The Iron Rules of Business

We know the golden rule, and maybe the silver rule,
but perhaps the most important of them all is the Iron Rule!

The GRAYBEARDS ADVISORY BOARD PROGRAM provides real, live advisory board review, suggestions and critiquing for entrepreneurs in the alarm industry. The Graybeards consist of a group of knowledgeable, successful and experienced executives who want to pass on their knowledge and expertise to people who are attempting to grow their alarm business in a predictable way. This idea has caught on with such enthusiasm that the CSAA will be co-sponsoring a group of symposiums around the country to provide more insights into this program, as well as recruiting new members. However, that’s not what this article is all about. Rather, it is to help you understand why some of the Graybeards have gotten where they are, and some of the ground rules they’ve learned along the way. I call them IRON RULES.
Iron Rules of BusinessWe’ve all heard of the golden rule: “do unto others, etc. etc.” Perhaps some of you have heard of the silver rule: “Do unto yourself first, that which you would do for others.” But perhaps the most important of them all is the iron rule: “Never do for others that which they should do for themselves, for surely you will weaken and destroy them.” Consequently, here are some of the “Iiron Rules” that I’ve encountered along the way. I offer these along with the thought that they will help you as much as they’ve helped me. In this article I’ll present all ten of the ground rules that we talk about in our symposiums.
IRON RULE #1: Always plan your exit strategy whenever you plan for your business.
There’s an entire body of knowledge that applies to this Iron Rule, but suffice it to say that by planning an exit strategy — whether it’s passing on your job or your business to another generation, retiring, selling out, or some other variation of putting an end game to what it is you’re now doing — you have, by definition, set a goal. And that is the single most important thing a manager can do.
IRON RULE #2: Always build your business as though it were the prototype of the world’s most successful franchise.

Think about it: if you were to “franchise” your business to the outside world, what is it you would have in place? Systems, procedures, business plan, marketing plan, management succession, etc., all of the things that make for a successful business. I don’t suggest you go into the franchise field — it’s a tough business — but if you prepare your business as though it were going into that field, you will have a well run, well managed business.

IRON RULE #3: Remember that even the most successful business is still a work in progress, and its value is measured by the success of the journey — not the destination.
It’s not always easy to allow each day to go by without a strong sense of accomplishment, and I don’t suggest that you do, but judge yourself on a week to week, even month to month basis, and ask whether or not you’re accomplishing your goals. If you are, by definition, you are successful.
IRON RULE #4: Successful managers/entrepreneurs may not always have a formal education, but always continue the education process!
This rule is probably self-explanatory, but try this as a daily management discipline: spend 15 minutes reading a book on some aspect of effective management that will help you to grow your business. At the end of a year, you will have probably read enough books to fill a good size library and gained enough good ideas to better manage your business.
IRON RULE #5: An entrepreneur/manager who is not fighting a
crisis is probably too insulated.
Get out on an installation and service call: ask your accountant to
explain your monthly statement; go out on a sales call with one of your salespeople; meet with all of your people on a regular basis and ask “What’s the single best opportunity we have facing us?” In this way, no one can ever accuse you of being too insulated.
IRON RULE #6: Successful Managers/ Entrepreneurs dwell
not on their failures, but rather on their successes.

This is kind of the half-full/half empty attitude that we have. It is said positive thinkers see the glass as half-full. Conversely; negative thinkers see it as half empty. I’m not sure about whether this is accurate or not, but I do know that successful entrepreneurs and managers focus on the things that they do right, learn from their mistakes, and then move on to the next set of objectives. Yes, it’s easy to dwell on what went wrong. Sometimes, it’s even simpler to move into the gray area of feeling sorry for oneself for the mistakes that were made. Don’t fall into that trap! Move forward, and think about the things that you have done right — and you’ll continue to do more of them right, than wrong.
IRON RULE #7: He climbs highest who helps another up — as long as they are both still climbing.
Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time in the field of
speaking, and have met with and seen literally hundreds of “motivational” speakers. It always amazes me how many of them just “talk the talk” but never have been able to “walk the walk.” Yes, it’s important as an entrepreneur or a manager to mentor others, but I have found that the best way of mentoring is by example. Let subordinates around you keep up your pace rather than you slowing down to theirs. If you do, you both
IRON RULE #8: When you think something just can’t miss
— take a day just to see if it feels as good as it did the first day.
In other words, don’t jump the gun! Entrepreneurs are hip
shooters. They are quick with an answer. They tend to be proactive
rather than reactive. They tend to want to do something rather than
do nothing. And for the most part, all of that is okay. But when you are starting out on a new venture, a new path or a new way of doing things, stop for a little while, perhaps a day or two and see if it feels as good and as right as it did when you first thought of it. If it does, you probably have a homerun, if it doesn;t, well, maybe you’ve avoided a problem area.
IRON RULE #9: Sometimes you can stumble onto a good idea — successful managers/entrepreneurs always have their antenna out, always looking, always reading.
I would imagine that this is the single most important element that
separates the real winners in business (and in life) from those who just “want to be” winners. You never know when you’re going to stumble across a good idea. Consequently, exposure to where those ideas can come from is really the trigger mechanism for many people’s success. Reading books, great publications, newspapers and magazines, and anything else that can give you a leg up in your creative thinking process is a sure opportunity. Every time you read or see something that gives you an idea, write it down and pretty soon you will have a journal of great ideas — yours, and just for your own use.
IRON RULE #10: Successful managers and entrepreneurs always balance the physical, intellectual and emotional aspects of their lives.
They never let one get out of balance for very long. This really
says it all when it comes to physical, mental and spiritual health. You are the final arbiter of whether one is getting out of balance — and you answer to no one, but you. When the question is asked, answer it honestly, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get back into balance.
These Iron Rules are some of the things that I have learned that help make life more predictable, successful — and certainly goal-oriented. If you’d like a copy of these Iron Rules, printed on parchment and suited for framing, just send me an email and I’ll know you won out. No charge, just let me know how it works for you.
Yours for greater success,
Ron Davis