May 8, 2012

My Simple Business Blueprint

After working in student affairs on the college campus and for two associations, I have owned my own businesses for the last 16 years.

For the first five years I was a co-founder and partner  (with Karyn Nishumura Sneath) of a leadership development practice called like minded people.  The past 11 years I have been flying solo as the president and CEO of Idea Architects.  And I have a confession to make.

I've never created a business plan.
I don't set annual goals or goals for any other timeframe.
I don't actively monitor current financial projections compared to the same time last year.
I don't spend any money on advertising.
I don't try to get a certain # of clients or hit certain revenue targets.

In other words, I don't do much of what many people would say is required in order to be successful in business.    But after 16 years, I'm OK with the approach Karyn and I initiated and that I've continued in my own work, a framework influenced by the many mentors and role models I've been fortunate to have in my professional career.

Do good work.
Price it fairly.
Be generous to others.
Keep learning.
If the contracting is painful, the work will be worse. Take a pass.
The best self-promotion is your work.
Don't discount price. Add more value.
Never violate core values.
Don't do work for mean people.
Contribute and help advance the profession.
Be grateful.

Your mileage might vary, particularly if you have a need to make a whole lot of money fast.  But if you want to be around for the long haul, you could do a lot worse than these principles.

P.S.  In June, I'll be sharing my plans that hopefully will keep me making meaningful contributions for the next several years on the topics of leadership, learning, and life.  

They include cutting back the number of engagements I do in 2013 and beyond to allow more time for reading, research, reflection and writing, as well as bundling various components of my work to make a greater difference.  I'll officially open 2013 scheduling at the same time.


Bob said...

You can't lose with a business blueprint like that, Jeffrey. Congratulations!

Dave C. said...

Jeffry -

Great stuff in your plan I mean blueprint. ; ) The only hiccup I had while processing the list is sometimes the folks in charge of contracts can make it painful, but then they disappear during the project and you end up working with some pretty wonderful people.

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

Dave: That's a really great point. Although I was referring more to the process than the person.

What I have found is that if getting to the work is a real pain (back and forth over legalese and the like) the work itself often mirrors that minutiae.

That said some projects (and some professionals) may require more significant contracting than what my work entails.