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It has been a little over 7 years since I left employment to start my own business. There were a lot of trials and errors along the way. I’ve lost money and time starting something then having it shut down a few months, some a few weeks later. It just didn’t work out because I didn’t know what I wanted. Therefore, I’ve established 5 rules when it comes to my business.

Now, these rules are simply tools for decision making, not necessarily the right decisions. It helps me to focus and narrow down options that are aligned with these rules so I can decide. When it comes to businesses, if you don’t have the base to help you in decision making, you’re practically stuck. It could cost you more being indecisive than to make mistakes in your decision.

So, here are my 5 rules:

Be Useful

My business needs to be able to help people solve their problems. I want to be able to utilize my knowledge and skills to come up with creative solutions. It’s not necessary to be useful to everyone because you can’t please everyone anyway. It’s vital though to know what my target market needs and work towards providing those solutions to them.

Stay Simple

I used to over-think everything and it was exhausting. Now I just want my business to be as simple as possible. No complicated system or operational procedures to follow. People request for service, I provide them, get paid and follow up with them to see what else they need. That’s it.

When I’m no good at certain things, I hire people on project-basis to assist me. Strictly no full-time staff. Managing people is difficult. I’ve seen many bosses dealing with so many employees dramas apart from worrying about paying them when business is bad.

For products and services, I’d go for those that don’t require extensive training for my customers to be able to use. I don’t want to spend extra time giving tutorials and I’m sure they don’t want that either.

Be Flexible

Although I have service and store policy in place, I only use them as a guide. I’m running a small business. One policy defying decision won’t make a huge difference to my operations but it will definitely earn me a satisfied and happy customer. I don’t want to be so rigid about policy like big corporations although we could see that they are getting more lenient with their policies, opting instead to satisfy their customer needs.

Keep Track

This is something I hated doing but I’ve grown to love it so much. I keep track of money in and money out, measure the effectiveness of marketing activities as well as keeping track of what’s working and what’s not. Apart from the business administration and operations, I believe it’s also important to keep track of the industry trends. I want to keep learning what’s new in my industry.

Have Fun

Why start a business that’s not fun right? I want to be able to get up in the morning looking forward to working, not dread it. I would say no to any businesses that could potentially make me a lot of bucks but I don’t enjoy doing or am passionate about. Some might say that passion is over-rated and not many people have the luxury of doing what they love. Yes, it’s true. But I would say that if you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s temporary. You need to find a way and work towards doing what you’re passionate about eventually.

Those are my 5 rules that I use as a guideline in my business decision making. These rules essentially reflect the values that I have. I can even turn them into questions I can ask myself each time I need to make a decision.

  1. How is it useful for my customers?
  2. Is it simple to understand and execute?
  3. Can it be flexible for me to be changing certain things along the way?
  4. What should I keep track of? How do I track the results?
  5. Will I enjoy doing it in the next 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?

By turning the rules into questions format, I can narrow my focus to what matters. The answers to these questions will eventually lead me to my decision. I could potentially minimize the risk of making a wrong one.

Do you establish rules in your business? Or in your life?