It’s been 16 years since we created Promodo. If it were a human, by this age, Promodo could have applied for a driving licence, received a National Insurance number or even joined a trade union. As a Digital Marketing agency, by the age of 16 we weathered crises, acquired trust of partners all over the globe and gathered a team of 200+ helpful and professional people. What are the principles of a business? In this article, I share the 16 lessons or rather ethical principles in business, marketing and about people I formed during my 16 years of being an entrepreneur and Promodo CEO.
1. The cost of a company equals the number of brains per square meter. You can buy technology, software, and even invest in the latest modern office, but you won’t be able to buy your employees’ loyalty and a brand name. People are your company’s main value. People are your strength and weakness. The strength is that you can assemble a stellar team. The weakness is that any team member is free to leave you as soon as they lose the sense of being a part of your team.
2. At various stages of development and levels of maturity, a company requires different processes and people with different expertise and skills. People are either constantly evolving along with the system, or they are hindered. Sooner or later, you’ll have to face the choice: your business or the ones you love and make friends with. Sometimes, it’s even the founder who needs to step aside at some point.
3. The client is not a fool. Never try to trick your client. If you ever think of acting dishonestly towards your client, you better leave the market you are in. You can never go far without this ethical principle in business.
4. The moment comes when you realise that not everyone thinks the same way you do. It’s sometimes extremely tough to deal with. But after all, if there are two people thinking alike, one is probably the odd one out.
5. Entrepreneurship is the best thing that can ever happen to you. It is a bit of everything: communication, constant development and conflict. It’s the best way of self-expression and hopefully a victory. I was lucky in this regard.
6. Take action! In life, we most often regret not the failures, but missed opportunities. Time is the best way to test an idea. If the desire of a change does not leave you for a long period of time – act! This is how I started the business.
7. Cost and value of a product or service. Instead of thinking about the price you want consumers to pay for your product, think of the way to cure their pains and the global task you want to solve. If a nail hammered into the parquet floor removes an annoying squeak and restores a good night’s sleep to a luxurious home owner, it costs much more than the nail and five minutes work.
8. Hurry up to make mistakes is another business principle of mine. Once I asked an authoritative entrepreneur: “What can you teach me?” and found myself taken aback by his answer. “Alex, he said, I made a lot of mistakes”. Like many young entrepreneurs, we started the company in a rented flat. I remember the way my hands were shaking when I held the first $3,000 bill. I remember the times when it was just me to handle everything that concerns production, taxes, and fire safety. Such a stressful situation helped me gain a useful experience and put the business to the next level. You’d better hurry up and make mistakes. People who are afraid of doing something wrong are not made for business.
9. You cannot constantly avoid risks. If you never felt love, you will not be able to explain what it is to a child. The same about losing something – nobody will understand what it is unless they have felt it themselves. Be haste to make mistakes, analyse your failures and keep going forward. All the limitations are in your head.
10. All the victories are common while all the defeats are yours. Let me add a little to what Nietzsche said: “There are only two ways to save you from suffering: a quick death and lasting love for your work”.
11. Doing business with no profit is a crime. There is no “can’t” in entrepreneurship. Any decision is rather resources-related. This is one of the main principles of business marketing and finance.
12. Online marketing is not a spherical cow, but an asset of common sense. If you want to achieve success with it, stop looking for a silver bullet. Instead, look closely to the reasonable people who are able to think logically and never lose common sense. People who have successful businesses do like this.
13. Experiment. The exact answers exist nor in our constantly changing environment neither in the world of digital marketing. The only way out is to compare yourself with yourself, keep track of your competitors’ development dynamics, and constantly experiment. Only this way will you work out your unique path of successful business and project development.
14. The higher involvement business owners show, the better become the results they achieve with us. If you are trying to build your marketing somewhere aside, mind that you delegate the key function of your business to a third party, which may mean avoid taking responsibility. Such a business is doomed to fail in any competitive environment.
15. The best marketing dimension is numbers. There is no concept of “like” or “dislike”, there is only the “generates sales” measure.
Business principles and contexts
16. Set an example. I’ve always developed Promodo through external contexts like a family, a city, a country, the world. My goal is to develop these contexts through my entrepreneurial roles. One of my main ethical principles in business is trying myself to pose an example.