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Break Some Rules to Succeed


Nine unconventional ways to be better at business.

Want to become wildly successful? In today's uber-competitve, hyper-changing career marketplace, if you only do what's expected, you'll only have an okay career.

To truly succeed, you must be ballsy. You must break some of the rules.You must sneak down untrodden paths. You must slip into the career elevator while others slowly climb those career ladder rungs.

As an author, I've faced the difficulty of convincing a publishing house to invest in one of my books in a world that's already full of them. Yet, I've sold 30 books (at the time of this writing). Indeed, I sold 25 books in five years! How? I know the right times to bend (with the times) -- and I also know the right time to break (those silly rules!).

Basically, it's your choice. You can go on working as you are, getting the same old job results, making the same old money, having the same old complaints. Or you can start breaking some rules, start breaking out of the box, start breaking something, dammit.

As my Grandma Eva used to say: "If you go on doing the same things, you'll keep on getting the same results."

I say you make 2010 your year to become a Golden Touch Rule Breaker! With this in mind, here are some empowering tips:

1. If everyone's zigging, you zigzag.
The Banana Republic failed at first to compete with Gap (GPS) because it was 100% imitating Gap. It was zigging alongside another zigger. Then, finally, Banana Republic came up with the idea to zag -- to purposefully become differerent than Gap -- by differentiating itself as a more classy version -- and soon it out-profited Gap.

2. To change your business in a big way, simply change one small detail.

To get more backpackers to talk about the London Esplanade, it decided to attract a lot of pretty girls, hoping the boys would soon follow. It set up special girl amenities like pamper packs -- moisturizers, facial masks, nail kits, great hair products, and other girly stuff -- then emphasized how the girls' sleeping area was super safe and private.

The result: girls checked-in in droves. Soon the boys followed -- including local boys hoping to find some foreign girl lovin'. In other words, the place became packed simply because of some adding some hair products and face cream.

3. To grow your business, slash your target audience.
Paddi Lund, a Brisbane dentist, shocked the dental world by firing half his client base, thereby doubling his profits and working half the time. You see, dentists have the second-highest suicide rate of any profession. And Paddi realized he was going to work depressed as hell.

So he asked himself: What do I hate about my business? The answer: most of his clients, the sterile environment... the whole drill, fill, and bill process. So he wrote to all the clients he couldn't stand and told them to find another dentist. He then re-designed his office, putting in an oven and a cappucino machine.

Next, he told folks the only way you could become his client was if someone referred you. Indeed, the referral bit became an essential condition. Before he would work on you he'd say, "I'm going to give you the best dental treatment, and in return I have one condition: You have to refer at least three people to my business."

Paddi realized that getting great customers to refer their friends would simply generate more great customers because people have friends that tend to be like themselves -- good payers and warm people. He then offered clients no pain and a relaxed, beautiful environment, so it was win/win/drill/fill.

4.You're nobody until somebody hates you.
French Connection's big business break came from making a major risk-taking move. It boldly changed its name to the irreverent, controversial FCUK (French Connection UK). Did it risk some people being offended? Yup. Did it also become stupendously more successful in the process? You betcha.

5. "Free" is the most powerful word in a marketer's vocabulary.

"Cheap" or "inexpensive" may generate a wave of interest, but "free" will do it much faster. Hence the success tale of Hotmail (MSFT). Be ballsy. Give your product away. Let them drink your Kool-Aid. If you're really good, they'll be back for more -- and more!

6. Ask yourself: If you weren't afraid of falling, what would you do?
As Barry Diller once said: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

7. Do something when people say it's crazy. If people say something is "good", it means someone else is already doing it.

As Hajime Mitari, president of Canon (CAJ), says: "There's a difference between a 'popular' idea and a 'great' idea."

8. If you can't change your product, change your distribution. If you can't change either, simply slap on a new label.

Enough said.

9. There's a difference between being a risk taker and being stupid.
You should never be a rebel without a clue.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

© Karen Salmansohn

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