“Human energy is a limited resource. It’s better spent laser-like on important things you can change than diffused on unimportant things you cannot.”

– Michael Masterson

Idea for a New Book

What Do You Think?

I’ve dug myself into another hole of hyper-ambitious goal setting. I’m in the middle of writing 28 books.

That’s not an exaggeration.

And now Lindsey, my partner in a business that will be publishing a few of those books, has suggested that I might want to write yet another one – a 29thbook!

Longtime readers of this blog will have noticed that I’ve been publishing drafts of chapters for one of those 28 books – a project  tentatively titled Principles of Wealth. (I posted the most recent one hereon Monday.)

Lindsey’s idea is that I should write a book like Principles of Wealthbut about business – the most important, universal discoveries I’ve made about starting and growing successful businesses over the past 40 years.

At first, I was horrified. I’m already pushing myself to finish the 28 I’m working on now. Why take on a 29th?

But Lindsey pointed out that, in our archives, we have literally thousands of essays I’ve written about entrepreneurship, marketing, business management, hiring and firing, employee motivation, product development, and the like. She explained that she and her team would select their favorite bits, and I could pick some of my own. Then we would put them all together and publish the result.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I could use most of the new material I’ve been writing, as well as my best essays from the past. And if it works, instead of adding to my pile of work, it will subtract from it.

So that’s the idea.

This morning, to get started on it, I jotted down the first 20 important-and-universal business principles that came to mind. Here they are:

The Fundamental Principles of Starting and Growing Almost Any Business  

  1. Superstar entrepreneurs believe in the importance of learning and are committed learners. They like the feeling of knowing more than others and being perceived of as smart and knowledgeable. Thus, they are continuously striving to know more about not just their own business but business generally.
  2. Although they are competitive learners, superstar entrepreneurs are not jealous of their smart and knowledgeable peers. On the contrary, they seek them out, both as colleagues and employees. Believing in the general utility of escalating knowledge, they work towards building teams of learners to give their companies significant market advantages.
  3. Superstar entrepreneurs believe in the wisdom of saving and are committed savers. They do this personally and corporately by retaining sufficient earnings to build cash stockpiles for future growth.
  4. Superstar entrepreneurs believe that hard work is a virtue. They pride themselves on being among the hardest workers in every work environment they find themselves in, and typically work 50 to 60 hours a week and sometimes more.
  5. Superstar entrepreneurs have a healthy respect for danger. When confronted with possible dangers, they do not ignore them. Nor do they run from them. Instead, they assess the risk and work quickly to reduce or eliminate both the likelihood of the feared event and its possible damage.
  6. As their businesses grow larger, superstar entrepreneurs look to make them “antifragile.” They work continually to strengthen their strengths, eliminate weaknesses, and diversify sales and product lines to increase overall revenues and (more importantly) independent sources of income.
  7. Superstar entrepreneurs are not gamblers. They take “risks” only after calculating the odds. What they are looking for are favorable odds – much better than 50/50.
  8. As revenues grow, superstar entrepreneurs make sure that expenses do not grow accordingly. Although they understand that growth usually entails spending more on real estate, support services, and general payroll, they look to balance increased expenses by making division managers justify those that are especially sizable.
  9. Superstar entrepreneurs understand that the single most important asset of any business (or any enterprise of any sort) is the quality of the people involved. In hiring and managing employees, superstar entrepreneurs spend 80% of their time and effort courting, hiring, and developing superstar employees.
  10. Superstar entrepreneurs see opportunity in almost every situation – from attending meetings to casual conversations to what they choose to read in their spare time.
  11. Superstar entrepreneurs understand the value of action.When they decide to move forward with a business or project, they follow the rule of “Ready Fire Aim.”
  12. Superstar entrepreneurs are motivated by challenge – and one of their most motivating challenges is when someone tells them that an idea of theirs is bad or unrealistic.
  13. Superstar entrepreneurs do not like bureaucracy in any form, but they understand that some bureaucracy is necessary to limit the natural chaos that comes with rapid business growth.
  14. Superstar entrepreneurs do not believe it is their job to motivate their employees or to make them happy. They teach their employees that job satisfaction comes from doing valuable work in service of the company’s customers.
  15. Superstar entrepreneurs understand the value of trust and loyalty. They also understand that loyalty cannot be demanded. It can only be given – and is almost always given in response to the trust and loyalty they themselves display.
  16. Superstar employees know that they cannot motivate the entirety of a workforce to work harder through general incentives. They know that the only way to get more productivity out of any group is to demand more from the people already doing most of the work and to fire those doing the least.
  17. Superstar employees understand that competition among employees is a two-edged sword and are always seeking ways to make it work productively – which is to say in the long-term interest of the business.
  18. Superstar entrepreneurs understand that a business is comprised of several interests and perspectives: shareholders and employees on the inside, and the customers’ experience of the company’s products and services on the outside. The healthy business, the superstar entrepreneur knows, is one that gives priority to the outside priorities.
  19. Superstar entrepreneurs understand that a business encounters different challenges and opportunities as it grows. At each stage of growth, they identify the biggest ones and devote their primary efforts to them.
  20. Superstar entrepreneurs recognize the value of business metrics – that these metrics can be very powerful when used discriminately and not as the primary method for making decisions. In every business sector and in every company, there are usually two to four metrics that are extremely important. The superstar entrepreneur focuses his and his employees’ attention on those.

Even as I write this list, I can imagine you thinking, “Aren’t these too obvious to mention?” Or perhaps, “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

And my answer would be, “Yes. But all the most important secrets of success in any endeavor are essentially simple and therefore obvious if you don’t fully understand what they mean and how to use them.”

So those are 20 of perhaps 50 important lessons I’ve learned about entrepreneurship, business development, and business management over the years. Simply stated, they are just maxims. But Lindsey and her team and I could easily add personal anecdotes and researched facts to support them and turn this into something much greater than the sum of its parts.

A book? A course?

What do you think? Would this be something you’d be interested in? Something you’d find useful in your career?

Let me know on the “Contact Us” page of this blog.