How to grow your business, scale your start-up, and be a leader in 2022

What does it take to build a successful business?

While some people try to game the system with outlandish scams, outrageous frauds, and outright theft, it’s usually only a matter of time before they get caught. Perhaps John Kennedy Toole was right when he wrote the following in Confederacy of Dunces (also available on Audible):

When Fortuna spins us downward, the wheel sometimes halts for a moment and we find ourselves in a good, small cycle within the larger bad cycle.

So, if you want to do things right, here are some of my favourite Seth Godin quotes from his 2021 blog posts, together with a recommended title from Blinkist.

There are no all-clarinet orchestras because the combination of instruments is precisely why orchestras work. ~ Voting for Fela 

Learn more: Personality Not Included

Too often, “customer service” has come to mean “answer the phone and give a refund.” But customer service begins long before something breaks. It’s about a commitment to the experience. Creating delight before it’s expected. Building empathy and insight into the interactions that people will choose to have with you. ~ Practical elegance 

Learn more: The Apology Impulse

If you want to run an organisation you’re proud of, choose your ownership as carefully as you choose your employees. ~ Public companies are too often out of alignment 

Learn more: Super Founders

Too often, before we even begin looking at skill, we’re judging people for other reasons. That’s wrong and it’s wasteful as well. ~ Three kinds of ‘fied’

Learn more: Wired to Care

The entropy of organisations means that difficult conversations and a positive ratchet of culture change are unlikely to occur on their own. ~ Bad Company 

Learn more: Fix This Next

The very nature of the factory and employment is completely up in the air. Instead of bragging about how many employees a company has, how big the office is, how many folks are in any given meeting, some leaders may start optimising for how few they need to get the work done. ~ Selling hours 

Learn more: 5 Levels of Leadership

Up close, face to face, in the specific, it’s difficult to dismiss the humanity of others. It’s only when we decide to industrialise the process, to do it all at once, to boil it down to numbers–that’s when we begin to disconnect. ~ Wholesale and retail 

Learn more: Love is the Killer App

Industrial scale seems to pay off. Until it doesn’t. And then it’s on us to change it, while there’s still time. ~ Industrial scale and brittleness 

Learn more: Do Scale

Often, we get stuck because we try to take our useful local magic and somehow make it for everyone. Perhaps we’ll need a different approach when it comes to serving more people. ~ Mouth to mouth resuscitation 

Learn more: Play Bigger

Betting on luck isn’t nearly as productive as simply establishing a platform where you can benefit from the occasional arrival of good fortune. ~ Lucky breaks 

Learn more: How Luck Happens

Failure is a way of discovering one more thing that customers didn’t want, and perhaps, learning a bit about what they might want. By iterating without tears or fears, organisations are able to discover things about their future customers. ~ Customer development 

Learn more: Why Startups Fail

Figuring out which games you aren’t going to play is a fine step on the road to figuring out your strategy. ~ “I don’t want to play” 

Learn more: Start With Why

If your customer service strategy consists of mollifying angry customers, you’ll always be behind. Life becomes a fire drill and work becomes an endless chore. ~ Mollified 

Learn more: Loving Your Business

If we can’t figure out how to understand and support a simple small business, it doesn’t make sense to spend our time decoding a complex large one. ~ Start with the easy tests 

Learn more: The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster

Over time, successful businesses figure out how to align their goals with the customers they serve. ~ Which problem are we solving? 

Learn more: How to Future

In a competitive marketplace, automating human performance is a shortcut to becoming a commodity. If you can automate it, so can your competitors. ~ Variability, industrialization and hating your job 

Learn more: Fight Back Now

If you wait until the market is telling you exactly what it wants, you’re almost certainly too late. On the other hand, if you can find the resources to stick it out through the trough of scepticism, you’ll be around to discover if your idea was any good or not. ~ Great ideas always sound like they’re far too soon 

Learn more: The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Change persists whether we asked for it or not. Wishing and insisting won’t get us back to a world that’s static. ~ Urgent cultural change 

Learn more: The Industries of the Future

Great customer service pays for itself. ~ Customer service is free 

Learn more: Branding Between the Ears

Sometimes we assume that our competitors are far smarter than we are, better informed and harder working. And sometimes we assume that they’re clueless, lazy and hapless. Neither is true. ~ The two mistakes around competition 

Learn more: Mavericks

Persistent quality problems are a systemic issue, and if you’re not working on your system, you’re not going to improve it. ~ Effort toward quality 

Learn more: Tools of Titans

We need to learn to see the strategy behind the tactics we’ve chosen. Because once we can settle on a strategy that works for us and the audience we care about, our tactics can change over time. ~ Who will criticise your dreams? 

Learn more: Great by Choice

It’s been demonstrated again and again that the most valuable customers are the loyal ones. While your promotional team is out there making noise to get you new customers, you’d be much better off turning your existing customers into repeat customers and ambassadors.~ Customer service is free 

Learn more: Confessions of an Advertising Man

If you’re asking someone to work for you, help you or advise you, it turns out that being specific about what success looks like is an obvious way to get better results. ~ Write a better spec

Learn more: Why We Work

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