The Guiding Laws of Business (Part 1)

Another Wall Street Historic District panorama
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Lately, there have been a couple articles written and books released (37Signals’ ReWork, Behance’s Making Ideas Happen, etc.) that have the latest and greatest in “ideapreneurship” (and we highly recommend both), but they aren’t as brutally honest as they could be. They’re telling you what has worked for them, and what you as a business should do to keep forward momentum. And they are absolutely dead-on (for the most part). But here’s the thing: you can change yourself….and that’s it. While you’re busy innovating, the rest of the business world either shifts or stays depending on trends, leadership, customer response, or simple guiding laws in the business world. Trends, leadership, and customers are all things you can’t know, or even control. But the guiding laws of business are things that you should know. Some of them are simple reminders from high school economics. Some of them are things you don’t want to know. But all of them are required knowledge for the entrepreneur that wants to move their business forward.

1. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. So stop whining.

Newsflash: other businesses don’t care about your business. Particularly if you’re in the same sector. Even if it seems like they do, the only reason they are helping you out is because there’s something in it for them (either immediately or in the future). No business in their right mind would willingly put themselves out of business by helping the competition. It’s economic suicide.  So when other businesses do something that slight your product or services (whether an information leak, a marketing campaign directed against your business or product, etc.), stop whining. You’ve heard it before, but you forget it often: it’s not personal, it’s business.

2. Businesses make money.

I know, I know. Your business is the next great philanthropic world-changing organization. But before you get there…you have to pay this month’s rent. So sure, cling to your values and principles. But make sure that you have a monetization plan. Businesses make money. Period. If you’re in business to see the world change, maybe you should look at starting a non-profit. Because the rest of the pack is trying to pay the bills and turn a profit. And you’ll get left behind…regardless of your great dream for Planet Earth.

3. The Business is an Extension of the Leader(s)

Examine your strengths, your weaknesses.  Now look at your business. They most likely share similar strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a rule of the business world: your business is a reflection of your leadership. This can be a scary thing, particularly if you fail often in particular, fundamental-to-business issues (if you don’t handle money well, for instance). But knowing this when going into business is helpful. Because you can surround yourself with other leaders that complement your strengths and support where you are weak. Two things stick out here: it takes more than one leader to build a successful company and it takes different kinds of leaders to build a successful company.

Those are the first 3. More to come. What are your thoughts?

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