In entrepreneurship, there are two words we hesitate to use — always and never. But, while New Year’s Resolutions are still on people’s minds, we’re going to make an exception.
The 2013 Always and Never List for Entrepreneurs
ALWAYS operate with complete integrity. Follow the letter and intent of the law.
NEVER go back on your word. If you say you will do something, do it. If circumstances change and you can’t do what you committed to do, go back, explain the problem, and reset expectations.
ALWAYS be prepared to answer the question “What does your company do?” succinctly, accurately, and with a little flair.
NEVER squander company resources. Stretch your cash. Don’t travel when a video conference will do. Make laptops and servers last three years; don’t jump for the newest technology just because it’s there. Share office space. Create a culture of thrift.
ALWAYS remember that the people you hire depend on you and their jobs. Certainly they are passionate and want to help you build a fantastic company, but they also have to pay their bills and feed their families. As the company founder, you have a responsibility to shoot straight with them.
NEVER lose sight of the customers and markets you are trying to serve. Their problems are your problems. Their opportunities are your opportunities.
ALWAYS build a solid working relationship with your Board of Directors. They can provide the type of expertise, mentoring, contacts, and friendship that money can’t buy.
NEVER hesitate to fail quickly. The faster an entrepreneur finds out what doesn’t work, the faster he or she can discover what does.
ALWAYS remain coachable. Ask any investor how important this is—and listen to what they say. Investors invest in entrepreneurs who know how to listen and learn. Investors know how valuable coaching can be because many of them have been successful entrepreneurs themselves.
NEVER forget to say thanks—in person and after the fact. Follow up every meeting with a mentor or potential investor with a thank-you. It can be an email, a phone call, or even a hand-written note. Show gratitude for the help you’ve received by helping another entrepreneur.