The iron rules

Saturday, June 1, 2002

We've all heard of the golden rule: "do onto others, etc. etc."

Perhaps some of you have heard of the silver rule: "do onto yourself first, that which you would do for others." But perhaps the most important of them all is the iron rule: "never do for others, that which they should do for themselves, for surely you will weaken and destroy them." Consequently, here are some of the "iron rules" that I've encountered along the way, and bring to you herewith along with the thought that they will help you as much as they've assisted me. In this article, I'll present five of the ten ground rules and in a future article, I'll share with you the remaining five.

Iron Rule #1: Always plan your exit strategy whenever you plan for your business.

There's an entire body of knowledge that applies to this iron rule, but suffice it to say that by planning an exit strategy whether it's passing on your job or your business to another generation, retiring, selling out, or some other variation of putting an end game to what it is you're now doing, you have, by definition set a goal. And that is the single most important thing a manager can do.

Iron Rule #2: Always build your business as though it were the prototype of the world's most successful franchise.

Think about it: if you were to "franchise" your business to the outside world, what is it you would have in place? Systems, procedures, business plan, marketing plan, management succession, etc., all of the things that make for a successful business. I don't suggest you go into the franchise fieldit's a tough businessbut if you prepare your business as though it were going into that field, you will have a well run, well managed business.

Iron Rule #3: Remember that even the most succesful business is still a work in progress, and it's value is measured by the success of the journeynot the destination.

It's not always easy to allow each day to go by without a strong sense of accomplishment, and I don't suggest that you do, but judge yourself on a week to week, even month to month basis, and ask whether or not you're accomplishing your goals. If you are, by definition, you are successful.

Iron Rule #4: Succesful managers/entrepreneurs may not always have a formal education, but always continue the education process!

This rule is probably self-explanatory, but try this as a daily management discipline: spend 15 minutes reading a book on some aspect of effective management that will help you to grow your business. At the end of a year, you will have probably read enough books to fill a good size library and gained enough good ideas to better manage your business.

Iron Rule #5: An entrepreneur/manager who is not fighting a crisis is probably too insulated.

Get out on an installation and service call: ask your accountant to explain your monthly statement; go out on a sales call with one of your salespeople; meet with all of your people on a regular basis and ask "What's the single best opportunity we have facing us?" In this way, no one can ever accuse you of being too insulated.

Those are five iron rules to start you off on the thinking process. As a famous philosopher once said, "thinking is the highest function of which a human being is capable of," and perhaps we all need to do more of that. In the coming months, various of our Graybeards' advisors will share some of their ideas with you and help you to achieve greater skills as a manager.

Ron Davis is the co-founder of the Graybeards Advisory Group, which brings together about a dozen experts in the industry to provide consulting and speaking services to alarm companies.