This article originally appeared at American Express Open Forum
“Keep looking, and don’t settle.” These wise words were spoken by the late, great, modern technology entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, of Apple and Pixar fame. The quote has since been re-posted online in various capacities, and it’s one that offers a good piece of advice to new business owners eager to get their businesses off the ground. It’s a reminder that, just as in dating, looking and acting desperate isn’t going to get you anywhere.
And Jobs didn’t live or work desperately; he lived passionately. (Except perhaps, when an employee accidentally left the prototype for the iPhone 4 at a bar.) Here, we compiled five tips on how not to conduct your business self, based on Jobs’ five simple words.
1. When looking for a business partner, the right person is more important than the right now person
You don’t want to join forces with someone who is simply there and available over someone who meshes well with you and contributes to your work and vision. So don’t settle for just any old person—whether they’re a friend, family member or acquaintance. There’s too much at stake.
2. Avoid asking people to work for you for free. Instead, offer them a spot as an equal unpaid partner with a future stake in the company
Expecting people to work for free is a surefire way to breed resentment and could also lead to a business lacking in passion and sustainability. Where is the incentive for loyalty? If you don’t have the investor dollars, focus on finding people that would have an interest in a share of your business. Again, if you find the right person, collaborating will be easy and will help you get your passion project off the ground.
3. Try listening more and talking less
Less really is more. Reeling off your story and your motives shows a need to prove something. If someone wants to know about you and your product, they will ask you. Assaulting everyone with your sales pitch usually results in lost opportunities. People who are too proud and upfront about their accomplishments lack credibility and are often transparent in their desperation. Hold high standards, and focus on what is right for you and your business to achieve those standards. You will be rewarded with nice word-of-mouth promotion and sales.
4. Don’t give your product away
Not unless you have a plan and an allocated reason for investing your hard work in a giveaway. If you do give your product away, it should be part of a specific strategy that results in press and sales. Otherwise, get that 501(c)3 because all that donating will result in making you a not-for-profit.
5. Don’t waste your time on work you don’t believe in
It’s not an opportunity you can’t pass up if you don’t actually believe in the idea. In his famous Stanford commencement address in 2005, Jobs said: “Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow always know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
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