Throughout more than a decade of experience as a photographer, an entrepreneur, a consultant and as a consumer of business and marketing content… a few basic ‘universal truths’ have slowly crystalized in my mind.
For years before I had named them, I was striving to achieve these principles.
Why? Because they are fundamental pillars of what I believe it is to be a good person, a good business owner, a good boss and a brilliant brand.
Calling these principles ‘secrets to small business success’ is not just a gimmick to get you to read this article… (although it doesn’t hurt – here you are!) but I genuinely believe these “secrets” are the five essential principles to not only survive, but thrive in your business.
They are “secrets” not because they’ve never been written about, discussed or address, no… quite the opposite is true. Anywhere you find a great book or speech about ‘succeeding in business’, you’ll find at least one of these principles lurking:
These principles are secrets because they are hidden in plain sight.
Because we already know them. Because we’re probably already keenly aware of their impact on our audiences, businesses and lives. But as we all know, what gets measured gets improved. The difference between knowing something, and actively implementing it, prioritizing it and measuring it is vast.
Consider these 5 Dogly Principals the commandments dictating the choices, investments and improvements you make in your business everyday. Follow them religiously and reap the rewards. Ignore them at your peril!
The 5 Dogly Principles:
I remember one rainy Seattle day, sitting in my car outside the bank, having a long chat with my dad on the phone. I don’t recall the exact reason for the conversation, but I remember feeling down, generally frustrated. He said something then, that has stuck with me ever since, that I try to implement when I am grump-a-saurus rex… and that is “to serve”. He said, “if you’re feeling angry, frustrated, unloved or like life isn’t fair – serve the person who is upsetting you. Serve anyone! You’ll feel better for it!”
The pure act of serving is it’s own reward. This may sound trite or cliché, but I can tell you from personal experience, having many many times heard my dad’s words in my head and begrudgingly obeyed them – that it is impossible to be upset when you choose to selflessly serve with no agenda.
Of course this applies in business as well. The added bonus, is that in addition to the personal fulfillment you get from giving… there are tangible benefits as well. Make generous giving a core element in your strategy: your company’s culture, your customer service policies and your marketing plan… and you WILL be rewarded financially. Giving equals receiving. It’s just an inescapable, universal truth.
Questions to ask to maintain Generosity:
Am I trying to keep score? What can I just give or let go of instead?
Who in my network can I connect who might benefit from knowing each other?
What does my client want and need that I can easily give?
What do I know that I can share generously?
What group or cause can I dedicate time / talent or resources to, just for the sake of it?
P.S. Just to be clear – I am also a huge advocate of BOUNDARIES – we are not talking about giving until you have nothing left (although if you’re working on sainthood, be my guest but that’s not a business) or charging so little for your products/services that you can’t eat – it’s about the extra you give on top. It’s about letting go of negative energy surrounding feeling ‘taken advantage of’ because you give freely at every chance. It is a recipe for happiness, I assure you!
In words, offerings & design… Less is always more.
Questions to ask to maintain Simplicity:
What (skus, ideas, options, obligations, costs) can I cut? (ask this all the time about everything!)
How could I say it with less words?
Where could I replace text with images, graphics or empty space?
How could I please the customer by giving them fewer choices?
What process or thing that I am ‘supposed to do’ could I eliminate & not compromise quality?
Where might this be confusing or need more explanation for the user? (then fix it so it’s OBVIOUS)
Do I really need to have a meeting about this, or can I delegate it or let the team handle it?
Be genuine. Be honest. Be humble. Less business / machine… more human / friend.
Questions to ask to maintain Authenticity:
Does this copy sound like it was created by a robot? (try reading it out loud and then ask…)
How would I say this if I were speaking to someone I liked, in real life?
Does this product or idea speak to the heart of what I / We do or is it a shiny distraction?
Do what you say you’re going to do. If you JUST do this, you’ll thrill the hell out of your clients and beat most of your competitors!
Questions to ask to maintain Consistency:
Is this ‘insert name of marketing thing’ distinctly & recognizably ‘insert your brand name here’
If I commit to ‘insert name of commitment’ – can I 100%, without fail, definitely deliver what I’ve promised?
If I were to not show up for the next two weeks, are there processes (or is there documentation) in place to ensure that the someone else could achieve the same or similar output as I do? Or, if I hire an assistant tomorrow, how will I explain what I do and how I do it to them?
Do & send out your best work. Own up to mistakes. Exceed expectations.
Questions to ask to maintain Quality:
Is the best possible product I can create / sell / send? What would it take to make it better?
When my client receives this – will they be thrilled & overjoyed or will they have questions?
Are there materials or shortcuts here that we wouldn’t want our customers to know about? How could we change them to be brag-worthy instead?
Does the quality of the product match the quality of our branding / marketing / sales copy?
You’ll be hearing a lot more about these core principles from me – but for now, take a moment to ask yourself the questions here, and take a look at small changes you can make to improve your adherence to the 5 Dogly Principles!
Want to keep these principles front-and-center?
Download our pretty little printable! Make it the backdrop of your computer, blow it up and stick it on your wall, print it, hey you can even laminate it if you want to – but most importantly, look for opportunities every day to PUT THEM INTO ACTION!