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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Ten Commandments for Business Failure

I just finished reading The Ten Commandments for Business Failure. It is a book recommended by Warren Buffett and written by Don Keough who is a former President of the Coca Cola company and currently a Berkshire Hathaway board member.

While most business books focus on what to do to be successful in business, Don's book focuses on what not to do. The book offers common sense packaged with straight talk and interesting stories.

Here are the ten commandments which guarantee business failure:

1. Quit Taking Risks
2. Be Inflexible
3. Isolate Yourself
4. Assume Infallibility
5. Play the Game Close to the Foul Line
6. Don't take time to Think
7. Put All Your Faith in Experts and Outside Consultants
8. Love Your Bureaucracy
9. Send Mixed Messages
10. Be Afraid of the Future

There is an eleventh one:

11. Lose Your passion for Work-for Life

I think these lessons are applicable to big and old companies and not to start-ups. A start-up by its nature does not have the problems Don highlights. Big corporations, on the other hand, face these challenges very often.

If you don't do any of the 11 things Don mentions then anything else you would do will have very very high chance of success.