10 Rules for Simply Good Business


Telling entrepreneurs what it takes to do Simply Good Business seems rather pretentious, eh? Whether I actually have valuable knowledge to share is something I talk about with my husband a lot. He's my impostor syndrome sounding board. I know I only have to look at my revenue to realize I'm doing something right; conducting my business with integrity is one of my core business values, so checking in to make sure I deliver value to my clients is something I do on a regular basis. And what I've learned from running my own business and working with clients since 2011? Is what I call Simply Good Business. 


Start With Values

Staying true to your values is something you can always do. You can do it when you're having a good day or a bad day, when you're having a profitable month or when you're losing money, when you are feeling creative or when you're struggling with writer's block. If you choose values as the underlying foundation for your business, you will never struggle with a decision, because the choice is clear. {Actually making a decision is still tough, just because you know what you need to do, doesn't mean it's easy to do.} As I go through year 8 of being my own boss full-time, I can honestly say that making my values and kindness the mantra for my business has been the #1 reason for success.


Invest Time or Money {or both}

Put together a business plan, get clear on financing and income projections, have a plan to transition from side hustle to full time, know which taxes you have to pay and what applies when you sell online and internationally, know how local bylaws can affect your online business, have a crystal clear understanding of your target market,... The list goes on.


All the resources you need to find out everything you ever wanted to know {plus everything you didn't even know you need to know} are readily available. As my 65-year-old firearms instructor {who does not use "the internet"} said: google it. It's all there, and all free. Yes, it's time-consuming. Very time-consuming. Don't have the time? Then I hope you have money, because it's gotta be one or the other. It's like that for many things in business. Either you invest a bunch of your time, or a bunch of money.


The quality of the result you get is not necessarily better if you invest money rather than time. Both investments will only pay off if you put as much quality in, as you want to get out. Being {well} prepared can be a make-or-break factor for your business! "That's a neat idea, I would buy this!" is not a sound business plan. "Something will turn up!" might work for Charlie Harper, but don't count on it for your cash flow. "But I did not know that" is not an acceptable excuse when the CRA knocks on your door and asks for the $$ you owe them for selling your digital products in other provinces.



Sleep On It

I used to think that making tough decisions quickly is a trait of a seasoned entrepreneur. I don't think that anymore. Whether a proposal feels a bit off or super duper great - it's always better to sleep on it. No important {major} decision is so urgent that it can't wait until the next day. If you get an offer where you have to invest $$ and need to decide RIGHT AWAY? Say no. Call BS on that ridiculous pressure tactic. Give yourself the time to look at every opportunity from different angles, and with fresh eyes {and a fresh brain} the next morning. You will be surprised how something can turn from "I will lose my business if I don't buy this" into "this might not be the best option for my business" overnight.


Other People Spend Amazingly Little Time Thinking About You

"Other people spend amazingly little time thinking about you" is a quote from the book The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. And it's amazingly true. While your client/prospect/thing you screwed up is top of your mind and you can't understand why they're not getting back to you 2 hours after you sent a stellar email to them ~ let me tell you: they are probably out golfing/having coffee/blowing through a Netflix show, not wasting a single thought on you.


That doesn't mean you're not important, it just means that your concerns and desires are not a top factor in their lives. Think about it this way: do you always return every call/email right away? Let's say you want a new roof for your house and you get three different quotes. Do you respond to every quote right away and comment on what they sent you? I didn't think so.


The lesson here is two-fold: for one, don't take it personally if not everything you do gets you some form of validation in return. Owning a business is not like kindergarten where everyone gets a medal for participating. The other lesson? Figure out which people you want thinking about you, and build a {non-pushy, genuine} strategy around that. 


Start With The Best

Whether it's business or personal {which is often the same, for us entrepreneurs, amiright?} ~ it's common among business owners to hold back. Hold ourselves and our businesses back. Me? Guilty in the first degree.


I always suggest the best possible solution to my clients, but for my own business, I settled for the side dish, when I really needed to start with dessert {we all know that's the best part}. I don't like mediocre things, but that's exactly what I served my audience. 


Now? I'm starting with the best. The best possible resources I can create for business owners to do Simply Good Business, without wasting anyone's time. I want to create what matters, a clear path to take. Simple and Good.


Teach Everything You Know

Do you think it's better to keep all your knowledge to yourself? Are you afraid that if you share your ideas and thoughts with others, they will take those ideas and run? Be generous with your knowledge. Teach what you know and learn what you can. Nobody will interpret the information you give them the same way, and you will put your own unique spin on everything you learn. 


Yes, everyone can google everything. That's not what this is about. It's about trust and opinion. Your clients and fellow entrepreneurs who want to hear from you and talk to you value your opinion and they trust you. That's what makes your style of teaching unique.


I'm often surprised during conversations with clients and other entrepreneurs about the information they find valuable. Most of the time it's something that's a no-brainer and top of mind for me, but not something they deal with on a daily basis.


Do you ever think: "Doesn't everyone know that???" - and the answer is: no, they don't. And it's up to you to teach them.


Don't One-Up Your Competition, But Serve Your Clients In The Best Possible Way

In 2015, Oatmeal Crisp started an advertising campaign, asking men to "One Up Your Bowl". I literally rolled my eyes when I heard that for the first time {and every time since then}. According to an article I found about the campaign, "Oatmeal Crisp ... is targeting men by tapping into the age-old ritual of one-upmanship, described by the brand as “the lifeblood of being a man.” 


Apart from the fact that I don't think one-upmanship is gender-specific, I mainly rolled my eyes at the whole concept of it. Never mind that it fuels the fear of missing out and the need to constantly compete, I also think it’s just plain bad for business. {I don’t know how it worked out for Oatmeal Crisp, I think the concept is bad for your business, and for mine - because it has no room for kindness, and it disregards values.}


So, instead of one-upping your competition, make sure you're serving your client in the best possible way. Of course there still has to be competition in the world; I'm a firm believer that it helps us innovate, excel, and get shit done. But I'm also a firm believer that there is a time and place for it. We don't have to be "on" and ready to one-up someone else at all times. Nothing wrong with setting a goal and wanting to excel - but how about basing it on what your business is really good at, and what you customers need, instead of measuring it against someone else's achievements?


The next time you feel that itch to one-up your competition, do this instead:

  • Pause for a moment and acknowledge your feelings
  • Ask yourself why you feel that way
  • Find out what your client actually needs and which problem you can solve for them
  • Focus on that and be awesome for your client
  • Debrief and be aware what you learned from the situation

Value Your Time

When starting a business, most entrepreneurs have more time than money. Investing time is a great way to grow a business because it won't cost you anything, right? Wrong. Every minute you spend doing something means that you can't do something else. {<-- not a very elegant sentence, but you get the point}


That's why, even when it's "just your time", you have to decide whether it's a good investment or not. It doesn't matter whether it's actually billable hours - you have to make sure that you get the best possible return on your investment, whether it's knowledge, exposure, or connections.


Love What You Do And How You Do It

Many moons ago, when I still lived in Germany, I used to run a plumbing company. One of the plumbers was fantastic at his job and I offered him a position in the office. He accepted and was then responsible for several work groups. He would prepare the materials they needed for a job and make sure it was executed properly. 


After 6 months in the office, he came to me and handed me his resignation. I was shocked and asked him why he wanted to quit. He said he hated working in the office because he was not able to create. At the end of the workday, he could not see the results of what he'd done like he would when he still worked in the field, like installing a new bathtub or kitchen sink. Rather than accepting his resignation, I asked him if wanted to go back to plumbing, and he did.


Creating happens in different ways. I'm sure the German plumber could have found ways to create in his office job as well, but that's not what he wanted. And that's important! There's always more than one way to do something, but in the end, it has to be a way that fits you and your business. It has to be something you love doing if you want it to be sustainable in the long run.


It Goes On - And Is Not Nearly As Important As You Think

Have you ever felt like you've hit a dead end? And there's no other way? 


Sometimes situations become so complicated, that our entrepreneurial brains just shut down. Losing a client, the economy takes a nose dive, a competitor shines with stellar ideas you've been too afraid to implement... And you feel like it's all over {or at the very least, it will be soon}. 


Guess what? It's not over. It never is {unless you die, then it's over for you to some degree}. If one way does not work out, there is another one. If you're not the best fit for one client anymore, you will be for another one. If time has run out for a certain product, there will be another one.


The world keeps spinning, life goes on, business goes on. In some form or another. And a single decision does not nearly have the impact you might think it has. Stay true to your values and be kind. That's the bottom line for life and for business. It goes on.


Simply Good Business

This is what I know and what I live in my business every day. It's what my clients value and what works for their companies. Simple and Good.