The reading level for this article is All Levels
Learn Jack Welch’s business theories. My iPad has downloaded many miserable books by Ivy League professors who opened software companies in 1997 and sold them for a million dollars.
Over the past two years I’ve read upwards of fifty business books. Of those, perhaps two were Welch books, and a third was an outline of those other two. I have yet to find a single other business book that attains the standards of the Welch books – or even the book about the Welch books.
Some people don’t like Welch’s writing, and to some extent his theory. His candid nature and his harsh outlook on firing, etc., can be off-putting at a personal level. Personally, after my beloved friend and mentor Harvey Cohen passed of pancreatic cancer two years ago, Welch was the only author I could find who helped me continue to build on the professional framework I’d learned from Harvey Cohen.
Books like Rich Dad Poor Dad are entertaining, but they scratch the surface. Jack Welch, by contrast, risked his books not being best-sellers because of his refusal to flinch in tone.
Learn negotiation and become skilled at it. Having knowledge of and therefore some upper hand in negotiation will ultimately save you millions. If you can determine when a client is bluffing about a discount that you’ve already priced in your initial fee, versus when they are serious about needing a reduced rate, you will be ten steps ahead of the game.
The best way to learn negotiation is to learn your clients. What makes them tick, what angers them, why are they asking for a discount anyway? Once you answer these questions, you can move beyond the generic concept of a “win-win” and progress to the more complex – and accurate – assumption that, “We’re in this project together: I make money, you get my services.”
Do your best not to work with foreign clients. You might fret at the idea of curtailing your client base. But make sure you also take the time to fret about being up at 4:00 a.m. threatening people in Europe because their U.S. division is plagued by turnovers and owes you five or six figures.
That’s only the beginning of what I’ve had to deal with. Until you have the money, time, expertise and patience to deal with attorneys, keep your business in the U.S. Late payments or other fraught and possibly litigious situations are difficult enough to deal with in the first place. They are only compounded in terms of time, stress and money when the “check is in the mail” from Sao Paulo.
Don’t work with friends. Business is not a frat party. I have read entrepreneurship writers who own ghost companies and write about the positives of tossing around business ideas with your buddies.
Tossing around business ideas does not buy your kids’ college funds; it buys blog space with minor text ads. Stay away from doing business with friends; even family is at least less apt to try to run with your money.
Going the entrepreneurship road alone can be lonesome. But as tempting as it may be to strike out alongside a friend, you are better served by thinking long-term and keeping your friendships separate from your business prospects.