34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs
They had developed a relationship with Richard and set up for us to hold a brainstorming session with Virgin’s charity foundation – VirginUnite. Branson has always been one of my business heroes from the way he lives his life to the fullest to his business success. I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to meet many of my mentors/heroes and most of them left me feeling uninspired. With Branson – it’s the opposite. I’m even more impressed and inspired.
I met Richard for a few moments at SpaceShip Two’s unveiling but this was exponentially different. Being with him and about a dozen other guests created a cool, intimate environment for real conversation and interaction. Here’s a quick pic of us at the first night’s dinner BBQ on the beach:
And here’s my view every morning on Necker:
I’ll be sharing some more pictures, videos, observations and insights shortly. (A little teaser – I’ll tell you about how I got kicked off Necker Island in the next post.)
Getting back to it, I was flying on the way home from Necker and I was so inspired with our time there that I started creating my rules for successful entrepreneurial endeavors. I thought it would be top 10 list but I kept writing and writing in my journal and it came to 34 tenets that I’m calling…
34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs
- It’s got to be a BIG idea that you, your team and your customers can “get” in seconds.
- Strive to create 10x – 100x in value for any price you charge. Your rewards are always proportionate to the value you provide.
- You must charge a premium price so you have a large margin to provide an extraordinary value & experience.
- Provide a ‘Reason Why’ customers should do business with you and pay you a premium.
- Get paid before you deliver your product or service. And when possible figure out how to create recurring revenue from transactions.
- You get to make the rules for your business. Don’t let industry norms dictate how you’ll work or who you’ll work with.
- Create your business around your life instead of settling for your life around your business.
- Consistently and constantly force yourself to focus on the ‘critically few’ proactive activities that produce exponential results. Don’t get caught up in minutia & bullshit.
- Seek to minimize start-up risk but have maximum upside potential.
- Get your idea out there as fast as possible even if it’s not quite ready by setting must-hit deadlines. Let the market tell you if you have a winner or not. If not – move on and fail forward fast! If it’s got potential – then you can make it better.
- Find partners and team members who are strong where you are weak and appreciate being paid on results.
- Your reputation always counts. Honor your obligations and agreements.
- Never, ever get paid based on hours worked.
- Leverage your marketing activities exponentially by using direct response methods and testing.
- Measure and track your marketing so you know what’s working and what’s not.
- Bootstrap. Having too much capital leads to incredible waste and doing things using conventional means.
- Your partners and employees actions are their true core – not what they tell you.
- Keep asking the right questions to come up with innovative solutions. “How?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “Who Else?” & “Why?” open up possibilities.
- You’ll never have a perfect business and you’ll never be totally “done”. Deal with it.
- Focus most of your time on your core strengths and less time working in areas you suck at.
- Make it easier for customers to buy by taking away the risk of the transaction by guaranteeing what you do in a meaningful way.
- Always have something else to sell (via upsell, cross-sell, follow-up offer, etc) whenever a transaction takes place. The hottest buyer in the world is one who just gave you money.
- Always go back to your existing customers with exceptional offers and reasons they should give you more money. It’s 5x less expensive to sell to happy customers than go find new ones.
- However the flip side is – fire your most annoying customers. They’ll be replaced with the right ones.
- The marketplace and competitors are always trying to beat you down to a commodity. Don’t let that happen.
- Develop and build your business’s personality that stands out. People want to buy from people.
- Create your own category so you can be first in the consumer’s mind.
- Go the opposite direction competitors are headed – you’ll stand out.
- Mastermind and collaborate with other smart entrepreneurs if they have futures that are even bigger than their present.
- Celebrate your victories. It’s too easy to simply move on to your next goal without acknowledging and appreciating the ‘win’.
- Make your business AND doing business with you FUN!
- Do the unexpected before and after anything goes wrong so customers are compelled to ‘share your story’.
- Get a life! Business and making money are important but your life is the sum total of your experiences. Go out and create experiences & adventures so you can come back renewed and inspired for your next big thing.
- Give back! Commit to taking a % of your company’s sales and make a difference. It this becomes a habit like brushing your teeth pretty soon the big checks with lots of zeros won’t be scary to write. If you think you can’t donate a percentage of your sales simply raise your price.
Side note on #34: Now after meeting and brainstorming with the team at VirginUnite – I’d strongly recommend them as a candidate because of the way they are creating entrepreneurial solutions to significant problems and a force for good. As entrepreneurs we know we can foster innovative solutions to business problems – this is the same force being tapped for the greater good. I’m really excited about some of their projects and what us, as entrepreneurs, can do together. You’ll be hearing more about this soon.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.
* Update 11/2/08 *
From the incredible feedback of people asking to translate the list, post to their site, send to their list, etc – I decided to turn the 34 rules into a full blown “real” book, expanding each rule into its own section with examples and more insights. Plus, I had best-selling author, Mike Litman, interview me to go even deeper into the 34 rules.