The rules of business are everchanging yet always remain the same. A completely nonsensical statement that anyone who owns their own business will understand implicitly. Business rules change on a constant basis. What is successful today may be laughably out of date in just a week’s time. However, there are certain rules that remain constant, even though the markets and industry change around them.
Identifying and working by these rules will give your business a better chance at success than trying to stay on the bleeding edge of conventional wisdom. Some things never change in an everchanging world.
1. Always wear clean underwear
Metaphorically, as well as literally. Your mama told you this when you were little, but it is still good advice. Accidents, by their nature, are unexpected and if you have one, there are going to be people poking around in places that are normally covered. Keeping your underwear clean means that you are ready for the inspection no matter when it happens.
2. Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects
When it comes to wisdom, Will Rogers will always be an icon. The wise business person surrounds himself with experts because they understand they don’t know everything. People who believe they know everything and can do everything will fail. You want experts associated with your business, not just for their knowledge but also because they offer your clients and customers more reasons to believe you.
3. One can learn even from an enemy
Some of the best ideas come from someone who thinks they could do a job or make a product better than what is currently available. Although there are times that is true, sometimes you learn there is a reason for doing it the traditional way. If you build a better mousetrap, the world might be a path to your door, but if it costs a thousand times more, you won’t be getting any business. Watch your competitors, their ideas may not be as good as yours but they are still ideas.
4. If all your friends jump off a bridge, would you jump too?
The reverse, of course, is also true. Paying too close attention to your competitors and not trying to come up with original ideas may make you money in the short term, but it doesn’t bode well for your long-term success. Invention trumps innovation, but innovation trumps stagnation.
5. Don’t worry when you stumble. Remember, a worm is the only thing that can’t fall down
Failure is part of life. The road to success will not be smooth for the clear majority of us and if we do not know how it feels to fail, we won’t understand the joy of success. There has never been a wildly successful company that did not have its share of failures. The thing to remember is that you learn a lot more from failure than you do from success.
Keeping it real
Many of the most successful companies are the ones that avoid the public eye, they create or perfect a product that may not have the glamour of a new iPhone, but is integral for the functioning of society. Making a successful business isn’t about making headlines, it’s about making a product everyone wants or needs.
Lee Spring, the makers of the Belleville Washers, are a case in point. Most people have never heard of a Belleville washer, but they fill a necessary role in manufacturing. Designed to act as both a spring and a washer to minimize vibrations in equipment, this product isn’t flashy or sexy, but it is necessary and therefore successful.