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Near the end of each year, I always create a “Year Review” document in which I list memories from the year, new people I’ve met, the progress I’ve made on my goals, business results, and the most important business lessons I’ve learned. Per my 2005 Year Review, here are the twenty most important business lessons I learned in 2005.

  1. Listen to that little voice in the back of your head. It’s usually alerting you to something that might come back to bite you if you don’t listen to it.
  2. Don’t let non-communication lead to the de-generation of a relationship.
  3. Full-on bias toward action is great. But only when you have little to lose. Once you have something to lose, you must balance having a bias toward action with analysis, due diligence, and care.
  4. Don’t avoid doing things just because they are hard or may cause conflict.
  5. Consistently look for bottlenecks and inefficiencies in communication flows and organizational behavior.
  6. Integrity is what matters at the end of the day. There will always eventually be an audit or a lawsuit that has to look into what you’re doing RIGHT NOW. So make sure at all times your actions are above board and in good faith.
  7. The business world can be harsh and often times there is someone in your life that you trust that you should not who will eventually try to screw you over.
  8. As CEO, if there is a layer of management between you and the person you need to speak to, speak to that person’s manager first to make sure it is okay to speak with him or her or just relay the message through that person’s manager.
  9. As CEO, try to avoid assigning work to people you do not directly manage to avoid priority conflicts. Rather, in all cases except emergencies give the task to that person’s manager to assign.
  10. Recognition and praise can be just as big of motivating factors for employees as salary and bonuses.
  11. Finding the right people when you need them is a significant challenge and can take longer than you would think.
  12. Always communicate openly, fully, and quickly with your customers during any negative events.
  13. Quality assurance is a critical part of the software development process. Don’t release a new version of your product until it has been thoroughly tested by both an in-house QA team and a subset of your customer base. Bugs that make it into a released version are much more costly both in lost sales and loss of brand goodwill than spending the money needed to fix them up front.
  14. Raising funding for a company usually will take longer than you expect.
  15. Make the call. It’s often better to call than email if you’re trying to get a project done quickly.
  16. It is better to prepare for the worst when things are going well rather than when they’re not.
  17. Sometimes you just have to let go. Get the right people, train them, and then trust them.
  18. Just because you have a detailed plan in your head doesn’t mean other members of your team know it. If you don’t consistently communicate your vision and plans, people may think you don’t have vision and have failed to plan.
  19. Be very nice to merchant account processing limit review officers and give them the information they need to review your limit well before you hit it.
  20. Building a business is truly like trying to push a big horizontal wooden wheel. It takes hundreds of small pushes to get it moving, and hundreds more to get it going quickly, but once you get it going quickly inertia starts to take over and your continued efforts have a greater and greater effect.

This Business article was written by Ryan P Allis on 12/17/2005

Ryan P. Allis, 21, is the author of Zero to One Million, a guide to
building a company to $1 million in sales, and the founder of Ryan is also the CEO of Broadwick Corp., a provider of
the permission-based email marketing software IntelliContact and CEO of Virante, Inc.,
a web marketing and search engine optimization firm. [learn more].