5 Rules for Business & Life

Jason Huval

There are five rules that I live by both for my business and personal life. I don’t think they cover every aspect of life, but they have served me very well over the past sixteen years. I came up with these after losing everything my family had in a failed catering and restaurant venture in 2005. Any time I have any major decision to make, I contemplate these rules before doing so. To quote an old friend, I call it “running the decision through the model”. I’m sure the analyst types can appreciate this statement. These rules are very important to me. If I were the leader of a religion, they would be our scripture.

Rule #1

Always Make Moral Decisions. Do Onto Others As You Would Have Them Do To You.

I didn’t say they were all original rules. And don’t come at me with the difference between ethics and morality either. If you need to keep a personal code of ethics to keep your decisions moral, you are doing it wrong. A young child knows right from wrong so you should be able to do the same without the use of a coding system. This rule comes naturally to me and I hope and believe it does for most people as well. I don’t like being treated unfairly, so I don’t treat other people that way.

People too often see greed as good and this can be especially true in business. Greed isn’t good for anyone despite what Gordon Gekko might have told you. I think that not being honest with people or trying to take advantage of them will only come back to bite you in some way down the road. Business Karma is real. I am not saying for you to roll over on a deal; just that you find a solution that works reasonably fairly for everyone and you will end up with more deals closed, keep more customers, vendors will be more favorable…

There are plenty of guru’s out there that will tell you to “think win-win”. While this cannot always happen, it’s an excellent approach to business. People will reciprocate your kindness and empathy most of the time. The world isn’t perfect, and there are plenty of terrible people out there. With that said, in my experience and for the most part, people are good and want to do the right thing.

Rule #2

Take Risks. Life Is Not About the End Result, It’s About the Journey You Take.

This step is the leap. This can come in many forms. However, the leap that all business owners must take is to give it a go without the security of a steady paycheck behind them. When you finally take the leap and start your own business, there will be many more decisions to make. Many of these will carry a great deal of risk with them. However, if you aren’t bold, if you don’t swallow that big lump in your throat, you will not move forward. This is one of the hardest rules to follow consistently, because you must continue to challenge yourself for you to move forward. As you grow in your business, you will get comfortable again just as you may have been with a job. Just keep in mind that nothing is forever. You will have to challenge yourself to continue to take risks.

Rule #3

Be Accountable. Your Actions Mean That It is Your Responsibility.

This rule pairs with taking risks nicely. When you make those tough decisions, you must be willing to accept the good with the bad. I can’t tell you how important it is to step up and own something when it is yours. This is not just taking credit for the good things, this is taking credit for failures as well. Don’t push blame onto someone or something else. When you screw up, own it. It is the only way you will grow and people will respect you for it.

We learn far more from our failures than from our successes.

Trying to “pass the buck” when we make a mistake doesn’t help us learn anything from the situation/incident other than how to try and get out of the way. When we own our actions we take control of future outcomes as well. One of the most common ways I hear people try to shift blame is for them to say something like, “it wasn’t my idea” or “I was just helping on Joe’s project, it’s not my fault”. You will need to wipe your mind of any thoughts about how to get out of things that go wrong. You can and should speak up immediately when you don’t like the way something is going. This will help to avoid failures. Many people are too afraid to speak up because they don’t want to fail or be wrong. Because it is so important I will state it again – we learn more from being wrong than from being right, so it’s okay to own our mistakes.

This rule has likely been one of the most important in my ongoing business operations. By following this rule, I run a good business. You may want to write this down or bookmark what I’m about to share with you. What follows is my “secret sauce” to running a good business and what I use in every company:

Here goes the big reveal… 

When my company or any of its employees make a mistake, we own it and make it right. Whether to the customer, client, vendor, it doesn’t matter.

I know… Your mind must be blown. This truly is my “secret sauce” to running a good business.

In one of our companies, I have a personal guarantee that goes out to each of our clients. I tell them that our staff is 100% human and we may make mistakes from time to time, but that they should know if a mistake does happen, I will do everything in my power to make it right.

You must own your actions, for better or for worse.

Rule #4

If It Doesn’t Feel Right, It Probably Isn’t. Go With Your Gut & Let Your instincts be Your Guide.

While this may sound like some Jedi dogma (I am a huge Star Wars nerd), it really just means to follow your intuitions.

You may have heard something like, “the first decision is usually the best one”. I am not advocating for you to just do the first thing you think of. You need to think things through, hopefully logically. However, sometimes we can find ourselves second-guessing our second guesses. This can lead us to indecision or even worse, analysis paralysis.

I am not going to rant about how bad indecision is for a person in this post, but just know that it can put you in a bad place. When you are stuck with tough choices, don’t defy logic to say “it was a gut decision” and then make a crappy choice to quickly move on. Use common sense, should you be blessed with some, but if the decision doesn’t sit right with you then it’s likely not the right one.

Rule #5

Do What You Love. If You Are Unhappy With Your Situation Don’t Change Yourself, Change Your Situation.

I need to add that these rules are in the order I have framed on my wall. They are not in any particular order of importance. This rule is my favorite. It has helped keep me on the path that I am on now. I came up with this rule for myself because I know that I don’t want to work with selfish people and/or evil bosses. I want to be excited about my work. I want to work in an environment where I can collaborate with coworkers to achieve a goal or work on a project and do great things. I don’t want to be told when to work or how to dress (I really like rocking flip-flops to work). I like to set my own schedule so I can be with my family. It helps that I am the boss, but I try and let me employees do the same. As long as someone can get the job done, they shouldn’t be forced to conform to this ‘corporate‘ idea of how a workplace is supposed to run.

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