What are the top 10 business commandments? Running a business is hard work. If more people know that upfront, they wouldn’t invest thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars into concepts that are likely to fail if a plan isn’t adhered to or if leadership is lacking.
However, business is also a game. So, anyone willing to play it has the right to do so. From my experience developing my own businesses, studying business and accounting, and helping other small business owners actualize their own dreams, I think there are some fundamental concepts that should be acknowledged before anyone attempts to run their own business(es).
Of course, this list won’t resonate with everyone. However, many of the commandments are directly related to the reasons some businesses have failed and others I’ve worked with have thrived.
Following are the 10 Business Commandments of doing business:
- Value Your Employees
- Know Business Fundamentals
- Have a Plan
- Stick to Your Plan (Consistency is Key!)
- Value Your Vendors
- Implement Feedback from Customers
- Have Easy-to-Follow SOPs
- Maintain Good Business Standing in Your Community
- Work with a Mentor
- Continue to Learn and Work on Self-Improvement
1. Value Your Employees
How many times have you visited a store or restaurant where the employees look bored or dissatisfied. Did it make you want to return and do business? On the flip side, have you ever visited a cafe or store where the workers are vibing with their jobs, have great attitudes, and big smiles slathered across their faces? I have, and it rocks.
Going to an establishment like the latter affirms that you made the right decision by spending your hard-earned money at that place. The folks you encounter are happy so, clearly, something is working. I can’t say the same for the former example.
Work-wise, it is always more enjoyable to work with people that value your leadership and insight. The opposite… not so much. Everyone just wants to feel valued and as if the work choices they are making are supporting their long-term goals. If employees/teammates don’t feel as if they have a voice, are constantly being told to do different things, and rarely receive positive feedback… they’re going to leave you and your shitty business. And high turnover rates can ruin a startup, simply from the labor required to add them to a new system and, of course, the process of re-hiring and training.
If there’s one piece of advice fresh entrepreneurs take from this article, let it be to value the people that work with and for you. They are your greatest assets, and developing good communicative skills is key if they are going to stick through the ups-and-downs and grow with your business. And that, truly, is one of the big goals.
Another means of valuing your employees is to recognize the upfront and ongoing costs of labor. Yes, payroll is expensive and oftentimes the biggest cost of doing business. But, your job is to ensure the people that work for you not only do their jobs but have enough to live on and are valued for their time/effort.
If you are trying to scrape by and pay your employees less than they are valued for, there will be an energetic disharmony in your business and increasing dissatisfaction from your staff. Understand the costs of doing business and be grateful when you find good players for your team.
2. Know Business Fundamentals
After you have started a business is not the right time to learn how to do bookkeeping, scheduling, payroll, or even invoicing for vendors. You need to do your homework and make sure you have budgeted for all needs, including a lawyer, accountant, and the software needed to run your business. Furthermore, you need to know how to utilize the tools.
3. Have a Plan
You know how the old adage goes… “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It is so true, and I really wish more people understood this. You don’t need a 350-page plan outlining every single step, but you do need a solid business plan which you can share with fellow owners, potential investors, and use to hold yourself accountable. Furthermore, you need realistic projections so you can track milestones and later assess what is working and what is not.
4. Stick to Your Plan (Consistency is Key!)
Now that you have a comprehensive plan and financial projections, it’s time to do the bloody work and see what happens. While you problem-solve and track your businesses’ growth, you’ll need to constantly interpret the data to assess what is working. However, don’t be too quick to change up the play until you have given the plan a chance to properly work. Furthermore, have realistic expectations which are based on the culture of your business and marketing efforts. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t give up on your castle just yet…
5. Value Your Vendors
No matter the industry, you need to respect and value your vendors. Not paying on time, ignoring emails, and being inattentive with their time and the work they’ve put into their products is disrespectful and ultimately bad for business. Don’t be surprised if they stop supplying your business and/or have bad attitudes when dropping off the product.
6. Implement Feedback from Customers
Who knows your business better than those who experience it first-hand? Be willing to accept positive and negative feedback to adapt (not completely alter) your offerings and services.
7. Have Easy-to-Follow SOPs
SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures, are essential for any workplace to function well. If you throw employees into the mix and hope they “catch on” without any real guidelines or SOPs to follow… GOOD LUCK.
The consistency of your business will suffer, your team will be confused and/or frustrated by the lack of communication and inconsistency, and your reputation as a competent owner or manager will suffer.
8. Maintain Good Business Standing in Your Community
Regardless if you disagree with how other people run their businesses… don’t let your ego override the rules of the game. Losing your cool isn’t only bad for your professional image as a business owner (and similarly, credibility and established respect), but it is likely to alienate your offerings and customer base.
Go out of your way to be thoughtful and compassionate to others who are going through similar processes. Learn from each other and walk away if they have questionable business practices. It’s not your job to bad talk or try and “ruin” their business. In fact, doing either will cripple your own efforts and distract you from the awesomeness you are creating. Don’t waste your energy on such frivolous matters.
9. Work with a Mentor
Working with a mentor is essential in my book. They are typically older, wiser, and have more experience… which can prevent you from making a lot of mistakes. For instance, my work with several mentors has helped me better understand fundamentals like the ones being discussed in this article.
10. Continue to Learn and Work on Self-Improvement
A business is a business. It isn’t worth ruining your life over or stressing yourself to death. If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to manage the stress load that accompanies the process of building and running a successful operation.
That said, the business you start is an extension of yourself and what you hope to share with the world. The moment you stop working on self-development, that’s the moment your vision loses momentum.
Never stop looking forward and expanding with grace. Keep your eye on the ball, so to speak, and remember why you started making your dreams a reality in the first place.
You can do it!