2 rules to live by to succeed in any business

12 rules.

Or at least that’s what I’ve come up.

12 simple rules which, if applied will help you get promoted faster, achieve better results and help build a name for yourself.

They work just as well for entrepreneurs starting their own businesses as they do for people working their way up the corporate ladder.

Don’t let their simplicity fool you, they aren’t easy to master. And as they are simple, many people overlook their importance.

Think of these rules like the rules of Othello or chess; simple to learn, difficult to master.

These games can be learnt in 30 minutes or less, but to master them it takes years of practice. But isn’t that the way things often are in life; simple but difficult. It’s easy to talk to people, but to become a master communicator takes years.

We learn how to write by the age of 7 but how many of us can say we’re great writers?

So here are my 12 rules of business:

  1. Results are everything
  2. Rules are meant to be bent
  3. Take responsibility for your actions
  4. Expect others to misunderstand
  5. Expect others to lie
  6. Expect the unexpected
  7. Preparation is the second most important thing in business
  8. Punctuality counts
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  10. Don’t waste other people’s time
  11. Speed / Accurate / Simple
  12. Embrace new technology

Let’s dive a little deeper. First off, in business results count. It’s not high school where we can have make-up tests if we bomb one.

In business, mistakes have real value. Sometimes they can even cost you your job.

Which is why it pays to be prepared. Mistakes will happen, that is inevitable, but how we handle them will often set us apart from our competitors.

People respect, honesty which is why it pays to fess up to mistakes as soon as they happen.

Explain how you are going to remedy the situation and why this won’t happen again. Good clients and bosses can accept mistakes if they feel people are working hard to correct them.

Hiding mistakes, laying blame on other people and using excuses are guaranteed to land you in trouble sooner or later.

When it comes to rules, creative people learn how to bend them. The most successful people I have met, from CEOs all the way down the ranks, know how to get things they want without breaking any rules. An average person will simply state the rules and accept them as gospel, no exceptions. Remember, all customers, no matter how important they are, want to feel special.

And finding ways to accommodate their requests is a sure-fire way to win their trust and business.

On the list you’ll find that I included three things that always happen – misunderstandings, lies and the unexpected.

Misunderstandings happen every day. They happen at home. They happen at the office and they happen with clients. Sometimes it’s our choice of words that was the cause, sometimes it’s the lack of understanding by the listener, whatever the reason, they happen. The best way I’ve found to prevent them is clarifications.

After hearing the request, simply say something along the lines of, “Ok, so just let me see if I’ve got this straight, you want me to A first, then B and C, correct?”

You’ll either hear them say “Yes” or “No, I want you to…” and then they will repeat the instructions.

Believe me, this process works.

You’ll reduce 80% of your misunderstandings this way.

As for lies, people lie. Our bosses lie. Our friends lie. Our coworkers lie. And we lie.

People are often afraid of telling the truth for fear of being punished or for what other people will think of them.

People won’t often come out and tell you their desires or problems. Think like a psychologist, they ask probing questions to get to the heart of the matter. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about people by asking a few simple questions whether at home or in the office.

Punctuality is pretty cut and dry, but keep this in mind – If your work starts at 9, what time should you get to the office?

A common answer to this might be 8:50 or 8:55, but this goes against rule number 6.

A train delay, you forget your iPhone, your shoe breaks, the weather, traffic, who knows what?! Things happen each and every day and even the smallest of delays can make you late.

Simply put, don’t keep a client waiting. Their time is important to them. If the meeting’s for 10am, be there at 9:30 that way you have time to compose yourself.

Better safe than sorry.

When it comes to actual projects you are in charge of remember the three key elements – speed, accuracy and simple.

Finally, embrace new technology. If you can find devices or programs that help in any of the three elements I just mentioned then take the time to learn how to use them.

I can’t tell you how many people resist new programs and hardware because of any number of reasons, but as is often the case today; they can either keep up, or be shipped out.

So there you have it, my 12 rules for succeeding in business.

Like I said, simple.

Adrian Shepherd

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