The 10 Commandments of Business Growth

Contributed by Mark Graham, the president of Right Sleeve Marketing, Inc.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve always been interested to know how Goldman Sachs grew from a mid-tier firm to a global powerhouse over the course of a few decades. I’ve been reading Charles Ellis’s “The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs,” a book that sheds a lot of light on growth management.

Admittedly, I have very little connection to the investment banking industry these days, nor do I endorse the shenanigans of modern-day Wall Street. However, what I have found interesting about this book are some of the timeless business principles that can be applied to almost any enterprise, regardless of industry or company size.This is not a commentary on Goldman Sachs per se, but rather a look at how one company within one industry was able to grow by applying some surprisingly simple principles:

  1. Don’t waste your time going after business you don’t really want.
  2. The boss usually decides— not the assistant treasurer. Do you know the boss?
  3. It is just as easy to get a first-rate piece of business as a second-rate one.
  4. You never learn anything when you’re talking.
  5. The client’s objective is more important than yours.
  6. The respect of one person is worth more than an acquaintance with 100 people.
  7. When there’s business to be done, get it!
  8. Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?
  9. There’s nothing worse than an unhappy client.
  10. If you get the business, it’s up to you to see that it’s well-handled.

As an entrepreneur, I reflect on these commandments all the time, and many of them make perfect sense, especially for an organization that wants to be outstanding. In my case, I have built my business by putting integrity first, even if it seems at times we sacrifice short-term profits. We have always held the belief that a client relationship is something to be nurtured so it can blossom into a profitable and enjoyable relationship with our firm. However, it is not easy to develop relationships like this if one is always out for the quick sell.

This is where I particularly take to heart values 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, as they focus on building enduring and long-lasting relationships. Many people in business waste a lot of time chasing opportunities that simply don’t make sense, and they act as a distraction to what really matters: establishing relationships. By focusing on the above principles, I am able to better create value within my business, establish strong affiliations and become a better, all-around entrepreneur.

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