© 2000-2003 Elena Fawkner
Someone sent me an email the other day. Supposedly General Colin
Powell's Rules for Success. Now, I don't know whether they really
are or not, but as I read them, I thought they really should be
called "15 Rules For Success In Your Home Business". So, here they
Rule 1 - It ain't as bad as you think, it will look better in
If there's one experience universal to ALL home-business owners,
particularly those running a business on the internet, it's the
occasional feeling that you're just spinning your wheels, and not
getting anywhere. The number of people who give up on their
businesses just as they approach the brink of success is staggering.
So hang in there and remind yourself, when things look bleak, that
tomorrow is another day, things really aren't as bad as they seem
and things really WILL look better in the morning.
Rule 2 - Get mad, then get over it
OK, I concede this is more general advice than home-business
advice but it applies in your home business just as it does anywhere
else. Resentment and unexpressed anger really don't hurt anyone but
the person feeling resentful and angry. Have you ever noticed how
completely unproductive you are when burdened by resentment and
anger? So feel it, express it (constructively) and then move on. As
the man said, "get over it".
Rule 3 - Avoid having your ego so close to your position that
when your position falls your ego goes with it
Over the course of my career I have, from time to time, met
people whose identity and sense of self-worth is so enmeshed in what
they do for a living that they literally don't have an identity
outside of their work. Because they rely on an external source for
their self-esteem and confidence, they find it necessary to
continually and relentlessly bolster their personal positions, often
at the expense of others, often resorting to political maneuvering
in the workplace to maintain and improve their supposed 'status'.
These people are the 'empire builders' you sometimes find in
organizations. They jealously guard their power base all the while
gathering unto themselves more and more responsibility, beyond the
point of being able to do everything they take on.
Because their identity and sense of self-worth depends upon their
position within their organization, what happens when their position
disappears, such as in a corporate downsizing? It freefalls.
Don't let this happen to you. Remember that you are something
separate and distinct from your business. Sure, you can be proud and
pleased with your accomplishments but don't define yourself through
them. Your self-worth is something that comes from inside your human
self, not your business.
Ironically, keeping a professional detachment is more likely to
secure the ultimate success of your business. Detachment brings
perspective, objectivity and clarity, which helps you make better
Rule 4 - It can be done
Don't allow self-imposed limitations to restrict what you can and
will do. You can do anything if you set your mind to it. Well, of
course, it must be something that is within your power - you can't
just set your mind on growing a third arm, for example.
But for anything that is within human power and capability, the
saying "where there's a will is a way" is so true.
Get into the discipline of planning your life and where you want
it to go. By setting goals and planning the steps that will help you
reach them, you can achieve literally anything your heart desires.
Rule 5 - Be careful what you choose, you may get it
Following on from this, it should go without saying that what you
set for your goals is something you truly want because if you do
practice the discipline of goal setting you will surely get it.
Rule 6 - Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good
Keep your eye on the prize and don't be distracted by what's
happening on the sidelines. Sure, you may not have entered the
marathon had you known there were going to be 1,000 other runners
but does that mean entering the marathon was a bad idea? No.
Make your decisions based on quality information and what's in
the best interests of your business. If someone else comes along who
represents competition for your business, don't be put off your
game. Just run your own race. There's ALWAYS a way to distinguish
yourself from your competition.
Rule 7 - You can't make someone else's choices. You shouldn't
let someone else make yours
IGNORE your mother when she tells you you're crazy for chucking
in your nice SAFE secure little job to start your own business.
Follow your dream, no-one else's.
Rule 8 - Check small things
Like the fine print in contracts. Like the URL in that sales
letter you've just put the finishing touches on. Like your spelling
and punctuation. In other words, pay attention to detail.
Rule 9 - Share credit
You've heard the saying, "no man is an island". No woman is
either. Remember and acknowledge the people who have helped and
continue to help you get where you want to go. Acknowledge the
achievements of others.
Rule 10 - Remain calm, be careful
Frenzy and recklessness are hardly the prescription for long-term
success in your business. In the face of unexpected challenges,
unexplained downturns in business or failure to achieve the results
expected, recognize that these are just part of the thrust and parry
of business life and use a calm, methodical approach to the problem.
Don't just react blindly or chuck away all your hard work and try
something completely different unless a thorough, calm and careful
investigation convinces you that you are completely off-beam.
Calmly analyze your situation and use your intelligence to
correct the situation. Sometimes a one degree turn of the wheel is
all that is required to get back on course, not a completely new
Rule 11 - Have a vision, be demanding
This rule goes hand in hand with rules 4 and 5. In order to set
goals and plan ways to achieve them you must first set your vision.
Think big, be brave. There is nothing you can't achieve so make sure
your efforts are going to be for something truly worthwhile.
Rule 12 - Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers
All of us have moments of self-doubt or even fear when embarking
on a journey to an unknown destination. If what you have planned for
yourself brings with it feelings of anxiety, nervousness, even fear,
pay attention to them but don't take their counsel.
They are symptoms of grand thinking, of stretching beyond the
boundaries of your comfort zone. As the book says, feel the fear and
do it anyway.
Rule 13 - Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier
This rule is closely related to rule 1. Believe that things will
work out, that they will look better in the morning, that
everything's going to be OK. Repeat the words to yourself as a
mantra if you must but instill a spirit of indomitable optimism in
your outlook and you will attract success into your life.
Rule 14 - Sometimes being responsible means pissing people
You can't please all of the people all of the time so don't waste
your time or energy even trying. You have a responsibility to the
ultimate success of your business and to your own personal success.
If that means you occasionally have to say no to people to stay true
to your objectives, do it. If it means you have to alienate some
people because they don't personally agree with what you are doing,
that's their problem.
In other words, stay focused on your plan. If others don't like
it or agree with it, too bad.
Rule 15 - You never know what you can get away with unless you
If you don't ask you don't get. And if you don't take you don't
get. Leave nothing on the table. If an opportunity comes along, take
it. It may not come again. And remember, in chaos there is
opportunity. While everyone else is running around like chooks with
their heads cut off, you just bring up the rear and clean up on all
the opportunities that are just lying there for the taking among the
Hindsight truly is 20/20, no doubt about it. Perhaps, like me,
you're thinking that if you'd known then what you know now, you
would have gone a lot further a lot faster. But as with any form of
progress, it's the journey, not the destination, that provides the
education and creates the experience and, through it, wisdom. And
that's something no book can teach you and money can't buy.
Elena Fawkner is editor
of A Home-Based
Business Online ... practical ideas, resources and
strategies for your home-based or online business. http://www.ahbbo.com