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Building and running a business is tough work. You’ve got looming deadlines, staffing needs, new business proposals, and financial management among other things. Thankfully, Monty Python can provide us with some insight into managing a successful business and how to have fun in the process.

1) Be Realistic

It’s important to dream big and energize your staff with ideas for the future, but at the end of the day, be smart by creating realistic goals, budgets and timelines. The quickest way to kill momentum and hurt your reputation is to set the bar too high out of the gate.

2) Seek Advice

Seek advice from people who are smarter than you. Look for business owners who’ve already tackled the same problems. Learn from their mistakes and their successes. Ask for advice often.

3) Be Bold

Entrepreneur = Risk Taker. If you’re starting or growing a business, you need to be bold and take risks (calculated ones). And don’t be afraid to try and fail. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” True failure is quitting when things don’t go as planned.

4) Maintain Good Health

When you’re working hard to build a business, often the first thing to get sidelined is your health. Make sure you exercise, get good sleep and eat well.  It’s amazing how these simple practices will energize your lifestyle, ignite your creativity, and give you a sense of peace as you manage the daily grind … oh, and there’s the whole living longer thing, too.

5) Listen, Listen, Listen

Good communication is essential to a successful business. And listening well is key to great customer service. Listen to your staff and to your clients. Demonstrate that you’ve listened and understood their feedback.

6) Heed the Little Things

It’s the small things that can come back to bite you if you’re not careful. Good organization is critical to running a business. The best advice I ever got was to make lists for all my daily/weekly/monthly tasks. That practice helped me to become better organized in other aspects of my business. Sloppiness and poor attention to detail is a quick path to losing business and destroying your reputation.

7) Know When to Run

Whether it’s a client, project, employee, or product — you need to listen to that small voice in your head that tells you to run away.  You know when you’ve stayed too long at the party.  Your employee keeps making costly mistakes. Your client is making your life a living hell. Don’t be afraid to consider your options and make the difficult decision to part ways … as quickly as possible.

8) Give Back

Build into your community, provide guidance to other entrepreneurs, donate your time and money to worthwhile organizations and causes. Make other people’s business part of your business.

9) Stand Out

We’re named Loudmark for a reason. Presentation matters. Excellent design is essential to standing out in the crowd. Your business cards, proposal deck, marketing materials and website are the face of your business and an easy way for potential customers to separate the wheat from the chaff. Make sure you’re the wheat.

10) Treat Staff Well

As a business leader, it can be easy to get lost in the management of your business and forget about those who help run it. Your staff is your greatest asset. Work hard to encourage and reward them, and their happiness will flow downstream to your client relationships.

11) Move Forward

Innovate. Explore. Build. Don’t let your business fall prey to stale routine.

12) Accept Responsibility

Mistakes happen. Own them. Make up for them. And don’t throw your employees under the bus, even if it’s their fault. Apologize and make things better.

13) Have fun!

Life is too short to take things too seriously. Leave room to goof off, take retreats, and explore your creativity. Find ways to have fun in the midst of the chaos.

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