I’ve finally determined that one of the reasons my business exists is to teach me, the only mystery is whether or not I’ll let it – I’ll take instruction in what goes on all around me.
I‘ve given some thought recently to what I have been taught the last few crazy years on this journey and the following list is what I now know for sure about building a business.
1) Do work you’re proud to finish
There’s a lot said about doing something you love and, while I won’t argue with the virtue in that, I’ll take it a step farther. I love what I do, but I get paid for what I finish. It’s that last 10% often that dictates whether or not a project is a success.
It’s very easy to get passionate about a venture in the beginning, but the true measure of staying power is in the pride to see something through to the end.
Do work that motivates you to the end.
2) Connect purpose as you evolve
A lot of folks wring their hands about finding work that serves a purpose. What I’ve discovered is that purpose finds you, not the other way around. In the beginning it’s very hard to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, but ultimately purpose will evolve or you won’t stick with it.
Keep an eye out what for what really drives you to do what you do. A higher purpose is what makes this thing worth all the crap that comes with it, but don’t sweat it, live it.
3) Serve customers you respect
I’ve said that marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you, but the opposite, I believe, is true as well. In the long run if you can’t attract clients that you come to know, like and trust – and ultimately respect – then it’s hard to perform in ways that feels very authentic.
Customer service is mostly about mutual respect.
4) Give wins to everyone
If I am to be brutally honest here, this one is hard for me. I like to receive credit for things well done, but rarely is anything worth doing accomplished without the help of others.
The greatest experiences I’ve ever had in business came when I freely acknowledged the critical contributions of others at every level.
5) Treat challenges as information
Sometimes I procrastinate when I have a crushing project and I used to wonder why I did that. What I’ve come to understand is that occasionally procrastination serves as a tool for processing information.
Challenges teach us if we let them. It’s essential to adopt a mindset that intuitively wonders what every set back is here to teach us – it’s all just information.
6) Go beyond trustworthy
Yes you must earn trust – it’s essential if you are to build a business, but you must also extend trust.
If you can’t trust that others can accomplish tasks, do what they’ve promised, and make good decisions, you’ll never grow beyond what you can wrap your two arms around.
7) Hire your blind spots
If you stay in business long enough you’ll find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again. So, how’s that working out for you?
You’ve got blind spots, weak points and important issues that you don’t care to address – hire to cover these.
8. Become an elevator
The most rewarding thing I get the chance to do now that I’ve been hanging around so long is make things happen for other people.
I’ve been helped by some great people over the years and I used to think I’d earned it, but now I know it’s just a big part of the cosmic scorecard. Raise others up and the universe will take note.
9) Throw away the scorecard
Don’t tally your wins, your loses, your credits or your debits. Stay focused on what you believe in and put those beliefs into action every single day for the good of your higher purpose.
You’re a furnace and you’ve only got so much energy to burn – don’t waste a moment on what others do, just keep doing what energizes you.
10) Understand that culture is brand
Your story, your people, you – that’s your brand. Your people will go out into the market and treat everyone they come into contact with in the name of your business precisely how you’ve shown them to.
If you don’t respect your customers, don’t expect anyone in your employment to.
Bonus: Let people help you
My final lesson is a hard one. I can’t stand to ask for help and yet it’s not only the right thing to do in many cases it’s the biggest gift you can offer to others.
By asking for help you acknowledge the value others can bring and initiate a sense of receiving that is every bit as important as the act of giving.