In business there are some unwritten rules. I call them business ethics. Not everyone has business ethics, so be careful. And be sure you do not lower your standards. Although the rules I will discuss here are not enforceable in court (for the most part), they will be extremely important for your continued success. People will respect you if you have character and proper ethics. Someone may get away with pulling a fast one on someone once, but not for long. Remember the saying, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.” Word gets around quickly in an industry, so if you want to be successful for the long haul, you need a good reputation for your business dealings. Here  is Part 2 of the rules I live by.

Do Your Homework

The most successful people do their homework. This goes for business, academia, medicine, or just about anything else. These are the people you want to do business with. They’ll know what’s going on and will have a shorter learning curve for what your deal is. These people will most likely know about your product or service, who you are, what other things you have done, and whether you are trustworthy. When you deal with someone who does his homework, you can get to the point and to a decision more quickly. Doing your homework takes time, study, and effort. Know all the aspects of what you are doing, from the smallest detail to the big picture. You need to know what things cost and where you can get the best deal. The profit potential is very important. Profits are made on a spread between the cost and the sale price, usually near the lower side. This is a universal truth. You must know what the spread is. Who is your customer? If you know who your customers are, specifically or demographically, you can focus your marketing and possibly increase your profit spread. Know what your customer wants and expects from you or your business. If you are armed with this knowledge, you can use it to expand your business to see what ancillary products or services the customer wants that you could provide, possibly adding another profit center to your business. When you’ve done your homework, you will know your customer and you will know your product or service inside and out. You will understand the deal you are negotiating and be able to explain it in a simple way. You can show how everyone can benefit from the deal.

Activity Does Not Equal Productivity

Being busy does not mean you are getting things done. There are people who punch in at nine in the morning and out at five in the evening, but don’t get anything done in between. They move here and there, type away on their computers, just plain look busy. The problem is that if you don’t organize your time well, you can waste a lot of it without getting anything accomplished. If you have goals and deadlines (real or self-imposed), you will become more productive. Try to catch yourself when you’re doing busy work instead of productive work. But don’t get me wrong, there are things that look like busy work that need to get done, too. Several years ago, a good friend shared the following theory: The task expands to the time allowed. This means that if you have a week to finish preparing a report of your company, it won’t be done until the week is over, even if it takes only one hour to complete. On the other hand, if you have a half-hour to finish a rush job that will be very lucrative, you will make it happen. Since my friend told me that, I’ve seen it happen and I’ve even caught myself doing it once in a while. Isn’t it funny how some people will take forever to get one thing done, while others get more done before breakfast than most people do all day? It’s important to keep yourself on a tight schedule, so you can get more things done. Get a planner with a to-do list and a calendar. Even better, if you feel comfortable with it, get a personal digital assistant (PDA). Your organizer will help you get things done on time and make sure you don’t miss any important items.

Don’t Focus on How Other People Are Doing

There are some people who know everything that everyone in the neighborhood is doing. These people usually have nothing else to do. If you spend your time looking at what someone else has or what someone else just bought, you will be miserable. You won’t be focusing on your own business. Someone else may have just bought an expensive new car or a big house or something else. We’re all human. We’ll say to ourselves, “I would like a new car or a new house.” But we can’t get caught up with that or we’ll lose focus on our goals. Besides, we don’t know whether that new car was bought on credit, which is now overextended. Looking at material things that others have will not get us anywhere. This book should show you how to get started and set your plan. Keep your plan in focus and don’t get discouraged because your friends or neighbors appear to be getting “ahead” or are “making more money” than you are. We need to remember that if we follow our own plan, we get to our goal. Continue to focus on your business and its productivity and you will succeed. Use others’ successes as reassurance that you can get there. Remember, if that guy can do it, so can you. Keep at it.

Think Big!

Whenever you do anything, think big. The project may not end up as big as you can think it, but if you don’t think big, it won’t get beyond the small idea you had. There is a saying, “Shoot for the stars; even if you miss you might land in a cloud.” This is very true. In whatever you do, if you think big, it is possible. The only limit to any business idea is the individual’s imagination and reality. We all know what I mean by imagination. It’s being able to think and dream the idea. Having it be part of your reality is taking it a step further. When you know something is possible, it is part of your reality. Just dreaming and imagining are not enough, but they are important. If just imagining were enough, we would all be rich. We have all imagined that we were rich, but not all of us achieve it. This is because many people haven’t accepted that being rich is possible for them. They think that it’s just for the lucky people, a group they don’t include themselves in. So, believe in yourself and your ideas. Make your reality as big as you can. Then you will think big and your big dreams and ideas will come true.

Always Give The Best Option First

How many times have you asked someone to give you your options regarding a choice you had to make? How many times have you had the person go through a long-winded explanation of the first choice, which was the worst way to go? After making you listen to all of this, he tells you the simple, easy, and best choice at the end. This last part is invariably presented in a brief, simple, and concise format. This process wastes so much of everyone’s time.  I think it comes from the saying, “save the best for last.” In the business world, time is money. If you can give someone the clearly preferable choice first and then tell him that there are other options that aren’t as beneficial, you will save yourself and him a lot of time and explanation. If someone wants to hear all of his choices, he has that option.  The above advice applies to a situation in which there is a clearly preferable choice. Sometimes there is more than one viable alternative. In those instances, you must present all of the choices. This allows your investors, bosses, and other interested parties to decide based on the most complete information available. I hope these guidelines will help you start your own business or buy your next property. And don’t be afraid to add to this list. When all is said and done, you have to live with yourself.

This article is an excerpt from my book, The Road Map to Rich: a Lawyer’s Perspective on Getting and Staying Rich. If you would like your own hard copy for free, please call us at 956-791-5422 and we will deliver to your preferred mail box or click here to contact us.

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