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Eight Business Quotes That Shaped Me As An Entrepreneur by@michael-brooks

Eight Business Quotes That Shaped Me As An Entrepreneur

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Michael Brooks Hacker Noon profile picture

Michael Brooks

An award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and author.

What's your favorite quote? That's a trivial question. What I have on my mind are what I like to call "zipped" quotes. When you unzip these "compressed books" of thoughts, you get enough material to analyze, learn from, and remember as long as you're an entrepreneur. Meaning, as long as you live.

These eight quotes shaped me as an entrepreneur. I'm sharing them with my fellow entrepreneurs and startup founders with a brief context, we may or may not agree about.

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Successful business is NOT based on DEMOCRACY but on MERITOCRACY!

I don’t treat my employees equally because that would be totally unfair. I’m interested in results and merit.

I need and reward hard-working corporate “soldiers.” I don’t have time for Divas and “individuals.” Those who think of themselves as precious individuals have all the time in the world to impress us all with their business ideas and entrepreneurship skills.

Do you want to work and make money OR debate and waste time?!

Make no mistake about it. You will find more democracy in meritocracy than liberalism in individualism!

This is your job. You want a clear conscience, go start a charity. But if you want your own island and your boss says you gotta go out there and take a beating, you go out there, take it and come back to work and say, 'do you need me to do it again. -- Ben Affleck as Ivan Block in “Runner Runner” (2013)
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You know what, Jeff Bezos is being overly nice.

I’d rather personally interview 500 freelancers and not recommend anyone than allow my clients to hire the wrong one to work on their projects on our platform.

Hiring the wrong person is just like taking a wrong turn. You lose the precious time to get back on the right business road.

Think twice because hiring twice can be very expensive and frustrating!

It’s also better to wait a bit longer for the right match - the most important thing to remember.

Never, never settle for choosing the “best” available candidate!

Oh, but my business is going to suffer if I’m going to wait too long for my employee/prince charming. Seriously? I’m just going to hire someone for the time being. It’s going to be a temporary solution.

This is exactly how business owners create permanent problems.

If you want to be the best, choose the best of the best, say ‘thank you for your time’ to the rest.

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That’s one of my main criteria while hiring new remote team members.

There’s nothing a good, hard-working worker with a good character can’t learn. I have all the time in the world to invest in my new employees learning new skills.

However, I can’t and won’t even try to fix someone’s character. That’s not my job. Furthermore, it’s pointless and futile.

Just to be clear about this one. I don’t hire new people whom I like but whom I believe my teams and clients would like.

Good character is a good starting point. Skills and experience can and will come later.

Here’s what I found about Peter Schutz:

“Porsche removed long-time CEO Ernst Fuhrmann and started looking for a replacement. Ferry Porsche personally invited Schutz to apply as one of 12 potential candidates for the position. Porsche told Schutz that the company was simply not working as a unit, and needed someone to bring the various divisions together.”

This “personal invitation” was the best confirmation that Porsche saw something special in Peter’s character. It turned out they were right:

“Peter Werner Schutz was the president and CEO of Porsche between 1981 and 1987, a time in which the company greatly expanded sales, primarily in the United States.”

“He was a motivational speaker” too. I dare to guess this great quote got mentioned many during his motivational speeches.

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Behind every great business quote, there’s a book that could be written about the entrepreneur who said it.

So, this one is no exception. You can agree with it or not, like it or not, but you have to respect the man behind it.

Welch was the youngest General Electric chairman and CEO. “Under Welch's leadership, GE increased market value from $12 billion in 1981 to $410 billion when he retired, making 600 acquisitions while shifting into emerging markets.” (Source: Wiki)

Talking about business visions we often take for granted, you should know that “Welch pioneered a policy of informality at the workplace, allowing all employees to have a small business experience at a large corporation. Welch worked to eradicate perceived inefficiency by trimming inventories and dismantling the bureaucracy that had almost led him to leave GE in the past.”

I sure hope that you didn’t miss the last part where Welch was willing to leave GE, the GE (for the record) in the past. Why? Because of his business vision. That’s why.

Here it is what it meant to “relentlessly drive it to completion:”

“Welch valued surprise and made unexpected visits to GE's plants and offices. Welch popularized so-called "rank and yank" policies used now by other corporate entities. Each year, Welch would fire the bottom 10% of his managers, regardless of absolute performance. He earned a reputation for brutal candor. He rewarded those in the top 20% with bonuses and employee stock options. He also broadened the stock options program at GE, extending availability from top executives to nearly one third of all employees. Welch is also known for abolishing the nine-layer management hierarchy and bringing a sense of informality to the company.”

He is considered to be one of “the greatest corporate leaders of the 20th century” for a reason.

Great business quotes are just the tips of the icebergs called entrepreneurs behind them. There’s always more to a business quote that meets the eye. So, do your research, read, and apply what you learned. Then, get ready to write and say some quotes of your own.

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Image credit: Pinterest user Patrick Munezero

This quote means that business is:

  • NOT a democracy!
  • NOT a debate club!
  • NOT a poetry society!

Again, it means that you should always look for an entrepreneur behind a business quote.

According to the NYT, Aristotle Onassis was one of “the world's largest privately-owned shipping fleet and was one of the world's richest men.” He also said:

I have no friends and no enemies - only competitors.

The business reality is that we can brainstorm ideas as long as we want and like, but at the end of the day, we need to think and act as one.

And yes, you have to make others see things the way you see them, for your business vision to work. You lead, you don’t follow.

Now, how “to make others see things as you see them,” without alienating your team and being perceived as a “dictator?” Well, that’s another question, and a very closely guarded business secret.

Here’s another of his timeless quotes worth remembering:

The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.

So, do you know how to make others see things as you see them?

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According to the Economist, Harold Sydney Geneen was the “emperor of acquisitions.”

As “the president and CEO of International Telephone and Telegraph Corp (ITT),” he was responsible for an amazing “series of approximately 350 acquisitions and mergers in 80 countries.” And, that’s not all. “He grew the company from a medium-sized business with $765 million sales in 1961 into an international conglomerate with $17 billion sales in 1970.”

The good old business school at its finest, period.

Now, you should always look for a man behind a famous quote. In Harold’s case, he was a son of immigrants who arrived in the USA at the end of WW1 (around 1918). He really had to work hard, and above all, learn a lot before becoming the CEO of ITT.

“Geneen worked his way through college by serving as a runner at the New York Stock Exchange, and earned a B.S. in accounting and finance from New York University in 1934. After graduation he went to work as a senior accountant at the prestigious firm of Lybrand, Ross Brothers, and Montgomery. Geneen spent eight years at Lybrand, and then served as the chief accountant at the American Can Company (1942–1946); controller for Bell and Howell Company in Chicago (1946–1950), and Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation in Pittsburgh (1950–1956); and executive vice president and director of Raytheon Manufacturing Company in Waltham, Massachusetts (1956–1959).”

Now, I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for this inspirational entrepreneur. However, I disagree with his thoughts about experience and cash.

I pay all of my employees more than fair. Let’s not kid ourselves. Money talks and everything else walks.

I’ve never said and I never will: Hey, welcome to my company, be grateful, you can learn a lot, and be patient, money will follow. No! I pay based on my employees’ previous experience that contributes to my company. Then, it’s entirely up to my employees if they want to gain additional experience, and get paid even more.

So, my word of advice is, take the cash first, and the experience will come later, and then, you will be able to demand and take even more cash.

My question is simple, based on what you just read, would you rather be my or Mr. Geneen’s employee?

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Robert Bosch put his money where his mouth was. The rest is the history of BOSCH that spans more than 135 years with more than 400,000 employees and millions of customers worldwide.

He understood that a successful business model is a two-way street. Lao Tzu said:

If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence.

I would add - the beginning of business intelligence.

I’m pretty much sure that Robert Bosch asked a lot from his employees while building the business empire that outlived him. That wouldn’t be possible, in the first place, if his employees weren’t motivated and stimulated properly.

Good wages are just one piece of Bosch’s business puzzle.

…he was one of the first industrialists in Germany to introduce the eight-hour work day, followed by other social benefits for his associates. (Source Wiki)

Robert Bosch had chosen his employees’ satisfaction over exploitation, and his business plans were rewarded accordingly. If you want to make your business bigger and stronger, you have to take care of each and every worker.

Good wages are a good initial investment that guarantees profit, stability, and success in the long run.

I dare to say that this business model has never been more relevant than it is now during the Great Resignation triggered by the pandemic. All businesses are going through tough times. Savings and cuts are necessary for business survival. However, fair wages under the circumstances that keep your employees motivated are the business line you have to hold no matter what. The reason is quite simple. You will spend more money looking for and hiring new talents trying to replace the ones you lost because you couldn’t or wouldn’t compensate adequately.

Think about it! Robert Bosch certainly did.

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This timeless quote is my constant reminder to keep an eye on my business competitors, and act accordingly.

If your competitor doesn’t grow, you lower your business guard. You become lazy and overconfident. You forget to grow and improve.

The next thing you know, you’re out of business, and your competitor has nothing to do with it.

Nothing benefits your business as the good old growing competition!

Your growing competitor is doing you a huge favor. Show some gratitude. Your competitor is pushing you to work harder and longer. You have to innovate, so you can outgrow your growing competitor.

With all due respect, you think you’re having a tough time with your competitor or competitors. What am I supposed to do?

You have all heard about the biggest and most popular platforms where you can hire freelancers, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. They haven’t grown during the pandemic, they exploded in size, literally. The whole world’s gone remote!

Am I in danger? Well, let me put it this way. By all the laws of nature and business, I should be an endangered species. But, here I am, and my platform goLance defies all odds and business gods.

Every competitor is merciless, which leaves you with nothing but one choice, and that’s to be restless!

Your competitor takes one step forward. You take two. Your competitor grows. You grow on steroids. Your competitor introduces new features and services. You revolutionize the industry.

Is your competitor’s growth an excuse for you to lose? Imagine the world without competitors? What a dull place that would be.

Remember: Business is slow, when your competitor doesn’t grow!

My Final Thought For The Hacker Noon Nation Remote!

The best business quotes would be the ones, you will write yourself one day during your entrepreneurship journey. If you agree, vote for me in the  BusinessEntrepreneur, and Entrepreneurship Noonies2021 Award categories!

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