(what to do, what not to do)

Running my business will require many skills and talents, which I may or may not possess. It is important, therefore, to not only do things right, but also, to do the right things. What follows are inspired mainly from common sense and also from successful experience. As success results mainly from my attitude, these are suggestions that concern my approach to business, more than recipes for success.


-        I must choose a business I like. The reason for this is that my interest will be sustained through the long hours I will have to put in at first. If I don't like what I am doing, I will soon neglect my business, grow to hate it and eventually fail at it.

-        Concentrate on doing what I am best at. If I am good at sales, my time will be more valuable selling than pushing paper at the office. I should hire someone to do this in my place.

-        I will start small.

-        I must know and fulfill my duties well first, the rewards will follow naturally.

-        Listen more than talk. This way I will learn more about what the customer wants, more about what my supplier can offer and learn more about business. Always keep my sense of humour.This does not mean telling dirty jokes, but it does mean that I can always laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously. This will help me when I make mistakes, or when I am negotiating, it will help defuse tense situations and give me an edge by reducing stress.

-        I must be patient or learn to be. This is useful in most situations, but especially, when there is trouble. Patience will help me assess the trouble, learn what others intend to do about it and give me time to come up with my own solutions. Above all I will avoid panic.

-        I must not be afraid to ask for help. There are situations I will not know how to take care of, no matter how I try. This is the time to ask for help, from someone not involved. This person can be my wife, a trusted friend or businessman. Not being involved, they will be able to give me a totally objective point of view and disinterested advice.

-        Learn all I can of all aspects of business. Depending on what I need to learn, there are all types of seminars, night courses and books on all aspects of business. It is up to me to find time to complete my knowledge.

-        Take some time off with my family. I must make time to be with my wife and children, otherwise, I will be neglecting my greatest source of support and risk losing that support, at a time, when I may need it most. Who am I doing all this for, in the first place? I must not forget my priorities. I must ask questions when I do not understand. I am never expected to know everything, even when I am in the middle of negotiations. No one can object to a relevant question, this way I will learn and be better next time.

-        Keep my banker informed of my situation. From my plan, I have determined how much money I needed to start and run my business. There may be a time when my forecasts fall short, my banker is entitled to know this, early. As a lender, he has a stake in my success, and through his experience, he can make useful suggestions. This will reinforce the bond of confidence between us and help me take timely corrective action.

-        I will not extend credit (if possible). I will use credit cards instead of credit, I need all my cash to run the business. If I must extend credit, I will first make a credit search through my bank and follow its advice.

-        If faced with delinquent accounts I will take action within 90 days and tell this to my clients. Unfortunately, some clients take advantage of a new and small business. I must not give in to this type of blackmail. A sale not collected results in a net loss to me. I cannot afford this. The delinquent client should, in the future, be made to pay cash. If he refuses, I will send him to my competitors, maybe they can afford this type of business.

-        If and when I hire personnel, I will explain what my business is all about, as part of the training. The result is that, instead of an employee, I might get a colleague, it will also make the job more meaningful to the new employee, who will feel trusted and part of the team.



-        I won't hire personnel unless I really need it. If the need for personnel is apparent, I will try to combine jobs (secretary/receptionist/book-keeper).

-        I won't make large capital purchases until my business can afford them. I will get by with the least possible in equipment machinery or space. This will keep my overhead low and will pick up what I need as the business expands.

-        If I need a partner, I will assess him carefully. My best friend may not be my best business partner. Partnerships should always be in the best interest of the business, resulting from a sound business decision and not for emotional reasons.

-        If later I decide to add a new product or service to my line, I will make sure it is destined to the same customers I serve now. I don't want to chase two rabbits at the same time.

-         I won't get discouraged. I have done my homework well and am willing to learn as I go. I will use my enthusiasm, my brains and persistence to overcome all obstacles. I will use all my resources and contacts to seek help when I need it and I will succeed.

The previous list of do's and don'ts is far from complete, but, are the most frequent causes of failure or frustration in business. The only real cure for problems is the application of common sense and the ability to retain perspective in business. Love of one's work comes third. The rest comes from me as an individual and what I am willing to put in, in order to succeed. Edison once described genius as 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.