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