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The Rules You Can Break

“Fortunately, We Don't Know Any of Them”

Which rules can you break? All of them.

Except possibly one, which is the rule that you have to, at some point, make a profit. Even in a nonprofit organization you still obviously have to make the numbers work. So that's the one rule you can't break. As for the rest of them, keep the ones that work for you and break the rest. Make up new ones. Your goal shouldn't be to run your business the way experts say you have to. Your goal should be to run your business in the way that works best.

There are three rules for running a business; fortunately,we don't know any of them.

—Paul Newman, Newman's Own

Visions and Missions Are Great—and Optional

But doesn't every business have to have vision and mission statements? Lots of them do, and it works well for them. But if it doesn't work for you, you can replace your vision and mission statements with, for example, a simple list of what matters most to you if that is more effective. You can go with one sentence or one word or three words. There are some who will read this and think it's a misprint. “Did he just say that we don't have to have a vision statement? Or a mission statement? Oh my word! What kind of crazy talk is that?”

I know companies that thrive, grow, and make money hand over fist and have never written the first word of a vision or mission statement. Vision and mission statements are perfectly good ways to organize your thoughts around what matters most, but ...

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