The first thing I’ll say is that the above title is written with a heavy dose of irony and my tongue wedged firmly in my cheek. The truth is that I’m not a big fan of rules generally and even less for those that get in the way of sensible progress. Break them and create your own rules; then keep breaking them. Hey, that’s not a bad rule…

The title of this post was actually not written by me, it was written for me. A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a 3 hours entrepreneur’s forum which was to discuss the underlying principles for success that are shared by successful companies. There were 8 entrepreneurs present plus me. All were male and all were first time entrepreneurs. They were aged 26 to 33 and almost all had technology businesses.

As far as I was aware I was just one of the participants. However, after getting acquainted I sat down and glanced at the agenda. Far from being just another participant it seemed that I was actually the main event. I was scheduled to speak for an hour on “The Bull’s ten rules for successful business”. Nobody had told me. I was on in 20 minutes!

Smiling to myself I thought I’m in trouble here! I hadn’t prepared anything, had no notes or props and wasn’t sure where to begin. In the end, I decided to just tell my personal story as best as I could. Over the course of the hour I even managed to come up with 10 “rules” and I have reprinted these below, without any editing. They’re rough but not too bad considering the circumstances. I hope you enjoy them!

1. Solve real market problems – do it without fluff or ego and at the lowest possible cost.
2. Show real commitment to your business. Even when things go wrong stay passionate and focused. Keep moving forward and avoid becoming complacent.
3. If you can’t out-think the competition, then out-work them. Hard work overcomes a lot of barriers.
4. Make a commitment and then follow through – i.e. say what you mean and then do what you say
5. Get the foundations built right – processes, systems, reporting etc. and get the best people on board
6. Make sure your aspirations are supported by your capabilities –extend yourself but don’t over-reach
7. Sweat the small stuff – it might become the big stuff if left unattended.
8. Get your priorities right – i.e. it’s not about you; it’s about them (your staff and customers – in that order). Work hard to exceed their expectations every day. Show your appreciation regularly and you will be rewarded with their loyalty.
9. Encourage mavericks and innovators in your organisation – they’ll create value for you; yes-men, while easier to deal with, won’t.
10. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t be proud to tell your kids or parents about.

And whatever else, don’t take yourself too seriously. Fun in business is contagious.