6 Powerful business tips from William Arthur Ward (Not Ernest Hemingway as misquoted)

Most of the problems business owners find themselves in can be avoided, if they follow these 6 tips from Ernest Hemingway William Arthur Ward.

“Before you act, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.”

~ William Arthur Ward

Before you act, listen

It’s tempting for entrepreneurs to get an idea and then take action, without first listening or getting feedback. That initial burst of excitement and the motivation it brings, means it’s all too easy to set off full speed – then get caught in a speed trap! Starting any project of value without doing the research required results in wasted time, wasted money and total frustration.

Remember: Ready, Aim, Fire – not Ready, Fire, Aim.

Before you react, think

One of the best ways to guarantee you make bad decisions, is to react before you have taken time to think the situation through.

I spoke once with a small business owner, who lost her biggest client because she reacted to an email from her client before pausing to think. The email seemed to be attacking the quality of her work and as an artist, she was extremely hurt. She replied quickly with an angry email, which attacked her client’s taste. The client then replied the following day, to say they had closed their account. It turned out that the client’s email was intended to be humorous. The small business owner only realised she had made a huge mistake, after showing it to her partner who immediately spotted the joke. She lost 60% of her turnover by reacting without due thought.

Before you spend, earn

Earning before you spend takes a lot of discipline. We live in a society that promotes the idea of instant gratification. Just put your credit card details into the box and Amazon (or whoever) will deliver that (whatever) to your door the next day. If you can avoid credit, do. Make your money work for you, not the credit card or loan companies. No, it isn’t easy. However, it is possible.

Before you criticize, wait

Criticism can be painful, so it pays to wait before you criticise. Life is too short to spend it upsetting people. Think for a moment about what you hope to achieve by criticising that person.

Offering a critique when asked by someone who respects your opinion, is very different from picking holes in someone who didn’t ask for your opinion. If you have to be critical about someone or their work, at least provide some helpful answers. Then ask why you needed to be critical of them and what you truly hoped to achieve. Try and ask yourself that question before criticising them.

Before you pray, forgive

It’s hard to move on with your life, unless you are prepared to forgive. I was recently left with a bill for thousands of dollars, because someone failed to deliver on a commitment they made to me and then walked away, leaving me to literally pay the price. However, I made sure to forgive the person immediately. In fact, I wish them nothing but happiness. I have not forgotten what they did to me, because if I did I wouldn’t have been able to learn from it. However, it’s pointless to hold bitterness toward people. As Buddy Hackett said: ‘While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing’.

Look for the learning. Use it as a lesson. Don’t let it happen again. Move on.

Before you quit, try

In my experience, people tend to quit too soon. For example, there are millions of blogs out there, which were abandoned after the blogger wrote a couple of dozen posts. Before these blogs had the chance to become massively valuable assets, the blogger decided it wasn’t working and quit. Instead of starting with a commitment to write regularly for at least a year before quitting, they became disheartened and gave up. They set it up so that it was impossible for them to succeed, by quitting unreasonably early.

If you are going to try something, really try. Make a commitment based on realistic data – then stick to it. This will cause your success rate and your self belief to soar like a rocket!

The quote this post was based on, was originally attributed to Hemingway. The correct attribution has now been applied and I’d like to thank Peter, a reader who kindly pointed out the error.

Remember -- if you'd like some help with your business or a project, you can Pick My Brain for the answers and ideas you need. This service is [literally] guaranteed to help you. You can find out more here.

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