wisdom, ingenuity and forethought.
- Thou shalt communicate with all around you. Communicate with your suppliers, customers, funders, bank manager – clearly, succinctly and accurately. If people around you do not know what they need to know, how can they give their best in supporting you?
- Thou shalt measure results in all areas of your business. Every penny you spend in your business must be an investment and must produce a return. You must eliminate all waste in your business; otherwise you are throwing money away. Measurement also helps you to continuously improve your business.
- Thou shalt test ideas and solutions before going ahead with them, or discarding them. No business will survive too many traumas, or failures, and self-inflicted ones are even harder to take. Always test the proposition first and measure the results.
- Thou shalt motivate all around you. As a Business Leader one of your prime functions is to motivate. Set your objectives as aspirational and not just safe – you might fall short but you will achieve greater things than you would by achieving lesser targets. As a result, all of those involved will get a better sense of satisfaction and achievement.
- Thou shalt hold others responsible for their level of service. We all experience situations when our suppliers fail us. The immediate response is to take their problem and try and resolve it yourself. Do not do this. Instead communicate with your customer and obtain commitments from the suppliers to resolve the problem quickly. When you take responsibility for somebody else’s problem, you are running two businesses, and nobody will thank you.
- Thou shalt not blame. Instead focus should be on resolving the problem first, and then investigating what happened, and how can the same, or a similar problem, be avoided in the future.
- Thou shalt prioritise actions and do only once. Find out the critical path of your business; what is the process flow, what is sequential, and what is concurrent? Make your business both efficient and effective. Also do the important things first, or if urgent but not important, then do it now, but don’t give it a lot of time. Similarly, get out of the way the tasks that you do not like doing.
- Thou shalt take action. Inertia is not good in a business. Ambition requires action, and extraordinary action will result in extraordinary results. Go do it.
Here endeth today’s lesson. By following these 10 commandments your performance will improve and with it the results achieved by your business.
By Garry Smith, Advantage Business Partnerships and co-author of ‘Creating Business Advantage: Setting Up and Running A Successful Business’.