Table of Contents
In the previous part, you’ve learned about the first four rules of business for 21st Century. Just to recap … The first rule was to always own your product. Second was to divide and dominate the market and avoiding competition. Third rule was to change the game to make sure you are entering it with an advantage or leverage on your side. Finally, the last rule was to move fast to stay ahead. Now, let the Devero Business School continue …
Read the first four rules in part 1.
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5. Hack the system
Whether it is in business or life, when you want to get somewhere, there are always two ways. First one is the regular and most visible one. This one is followed by majority of people. Sometimes it is the easy one, other times the tougher one. Your chance to succeed on this road is higher, less riskier, but it will take you much longer to achieve the final destination. The second road, on the other hand, is uncertain, covered with clouds, more dangerous and your chances to succeed are questionable.
The important thing is that the second road can get you anywhere much faster. Put bluntly, the second road is about hacking the system. It is about searching for smartcuts. Some people like to use shortcuts–idea that the shortest distance between point A and B is a straight line. Well, that might not be true. What you should do instead is think about smartcuts–the fastest path between point A and B might involve a few steps sideways.
Hacking the system through shortcuts can be good. However, some of them can get you in the prison or destroy your business. By talking about smartcuts, I am referring to lateral thinking. In simplest terms, lateral thinking is about approaching the problem sideways. Great business example can be SpaceX. The problem: space transport is god damn expensive. Linear solution: wait for better technology allowing you cheaper rocket manufacturing for example. Lateral solution: change the materials the rockets are made of.
In other words, when you face the problem, don’t look for the most obvious linear solution. Think about how you can tackle the problem from different side, perspective or change the conditions. Low sales? Get more customers (linear) … Or you can look for ways to raise your prices, offer current customers additional services or create a limited edition. For more information about smartcuts, lateral thinking and hacking the system you can read a book by Shane Snow Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.
6. Don’t show all of your cards
Aside from Chess and Scrabble, Poker is another great game I like and recommend everyone to give it a try. It will teach you a lot of important lessons about both, life and business. One lesson is that it does not matter what cards do you have, but how do you play with them. Meaning, even with a bad hand (cards of low value) you can win the game if you can convince other players that your hand is strong and they have no chance against it.
However, this is not the lesson I want you to learn about today. The lesson you should apply to your business (and life) immediately is to never show all of your cards. Most of situations will require you to show some of them, but make sure to have at least one ace up your sleeve. Whether it is a business negotiation or interview for PR, don’t tell everything. Keep something for yourself. Doing this, you will be never fully exposed to possible attack from your competitors. You will also be able to surprise everyone by bouncing back quickly.
By this, I don’t say you should not trust your business partners, spouse or friends. Trust is the most important part of every business and makes it more pleasure. Not showing all your cards is just a way to keep yourself covered in case something happen and things get bad. What’s more, if you have a bigger business with employees dependent on you, you cannot afford to put them in risk. Remember that those people are working hard for you.
7. Play by your rules
I have a question for you. Do you like to play by rules? Let me rephrase this question … Do you like to play by the rules set by others or do you play by your own rules? As a businessman, your answer should always be playing by your own rules. Reason is quite simple. The only way you can fully control your business is by “owning” the rules. Sure, you might be able to bend some external rules, but it can’t be compared with doing business and living your way and following your rules.
The same thing applies to your work as well. Meaning, you should never compromise the standards you set for yourself and what you do. It does not matter what the price is or how many people will you piss off. Never ever lower your standards or change your rules just because he or she is your friend or whatever. Once you do that, be sure someone will ask you for this “good deed” again. Soon it will become habit. Is your friend bleeding on the street asking you for money even though he still owes you? Well, that’s too bad … For him.
Put it bluntly, if you say something, stand for it. Otherwise, your word is worthless and you will have no chance to be respected. Don’t get me wrong. It is not about being cruel or a jackass, but about setting clear boundaries and sticking to them.
8. Go all-in
There is a great quote by Eric Thomas: ”When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.” Do you know what people like Captain Hernán Cortés John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk have in common? They all went all-in. People often ask, “how much risk should I take?” or, “how safe should I play?” The only answer for these kinds of questions is that when you want something you should go all-in.
This may sound too extreme and most people would advise you to rather avoid this approach. Don’t listen to them. One reason why all-in approach works is that when you have no other options, retreat or giving up is really not an option. Take Olympic athletes for example. Do you think they are playing for bronze or silver? No, they are playing for gold! They are all-in putting everything they have into that one moment. Playing it safe will get you only so far. If you want to start a business or make some switch, follow the example of Captain Hernán Cortés, and burn the ships!
9. Have a vision
What is one of the first things you do when planning a vacation? You will choose the location, right? You should do the same thing when planning to start a business as well. You should create a crystal clear vision, or an idea, of your business in the distant future. How distant? Well, if you don’t have cancer, at least ten to fifteen years ahead. Otherwise, three to five years will be OK. Don’t forget the “crystal clear” part. This is something great leaders have in common. They have clear vision where they want to get.
Do you remember J. F. K.? … Putting a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the 1960s. This is a great example of a clear vision. The location is pretty clear–the moon–and the there is also a deadline. Both of these factors are important in order to make it easier for people to follow your vision and create the business you wish to build. Also, clear vision will help you and your employees to go through moments of uncertainty.
10. Have a plan
Great, you have a vision for where do you want your business to see in the future. What’s next? Now you have to use that vision to set up a detailed plan. How detailed the plan should be is relative. However, the more details you will include, the easier it will be to follow. Let’s say you want to go on a trip. As your navigation tool, you can either use a globe or a GPS. What do you think will be faster, easier and better? GPS, without a doubt.
The same think with business. First, you can create a roadmap that will be full of blank or unclear spots left for coincidence. Following this map will be like navigating with globe. Your business will suck … Well, if you will be able to build it. On the other hand, you can put in your time and effort to create a business plan so descriptive, nothing will be left for a chance. Then, when you will face some problems or feel uncertain, this plan will provide you with solution and keep you on the track.
11. Think long-term
We all live only once, in the meantime, and so we should enjoy it. However, this should not automatically mean not thinking about the future. So, even though you or I have no clue about how much time do we have, one think is sure. When we die, there will be another generation using the tools and living in the World we created. It can be your kids and their own kids who will have to deal with consequences of our actions. This is what I mean when I talk about thinking in the long-term. Remember, it is not about you, me or next fifty years. It is about building your legacy that will last for centuries after you will be gone.
Closing thoughts on business rules for 21st century
That’s it. Here you have eleven rules that will help you start your business and keep it going in the best shape possible. The last advice I want to give you today is to not blindly follow someone else’s rules or advice (including teachers). I know, another paradox. However, you should always keep questioning everything you know, see, hear and learn. Nothing should be taken for granted. Remember, collect the data, analyze them, weight pros and cons, consider the consequences and decide for yourself.
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