Good Relationships, Not Just Good Deals

black-white-handshake

You don’t need to be ruthless to be successful in business. Business is mainly about buying cheap and selling at a higher price. It’s hardly ruthless and essentially boils downs to a series of transparent and honest transactions.

Yet the idea that business is a cut-throat game persists. Good business is not just about brilliant deals, it’s about mutually beneficial relationships. Basically business only works if everyone makes their cut. Its about mutually beneficial deals. If I negotiated too hard with my contractors every time I need them to do something for me, they will never want to do business with me anymore and that will mean I will always have to get new contractors. Its better to pay a decent price for a decent service.

It costs far less to hold on to a customer than it does to find a new one.

Good relationships, not good deals, are at the heart of long-term business success.
Don’t get me wrong, the ability to cut a good deal is an essential tool of business, but be aware that sometimes you can cut too hard. In those circumstances, its not just your competitor who gets injured.

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Business Lessons From The Godfather

Godfather

The Godfather is chock full of great advice, and there’s lots to learn from the themes of this classic film. Check out some of the best business lessons from The Godfather, or otherwise you might be (metaphorically) sleeping with the fishes sooner than you thought.

1. Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse
Obviously. One of the best ways to get what you want in business is to tailor your product to your customer’s needs. And this works for managers, too. If you want to incentivize your employees, there’s often a way that you can make your request primarily beneficial to them and the company both.

2. Trust No One
Whether you’re a bona fide wise guy or not, it’s wise to watch who you trust. That’s not to say that you should be suspicious of everyone all the time, it’s that the only person whose decisions and actions that you can safely rely on are your own. Even being in business with people for years doesn’t mean that you can trust them, but you can trust them to be themselves. And whether you’re running the underground or just the office, that’s another key lesson to learn.

3. Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer
Well, maybe not your enemies. More like your competitors. It’s important to have a good idea the landscape of your market competition, both larger and smaller than you. And when there’s an industry-wide issue that could improve your field, do yourself a favor and be the one to lead the charge to unity. You’ll stand out among your competitors while also improving things for all involved when you’re the one to get a group to band together faster than you can say “five families.”

4. Patience is a Virtue
Don’t expect for things to blow up for you overnight — it takes time to build a mafia empire strong business. And this advice goes for both rookies and veterans: quality comes from patience, planning, and having a great product.

5. Always Have A Plan
When you’re running an international crime syndicate, you’ve simply got to have a plan. It’s not profitable to do things willy-nilly, with no discussion or lack of a business model. It’s probably best to avoid a business plan that involves gunning people down in the street, but appropriate foresight, planning, and action can lead to, ahem, legitimate business success.

6. Learn from Your Failures
Failure happens. Even to mafiosos. Let this fact lead you, and give yourself permission to fail. But also let yourself learn from your missteps, as it’s possible to turn any short-term failure into long-time success. If you lose some guys in a gun battle, or lose money from a dirty double cross, you know how crucial it can be to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, regroup, and move forward. Also, what kind of job did you say you had, again?

7. Loyalty Matters
One of the most important lessons to take from the Don is that loyalty is key. In this day and age, economic security is a spectre — but it’s paramount to remember never to bite the hand that feeds you. Whether you have a boss or have to deal with distributors, it’s always best to be loyal to your higher-ups and those who depend on you. It’s as simple as this: the better everyone does, the better everyone does.

8. Respect Must Be Earned
While loyalty is important, respect must be earned. Make sure that you’re commanding respect, and not just because of your great work product. If you act with dignity and put integrity first on your value list, you’ll see how easy it can be to build up mutual respect with co-workers, superiors, and those in other areas with whom you have to work. Additionally, take caution to respect: it’s easy to build up, takes time to cement, and can be gone forever in a flash.

9. Business Is Personal
Tom, don’t let anyone kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every thing man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell. And there you have it. Michael Corleone said it best, and it’s the honest truth: business is made up of people. People who care, people who create, people who perform, and everything in between. The great thing about a business is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but its parts are people — and those are pretty great, too.

Faster, Better and More

Olympics

The trifecta of competition:

Faster than the other guy. Faster to the market, faster to respond, faster to get the user up to speed.

Better than the other guy. Better productivity, better story, better impact.

and More. More for your money. More choices. More care. More guts.

You have more competition than you did yesterday. I expect that trend will continue.

Treat different customers differently

This is difficult if you also insist on treating every customer the same. Or treating every customer the best, which is a better way to describe a similar idea.

No, the only way you can treat different customers differently is if you understand that their values (and their value to you) vary. It’s easier than ever to discern and test these values, and you do everyone a service when you differentiate.

Where do ideas come from?

1. Ideas don’t come from watching television
2. Ideas sometimes come from listening to a lecture
3. Ideas often come while reading a book
4. Good ideas come from bad ideas, but only if there are enough of them
5. Ideas hate conference rooms, particularly conference rooms where there is a history of criticism, personal attacks or boredom
6. Ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide
7. Ideas often strive to meet expectations. If people expect them to appear, they do
8. Ideas fear experts, but they adore beginner’s mind. A little awareness is a good thing
9. Ideas come in spurts, until you get frightened. Willie Nelson wrote three of his biggest hits in one week
10. Ideas come from trouble
11. Ideas come from our ego, and they do their best when they’re generous and selfless
12. Ideas come from nature
13. Sometimes ideas come from fear (usually in movies) but often they come from confidence
14. Useful ideas come from being awake, alert enough to actually notice
15. Though sometimes ideas sneak in when we’re asleep and too numb to be afraid
16. Ideas come out of the corner of the eye, or in the shower, when we’re not trying
17. Mediocre ideas enjoy copying what happens to be working right this minute
18. Bigger ideas leapfrog the mediocre ones
19. Ideas don’t need a passport, and often cross borders (of all kinds) with impunity
20. An idea must come from somewhere, because if it merely stays where it is and doesn’t join us here, it’s hidden. And hidden ideas have no influence, no intersection with the market. They die, alone.

I spread your idea because…

Ideas spread when people choose to spread them. Here are some reasons why:

1….I spread your idea because it makes me feel generous.
2….because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.
3….because I care about the outcome and want you (the creator of the idea) to succeed.
4….because I have no choice. Every time I use your product, I spread the idea (Hotmail, iPad, a tattoo).
5….because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates).
6….because it’s funny and laughing alone is no fun.
7….because I’m lonely and sharing an idea solves that problem, at least for a while.
8….because I’m angry and I want to enlist others in my outrage (or in shutting you down).
9….because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).
10….because you asked me to, and it’s hard to say no to you.
11….because I can use the idea to introduce people to one another, and making a match is both fun in the short run and community-building.
12….because your service works better if all my friends use it (email, Facebook).
13….because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.
14….because your idea says something that I have trouble saying directly (AA, a blog post, a book).
15….because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.
16….because it’s fun to make another teen snicker about prurient stuff we’re not supposed to see.
17….because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to avoid an external threat.
18….because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to maintain internal order.
19….because it’s my job.
20….I spread your idea because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.