Harsh Business Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way

You can learn these precepts the way most people do — by getting them wrong and setting yourself back. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And the more quickly you pick them up, the more successful you can be.

Much of the knowledge we gain in business and in life we learn the hard way. But if you can learn the lessons before you make the mistakes, you can gain the advantage that much earlier — and free yourself from the struggle of getting it wrong.

Here are 18 useful business lessons you don’t have to learn the hard way:

1. Stand for something.

Stand for something, even if it means standing alone. Because often times the one who flies solo has the strongest wings.

2. The antidote to stagnation is innovation.

Learn to view innovation as opportunities for creativity.

3. People do business with people who make them feel special.

It’s an old chestnut, but it’s true: The only way to get people to care about you is to care about them first.

4. In order to get, you have to give.

If you want a lot, be ready to give just as much.

5. If you can’t put your heart into it, take yourself out of it.

The easy way never leads to success — it takes heart and hard work.

6. When passion and skill work together, the result is a masterpiece.

The big moments happen to those who want them deeply — and prepare for them. Balance is the key.

7. The bigger the goals, the more it requires.

Goals will remain dreams forever unless you roll up your sleeves and get started making them happen.

8. Clean your messes up or they will clean you out.

There may not be an easy way out, but there’s always some way out. And waiting for something to get better by itself almost never pays off.

9. Speak less and listen more.

Learning requires, at its core, a willingness to listen.

10. If you want something in your life you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to do things you’ve never done before.

The first step is deciding, down in your bones, what it is you want.

11. To double your net worth, double your self-worth.

You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be successful.

12. All mavericks are first ridiculed first and then revered.

Believe in yourself, even — especially — if others don’t. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacles or scorn.

13. True failure is not trying.

If you haven’t failed a lot, you probably aren’t going to win a lot. If you never take a risk, you’ll never fail, and you’ll never win.

14. The most dangerous place you can be is inside your safety zone.

You cannot find opportunities for success if you are stuck in a zone. Especially the safety zone.

15. You will never go wrong by doing what is right.

Just because it hasn’t worked out does not mean it won’t turn out right.

16. Business is built on relationships, and relationships are built on trust.

Earning and keeping that trust are pretty simple prospects: Don’t promise what you cannot deliver, and deliver everything you promise.

17. Just because your competitors are doing it doesn’t mean you have to do it too.

Success means creating something you can be proud of — not whatever is trendy this week.

18. Let your life matter and your business make a difference.

If your business is a good cause, if it contributes to good lives for people, it’s worth every risk to pursue.

You’ll have countless more opportunities to learn throughout your life — some the easy way, some difficult and even painful. Whatever comes your way, remember to always pay attention, be open to what you can learn from every situation, and carry that learning forward by acting on it and sharing it with others. Those are the elements of good business, and a great life.

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