There’s a popular saying that goes, “Rules are meant to be broken!” After all, isn’t that how one breaks out of the proverbial “box?” How could you possibly think outside the box if you’re constantly following all the rules that demand you stay in the box?
In the art classes I’ve taught, many times students would ask me about the “rules.” The “you should always” things. My response to that is that there are no rules. Not in art. What there are are techniques and skills. Once you learn how to use your materials then throw away the rules and let your creativity fly. Experimentation is all about the “what if” factor:
- what if I were to paint on glass instead of canvas? How would the paint react and what would be the effect of light?
- what if I were to position the images at the far right of the canvas, totally unbalancing it visually? Is this “allowed?”
- what if I were to put all the cool colors in the foreground and the warm colors in the background?
In art there are rules to be broken in order for creativity to blossom.
I seem like a maverick don’t I? Well, I’ll turn this around and now say that there are some rules for business that ought not to be broken. That there are contexts in which you truly do want to stay “in the box.” What might these rules be?
Rule #1: Show up every day.
- One of the beauties of having a home-based business, or being a solo-preneur is having the freedom to set your own hours and work when and where you want. That’s fine. It is one of the perks that I happen to love. Having said that, if you want your business to do more than just survive…if you want it to thrive…you have to show up every day. It might mean that you stay on top of your email. I’ve read about people who only read and answer emails once a week. That won’t work if you have set up a business that relies upon people being able to contact you and you them in a timely fashion. Personally I check my email frequently throughout my work day. It does not take me long to handle email…either I answer it, file it or dispose of it. If its something requiring more than a moment or two I will set it aside until an assigned part of my work day when I can devote time to it.
- Showing up might mean staying current with your blog posting or website updating.
- Showing up might mean staying current with your industry through reading and research.
- Showing up might mean staying current with networking – both social and socio-business.
Rule #2: Polish your products and services to a shine.
- My grandfather told me once that if his name is associated with something then he wants to make sure he can be proud of it. My grandfather was an artist and only signed and showed/sold his best work. Don’t have a “grade A” product and a “grade B” product. Either you are proud to offer your products and/or services or you’re not.
- Your customers and clients deserve to purchase the best you have to offer. A tiny business like mine cannot afford a “discount bin.”
Rule #3: Ignore your customers and clients to your peril.
- That might sound a little strong, but without profit your business will fail. We truly operate in a global marketplace now due to the internet. Today I joined a [new to me] businesswoman’s networking website that is international. The founder lives in Iceland. What this equates to is that competition for consumer dollars is fierce – never think for a moment that your product or service is so unique that there is no other that a potential customer could turn to. Give your customers and clients your attention.
- Give superb customer service and added value. And ask for the referral. And ask for feedback.
Break rules when doing so will spark creativity and leave room for “aha!” moments; but keep the rules that give your business cohesiveness and competitive edge.