Swimming against the tide; I Too Broke These 6 Business Rules

Swimming against the tide; I Too Broke These 6 Business Rules

By Jill Mendoza: In pondering IDO’s, 20th Anniversary which just happens to be this month, February 14, 2012, I am reminded of a recent article I read in Inc. Magazine by a fellow small business owner, René Shimada Siegel, the title; “I broke these 6 business rules.  Why you should, too.”   Rene speaks of 6 rules she broke in running her business.  I must confess, I too have broken all six. The first: 1.  Never Work With Friends and Family.  The first person I hired was a friend I met at church back in 1995.  Julie Knight.  Julie remains one of IDO’s most talented, loyal and valuable associates today.  Julie and I connected immediately one spring morning as we talked about our careers, kids and family after attending Mass at St. Mark Catholic Church on Indy’s south side.  The fact is, Julie has not been the only friend and/or family to play an important role in IDO’s business over the years.  More importantly, I think of all our IDO associates the same way I think of all my close friends and family.  All trusted individuals who have my utmost respect and gratitude for their service. 2. Get an MBA.  As Rene notes; Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg,  are perfect reminders that having an advanced business degree is not required for successful entrepreneurship.  I recently saw a quote from Steve Jobs, that said, “Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people (who) are no smarter than you—and you can change it, you can influence it…And once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” 3. Sales is the Key to Success. I too have been the primary rainmaker for years and I really, really suck at sales.  But, I have hired folks who collectively cultivate relations with clients every day.  They understand that our clients don’t like being sold to anymore than we like selling.  As Rene put it, our clients’: “really just want someone who will share a cup of coffee and understand their pain, then come up with a solution that doesn’t require even more work. That’s all. “ So well put, don’t you think? 4. You’ve Gotta Get a Plan.  Yes, for years, our team didn’t have any formal business plan either.   We have, in most recent years, prepared comprehensive annual plans but what gets the most use is the one page summary with an annual revenue target and theme agreed upon by the entire team, followed by one or two major initiatives the team agrees to tackle each quarter. 5. Diversify Your Client Base.  This is the one rule that has haunted us for years.  Surprisingly enough, as we enter our 20th year of business, we are finally making progress on this one!  But for years, as Rene notes; “when an industry giant is your largest client and managers tell colleagues in other departments about you, who’s to complain? Word-of-mouth marketing is always a gift. Sure, we’ve worked with many other large clients, and plenty of small clients too, but our largest client is the one that keeps us in business. We work hard to earn their business again every day.”  I could not have stated it better; it is so true for IDO. 6. Never Work for Free.  Well…..we break this one daily! After twenty years, when I look back on what has been most exciting, it has definitely been our company’s ability to create and discover what works best for us.  And, when you are a little fish in the big open market, swimming against the tide just comes natural.

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