Lifestyle guru and media mogul Martha Stewart embraces inspiration where she finds it, emerging with sweet lemonade despite her share of sour lemons.
Stewart’s revelation for her 2005 book, The Martha Rules came while serving five months in a federal prison camp for lying to federal investigators about a stock sale.
“What became all too apparent during my confinement was how many, many women are not in control of their lives or what happens to them. They endure extraordinarily difficult situations, yet remain very strong, nonetheless, both physically and emotionally,” Stewart writes. Stewart was gratified to share ideas and consult with these women, who had big dreams and entrepreneurial passion.
The Martha Rules conveys the essence of Stewart’s talks with inmates and details the ten essentials for achieving success as you start, build or manage a business.
Rule #1 – Something You Love
Passions overflow and mingle for Stewart, whose life and business are “inextricably intertwined.” Search and experiment until you find your passion, then work will fulfill and empower you to create, build, devise, initiate, lead and serve.
Rule #2 – What’s the Big Idea?
Walk in your customers’ shoes and ask the right questions before jumping in to a Big Idea. Does she have use for your Big Idea in her life? Are better alternatives available? Is it simple to understand and deliver? Does it make sense where you live? Is it affordable, too big or too limited? Does it make the world better?
Rule #3 – Zoom In and Out
It takes a telescope, a wide-angle lens, a microscope and the ability to use each appropriately to succeed as a business owner. Clear vision, a good accountant and lawyer, a pragmatic look at risk, and a frugal culture are key.
Rule #4 – Share and Connect, Build and Manage
“Does caring for your customer come naturally to you? If making money is more important than your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty, then you may have not yet found the right business to build,” Stewart writes. Entrepreneurs profit by giving information away and by painting a happy, optimistic and long-term picture for their customers.
Rule #5 – Arrest the Eye, Tug the Heart, Convey the Unique
Promotional creativity without common sense is costly, but common sense alone is boring. Clever, unexpected and creative advertising paired with publicity that captures media interest puts products in your customers’ hands.
Rule #6 – Quality: Every Decision, Every Day
Escape today’s status quo of dispensable, inferior, and even useless products. Corporate cultures should embrace and produce quality at every level because that equates to happy customers.
Rule #7 –Talent, Energy, Integrity, Optimism and Generosity
Seek and hire only the best employees, who collaborate toward common goals and fully understand and respect your Big Idea. Take emotion out of hiring decisions, check references, introduce candidates to involved employees and hire what you need.
Rule #8 – Gather the Good, Abandon the Bad, Clear Your Mind, and Move On
Resist panic. Stay in control no matter the business challenge. “With common sense and determination, we can turn what looks like a disaster into a triumph,” Stewart writes. Detours are part of the journey, so prepare for “occasional dark nights and remain steadfast.” Good things often masquerade as trouble.
Rule #9 – Calculated Risks, Careless Chances
Long-shot chances, especially financial ones, tend to wake you out of sound sleep. So when opportunity presents itself, realize it’s not the last time it will knock. Take a deep breath, assess risk and step out with a well-calculated way to manage it.
Rule #10 – Make It Beautiful
Listen, learn, innovate and become an authority for your customers and remember to always “make it beautiful.”