First off I will say that I am no expert and what constitutes success is debatable at the best of times. In any event, I do feel that these things have helped me along the way and I have often shared them with new entrepreneurs or when I speak with school kids about entrepreneurship. None of these are my creations but they are things that I feel have made me a better person and better prepared for business.  In Part 1 of this blog I will share with you 5 of my favorite things to live by in business.

Try means NO!

I read this one a long time ago and it stuck with me and I often use it with my team after I ask them to get something done.  The next time someone says “I’ll try” to get something done for you, they just said “NO” to you.  If you think about it, how many times when someone says they will “try” to get something done does it just not get done.  In my opinion, more often then not. I find even with my kids I make them say “I will get that done” instead of “I’ll try”.  Try is non-committal whereas “I will” creates a commitment and by human nature we don’t like to break a commitment.

What gets measured gets done

Several years ago, Bulletproof was starting to hit some great growth numbers and I found it difficult to stay on track with some things.  At the time, I belonged to a local TEC (www.tec-canada.com) group. At one of our monthly meetings we had a presenter come in who talked about “what gets measured gets done” and the use of a Balanced Scorecard. What I learned at that session that day is something that has stuck with me and the company for years.  The concept is very simple and self-explanatory.  If you don’t measure what you are trying to accomplish, whether it’s in life or in business, then you have a much less chance of achieving it.  On the personal front, a pretty easy example of that is for those of us who might need to lose a few pounds (myself included). What’s the first thing we do when we want to lose weight? We step on a scale!  Yes, I know there are some of you out there who are ultra disciplined and its more about just feeling better, blah blah blah but the reality is you’re doing it to hit your weight goal and the only way to know if you are succeeding with it, is if you measure it. I hesitate to compare weight loss to business but I guess I just did.  We implemented a Balanced Scorecard at Bulletproof about 7 years ago and it was a lengthy process but its been well worth it.  We have a scorecard for each of our divisions and they all roll up to a corporate scorecard.  At the end of each month I can look at those scorecards and at a glance know what areas in each division need to be looked at and where we need to concentrate our efforts.  It’s basically my CEO dashboard for all divisions and the overall company.  The key to the success of these scorecards is that our bonus structure is tied to the scorecard so everyone in the company knows that to get their bonus around their division the scorecard must be successful.  To hit that scorecard, they must make sure that they hit the numbers within it and hence you create a culture where your managers work with their teams to ensure we are firing on all cylinders. One of the key outcomes of this whole process is that it takes the emotion out of bonuses.  You hit the scorecard then you get the bonus. If you miss it then you don’t and everyone knows going into the year that this is how it works.

 Surround yourself with great people

Those people who know me should know that I am no genius, far from it and in business there is no secret recipe for building a good company. One thing I do know is that you have zero chance of success if you don’t have fantastic people.  It’s impossible for a CEO to know everything and quite frankly if they do, they probably do 20 things with mediocrity instead of a couple with excellence.  I was very fortunate when we started Bulletproof to have Jeff Shaw and Andrew Jefferies with me because they both brought pieces to the puzzle that I just didn’t have. To this day, we would never be at the size we are today without their complete involvement and commitment.  The awesome thing is that it doesn’t stop with them. I could list any number of current Bulletproof folks who are no different.  The reality is that it’s impossible to be good at everything and that’s why you need great people.  We are blessed to have a very strong team.  When you have experts or as we call them “rock stars”, you have a foundation for success.

Lead by example

It’s the simplest rule I use and I live by it even today. Don’t expect someone else to do something you aren’t prepared to do yourself.  When you are willing and able to roll up your sleeves and get things done, you are showing your team that you are equals. At the end of the day a good leader can’t be stuck on titles and he or she better have humility because people don’t leave organizations because of the company, they leave organizations because of the people they work for or with.  People are everything so you better treat them with respect, honesty and compassion. I’ve told many people over the years, in the early days and even now, if something needs done I am absolutely willing to do it and I don’t care if its sweeping the floors or presenting to a large group. It all counts.

Know your numbers

I meet entrepreneurs all the the time who struggle with financials and what they mean to their business.  When I started out I will admit I was green under the ears on this front but I had several people who helped me through and the best thing that helped me was the school of hard knocks, better known as experience.  If you are a new entrepreneur and don’t have a lot of background in the financial side, I highly suggest you get some training or mentorship in this area.  Things like understanding a balance sheet, knowing the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement, knowing the difference between cashflow and revenue, or knowing what EBITDA is versus gross margin. Most of all, understanding what your true costs are in your business.  Every company has overhead in it to run the business and if you aren’t accounting for this in your costs then you probably aren’t costing your services or products correctly.   This may seem simple but often when I work with new entrepreneurs they struggle to see this piece of it.  To run a successful business, you need to understand your financials inside and out and you need to know them at a minimum monthly.

Well that’s a pretty good start and I have 5 more to share in Part 2 of this segment. I hope this has peaked some interest and helped in some way. Thanks for reading.