What I Learned from My Business Mentors

February 08, 2010

Luckily for me I had four fantastic mentors when I was coming up through the ranks. Here are 50 bits of business wisdom they passed on to me.

1. It's common for small errors to cripple a business.

2. It's rare for a big idea to catapult a business.

3. Always be searching for the big idea anyway.

4. Suppliers are as important as customers.

5. Pay bills on time.

6. Give people your full attention.

7. Have benchmarks and really study them.

8. The most effective business people are well rounded.

9. Ask for the order.

10. Always be willing to walk away from a negotiation.

11. When you're good at something, exploit it to the max. Leave competitors in the dust.

12. Anything can be negotiated.

13. If someone wants to talk, listen.

14. Share your thought process. Talk about ideas while you're forming them.

15. Don't hire people with " skill sets".  Hire people who can think.

16. Pay close attention to details.

17. Talk to customers and prospects as an equal.

18. As an owner, never allow yourself to lose touch with customers.

19. Great sales people find opportunity anywhere.

20. Great sales people know when to walk away.

21. Great sales people are not easy to manage.

22. Ineffective sales people are usually their own worst enemy.

23. Don't rush decisions, especially about financial matters.

24. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

25. When people understand your vision, they will do everything in their power to achieve it.

26. When people do not understand your vision, they will achieve nothing.

27. Be quick to credit others for success and quick to accept responsibility for failure.

28. Seek credit worthy customers at all times.

29. Keep up with technology regardless of your age or position.

30. Read.

31. Show the spouses of key performers how much you appreciate their support.

32. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.

33. Be conservative in financial management and aggressive in sales and marketing.

34. Talk to key performers regularly.

35. Never gossip. Don't share company information unless you have a good reason.

36. Never lose touch with your key suppliers.

37. The biggest danger in a purchasing department is complacency.

38. The next biggest danger in a purchasing department is carelessness.

39. Any customer problem can be solved.

40. Be willing to be unpleasant or unreasonable if that's what it takes to solve a customer's problem.

41. Don't be afraid to go over the head of your regular customer or supplier contact if that's what it takes to solve a problem.

42. The most important time to encourage a sales person is after he or she has lost a big order.

43. A good boss always appreciates what you do, but always challenges you to do more.

44. Sales people cannot achieve spectacular results without being well organized and self-disciplined.

45. Never lose sight of the fact that customers and vendors have their own priorities.

46. Sometimes the best meeting agenda is no agenda. Sometimes people just need to blow off steam.

47. The two most important things a sales rep can do is return phone calls promptly and show up on time. Everything else is just gravy.

48. Write down or write off losses as quickly as you can. They just get more expensive with age.

49. The quality, cleanliness, and atmosphere of your facility is a direct reflection of how you conduct business.

50. Always be courteous in your business dealings. You never know how life will unfold.

This post is part of Robert Hruzek's latest What I Learned From ... group project.

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