There is a great similarity between the creative artist and the entrepreneur. Each must know their craft thoroughly or will drift into mediocrity or failure. Each must have infinite patience and infinite stamina. Both will be poor until accepted by the public. With success, both will have the most fulfilling lives of any profession. Here are some maxims that I have found useful.
1. Whenever conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t do something, that is very likely exactly what you should do.
2. Business is not about taking risks… it is about minimizing risks.
3. When you do take risks, do so from a position that allows you to survive if the risk fails. Never bet the company.
4. The small business can always beat the large business by being more flexible, knowing the market better and taking advantage of change sooner.
5. Starting a business and making it run well is an intellectual exercise of the most demanding kind.
6. A reputation for honesty takes years to gain, but can be lost instantly.
7. Never start a business you don’t understand and never assume you fully understand your business.
8. The search for excellence is not a suitable standard for business management. The search must be for perfection.
9. There is no part of business that is more important than any other part. Every facet of the business must function smoothly and efficiently. There must be no unnecessary parts.
10. As the business grows, so must the parts of the business. Revise. Improve and perfect all parts constantly.
11. Your morale will be your company’s morale. Be steadfast. Be good-humoured and demonstrate confidence.
12. People like challenges. Give them a difficult job and they will be happy.
13. Be generous to your employees and they will be generous to you.
14. The trouble with borrowed money is that you have to pay it back.
15. Don’t chase government grants when you should be chasing customers.
16. By far the best capital is the capital you accumulate from profits. The second best capital is sweat capital. Third is shareholder capital. The last is borrowed capital.
17. It is not capital that makes a business. It is a good product and customers who will buy that product.
18. Remember, there is an order of priorities in business. Customers first, employees second, the general good of your community third, lenders fourth. Shareholders come last.
With Apologies to George Bernard Shaw’s Maxims for Revolutionaries.