15 Rules For Success in Your Small Business
By Elena Fawkner
Someone sent me an email the other day. Supposedly
General Colin Powell's Rules for Success. Now, I don't know
whether they really are or not, but as I read them, I thought
they really should be called "15 Rules For Success In Your
Small Business". So, here they are:
Rule 1 - It ain't as bad as you think, it will look better in the
If there's one experience universal to ALL home-business owners,
particularly those running a business on the internet, it's the
occasional feeling that you're just spinning your wheels, and not
getting anywhere. The number of people who give up on their
businesses just as they approach the brink of success is
staggering. So hang in there and remind yourself, when things
look bleak, that tomorrow is another day, things really aren't as
bad as they seem and things really WILL look better in the
Rule 2 - Get mad, then get over it.
OK, I concede this is more general advice than home-business
advice but it applies in your home business just as it does
anywhere else. Resentment and unexpressed anger really
don't hurt anyone but the person feeling resentful and angry.
Have you ever noticed how completely unproductive you are
when burdened by resentment and anger? So feel it, express
it (constructively) and then move on. As the man said,
"get over it".
Rule 3 - Avoid having your ego so close to your position that
when your position falls your ego goes with it.
Over the course of my career I have, from time to time, met
people whose identity and sense of self-worth is so enmeshed
in what they do for a living that they literally don't have an
identity outside of their work. Because they rely on an external
source for their self-esteem and confidence, they find it necessary
to continually and relentlessly bolster their personal positions,
often at the expense of others, often resorting to political
maneuvring in the workplace to maintain and improve their
These people are the 'empire builders' you sometimes find in
organizations. They jealously guard their power base all the
while gathering unto themselves more and more responsibility,
beyond the point of being able to do everything they take on.
Because their identity and sense of self-worth depends
upon their position within their organization, what happens
when their position disappears, such as in a corporate
downsizing? It freefalls.
Don't let this happen to you. Remember that you are
something separate and distinct from your business. Sure,
you can be proud and pleased with your accomplishments
but don't define yourself through them. Your self-worth is
something that comes from inside your human self,
not your business.
Ironically, keeping a professional detachment is more
likely to secure the ultimate success of your business.
Detachment brings perspective, objectivity and clarity,
which helps you make better quality decisions.
Rule 4 - It can be done.
Don't allow self-imposed limitations to restrict what you can
and will do. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.
Well, of course, it must be something that is within your
power - you can't just set your mind on growing a third arm,
But for anything that is within human power and capability,
the saying "where there's a will is a way" is so true.
Get into the discipline of planning your life and where you
want it to go. By setting goals and planning the steps that
will help you reach them, you can achieve literally anything
your heart desires.
Rule 5 - Be careful what you choose, you may get it.
Following on from this, it should go without saying that
what you set for your goals is something you truly want
because if you do practice the discipline of goal setting
you will surely get it.
Rule 6 - Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good
Keep your eye on the prize and don't be distracted by what's
happening on the sidelines. Sure, you may not have entered
the marathon had you known there were going to be 1,000
other runners but does that mean entering the marathon
was a bad idea? No.
Make your decisions based on quality information and what's
in the best interests of your business. If someone else comes
along who represents competition for your business, don't be
put off your game. Just run your own race. There's ALWAYS
a way to distinguish yourself from your competition.
Rule 7 - You can't make someone else's choices. You
shouldn't let someone else make yours.
Ignore your mother when she tells you you're crazy
for chucking in your nice safe secure little job to start
your own business. Follow your dream, no-one else's.
Rule 8 - Check small things.
Like the fine print in contracts. Like the URL in that
sales letter you've just put the finishing touches on.
Like your spelling and punctuation. In other words,
pay attention to detail.
Rule 9 - Share credit.
You've heard the saying, "no man is an island". No
woman is either. Remember and acknowledge the people
who have helped and continue to help you get where you
want to go. Acknowledge the achievements of others.
Rule 10 - Remain calm, be careful.
Frenzy and recklessness are hardly the prescription for
long-term success in your business. In the face of
unexpected challenges, unexplained downturns in business
or failure to achieve the results expected, recognize that
these are just part of the thrust and parry of business life
and use a calm, methodical approach to the problem.
Don't just react blindly or chuck away all your hard work
and try something completely different unless a thorough,
calm and careful investigation convinces you that you are
Calmly analyze your situation and use your intelligence
to correct the situation. Sometimes a one degree turn of
the wheel is all that is required to get back on course, not
a completely new rudder.
Rule 11 - Have a vision, be demanding.
This rule goes hand in hand with rules 4 and 5. In order
to set goals and plan ways to achieve them you must
first set your vision. Think big, be brave. There is
nothing you can't achieve so make sure your efforts are
going to be for something truly worthwhile.
Rule 12 - Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
All of us have moments of self-doubt or even fear when
embarking on a journey to an unknown destination. If what
you have planned for yourself brings with it feelings of
anxiety, nervousness, even fear, pay attention to them but
don't take their counsel.
They are symptoms of grand thinking, of stretching beyond
the boundaries of your comfort zone. As the book says,
feel the fear and do it anyway.
Rule 13 - Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
This rule is closely related to rule 1. Believe that things
will work out, that they will look better in the morning, that
everything's going to be OK. Repeat the words to yourself
as a mantra if you must but instill a spirit of indomitable
optimism in your outlook and you will attract success into
Rule 14 - Sometimes being responsible means pissing
You can't please all of the people all of the time so don't
waste your time or energy even trying. You have a
responsibility to the ultimate success of your business and
to your own personal success. If that means you occasionally
have to say no to people to stay true to your objectives, do it.
If it means you have to alienate some people because they
don't personally agree with what you are doing, that's their
In other words, stay focused on your plan. If others don't like
it or agree with it, too bad.
Rule 15 - You never know what you can get away with
unless you try.
If you don't ask you don't get. And if you don't take you
don't get. Leave nothing on the table. If an opportunity comes
along, take it. It may not come again. And remember,
in chaos there is opportunity. While everyone else is running
around like chooks with their heads cut off, you just bring up
the rear and clean up on all the opportunities that are just
lying there for the taking among the chicken scratch.
Hindsight truly is 20/20, no doubt about it. Perhaps, like me,
you're thinking that if you'd known then what you know now,
you would have gone a lot further a lot faster. But as with any
form of progress, it's the journey, not the destination, that
provides the education and creates the experience and,
through it, wisdom. And that's something no book can teach
you and money can't buy.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
practical ideas, resources and strategies for your home-based
or online business. http://www.ahbbo.com