It’s Time For a New Set of Rules for Entrepreneurs

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I’m pretty fed up with the current playbook for entrepreneurs.

Somehow we’ve gotten into this rut of a jacked up mindset that the key to success is to bulldoze people to get what we really want. We put profits over people. We make decisions that help us get where we want, at the increasing expense of those who got us here.

This is business as usual for us, entrepreneurs, and I’m tired of it. It’s such a waste of what I believe is a noble occupation and a higher calling.

We use the “It’s not personal, just business.” quote way too often as justification for it all. (Business is always personal, by the way.)

It’s a self-centered, self-focused, self-obsessed, supremely disastrous way of doing business.

And it’s time all of that stopped.

We need to burn the current playbook. We need a reorientation to what entrepreneurship should be about. (Hint: It’s about people and purpose plus profit … making meaning while making money).

We need to return to (or maybe start) the value-based entrepreneurship … one that puts people first, that’s about character, empathy, service and integrity and most of all, focusing on making the world a better place.

So I’ve been working on a new playbook and new set of rules for entrepreneurs that I’m rolling out for the first time here. My purpose, mission and aim is to change the way we think and act as entrepreneurs. That we have a set of principles, finally, to guide us, to be measured by and to help correct us when we’ve went AWOL from them.

And I think it starts with these principles:

  1. Do right
  2. Do good
  3. Care
  4. Be genuine and authentic
  5. Be open and honest
  6. Serve others

In full disclosure: I’ve broken all of these principles at some point in my career. I’m not perfect and not suggesting I am. Far, far, far from it. But I’ve sought to live out my life as an entrepreneur and leader by these simple values each and every day and they’ve served me well.

My first draft of the playbook is already 2,800 words. But I need your help and perspective and feedback to shape it. Who knows where it goes from here, but I want to at least take a bold first step to see change I believe needs to happen.

My request is for you to help me edit it and make it better. Highlight the sections you see that need refinement or editing and make a comment. Make sure you put your name so I can thank you once it’s finalized and released. I’m certain I’ve missed things. Key things. The last time I did this I got some amazing comments and edits that made the project so much better and impactful. I know if anything it’ll give me the opportunity to clarify what I’m actually trying to say.

You can read the really, really rough draft here now. (Keeping in mind it is an early draft of an unfinished project … so you’ll see plenty of loose ends, studs, exposed plumbing. You’ll also see it evolve throughout the process as I’m, even now, working on it.)

So I’m crowdsourcing the editorial process with you again … and I hope you’ll help me, help others, by establishing a new set of rules for entrepreneurs to live and operate and yes, be measured, evaluated and judged by.

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9 thoughts on “It’s Time For a New Set of Rules for Entrepreneurs”

  1. Cory

    Let’s not blame the current class of internet entrepreneurs, they didn’t know any better.

    I think it comes down to the sensationalism of startup life. Movies like Social Network and the big buy out’s of 11 man shops like Instagram. Dare I say, 4-hour work week?

    “So easy a cave man could do it …. and you can too in 5 easy payments of $97 a month. ”

    See, I grew up in a family business.

    60 years ago my grandfather sold tires door to door and then started one of the first Mazda dealerships in the US. From there, my Father and his brothers took over to run a local GM dealership.

    I was brought up on serving the customer, delivering a quality product and treating people right.

    You can imagine that business is somewhat similar to our friend, the spammy internet marketer.

    Hell, a car salesman still has a worse reputation than the bankers after 2008. 😉

    After we sold the GM franchise my Father and I started our WordPress shop.

    It would have been so easy to outsource stuff, hire off of oDesk and cobble together the cheapo site for huge margins.

    We didn’t do that.

    Treat the customer right, deliver quality and take care of them. Treat them like family.

    Sure, we didn’t sprint to insane growth with high margins, but we’re doing it right and word of mouth is key for us.

    I’m glad there’s allies like you out there fighting the good fight. Til next time!

    • Matt, I knew I liked you for a couple of reasons …. namely, I also grew up working in our family business … in my case, a Honda-Yamaha motorcycle dealership. 🙂

  2. Nice to see you taking this initiative, Cory. (The values you espouse are evident in iThemes, which is one reason I chose it as the theme foundry for my websites. The role of trust in business choices is illustrated by a video I created for banks: http://www.screencast.com/t/b9ag8WCria.)
    I spent about a year developing what I call the Checklist of Trustworthy Behavior:
    1. Is it our best work?
    2. Is it the truth?
    3. Is it fair to all concerned?
    4. Is it good manners?
    5. Is it what we promised?
    6. Is it legal?
    7. Have we exercised due care to avoid harm?
    If we can’t say yes to all 7, we don’t say, think, or do it.
    This list incorporates the 7 core business virtues and is a development of the 4-Way Test that Herbert Taylor created in 1930 to help turnaround an insolvent kitchen utensil company.
    I shared a video presentation on the checklist at http://startupnegotiator.com/resources/the-checklist-of-trustworthy-behavior/
    Mike Palmer

  3. Spending $200 on a domain, hosting and a theme does not make anyone an entrepreneur. Especially if all they’re doing is regurgitating the same stuff thats being regurgitated elsewhere on the internet. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much 99% of any niche you care to mention.

    If all you do is follow other peoples lead – you’re not an entrepreneur.

    If you have nothing fresh, innovative and unique to bring – you’re not an entrepreneur.

    If you’re not willing to take a risk on an opportunity you think others may have missed – you’re not an entrepreneur.

    If you don’t have unquenchable self-belief or aren’t willing to go against the status quo in order to make an innovative change – you’re not an entrepreneur.

    If you’re not willing to bet your house on what you believe – you’re not an entrepreneur.

    An entrepreneur is a leader, an innovator and a game changer. It’s not a job description and it’s not skill set, it’s who you are. You can’t buy into it and no amount of self-help books or courses will change the fact that 99.9% of us are not, nor ever will be, entrepreneurs.

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    I’m Dave, and I’m not an entrepreneur – despite what the online ‘experts’ say. 🙂

  4. Changing the values for good entrepreneurship is a necessity not only for the webdesign branche but through all businesses worldwide.

    The impact of greed has made some global disaster footprint. Entrepreneurs have an obligation to set new values for future businesses.

    I totally agree with your initiative and wish you all best with setting and sharing these new values into the world!

    From a Dutch entrepreneur.
    Jan

  5. “We use the ‘It’s not personal, just business.’ quote way too often as justification for it all. (Business is always personal, by the way.)”

    Well said, Cory – couldn’t agree more. Business is always personal and should be personal. Thanks for the great article.

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