Four Principles for Running a Business in Good Times or Bad


Leslie A. Yerkes and Charles Decker

Jossey-Bass, 2003, 154 pp. 



This is “management light,” a fictionalized account of a real business that has chosen to stay small, illustrating four key principles of running a business.


The principles are passion, people, personal, and product. 


Passion:  “Do you have passion for what you do?”  “Do other people feel or experience your passion through your work?”  (3)


People:  “What kind of people do you have working for you and with you?”  “What kind of person are you?”  (3)


Personal:  “Everybody wants to be a regular somewhere.  Are you treating your customers like your friends?  Do you know their names?  The names of their family members?”  (4)


Product:  “None of the other P’s can save a bad product.”  “Does your product represent who you are to the world?”  (4)


Work “is about what you’re doing being a natural extension of yourself and fulfilling a need you have.”  Seek employees who have passion and the right attitude. (23)


When you know the customers, their families, their interests, etc., they feel unfaithful if they buy somewhere else!  (25)


“What the companies who did all the ‘sizing’ in the last few decades didn’t count on was the direct connection between employee loyalty and customer loyalty. …the translation in loss of loyalty from their employees to their customers.  It turns out that customers are loyal when employees are loyal…”  “When employees are loyal, they act selflessly.  That is, they think about what’s good for the company first, not about what’s good for them.  When employees lose their loyalty, it’s hard for them to be selfless with the customers.” (40)


“When your customers are friends, you find yourself thinking about what they’d like and you treat them differently.”  (45)


“When there is a community to which customers belong, they are loyal to each other and to that community.” (47)


Attention to detail is the essence of professionalism.  (53)


“What seems to happen is that a company starts out with a good product and they become successful with it and then they start to focus on profits instead of the product and the service.” (55)


“When you listen to feedback the most important thing to do is hear those things you’ve done well and make plans to continue doing them.” (59)


“Bad product overrides good service.”  A poor product will drive away good customers.  And bad service can drive customers away from a good product.  (66)


“Be passionate about your quality, celebrate that quality in word and deed, and your people will be passionate about their work.  For employees the message is: Be proud about your work and what you produce and you will make your work environment more enjoyable.” (71)


“Often the secret to success in bad times is to do what you did when you created the good times to begin with.” (90)


“When people do what they love, they feel like what they do for a living isn’t really work—it’s fun.” (92)


“Passion is the fuel; employees are the engines.  When employees like what they’re doing, they become loyal.  Loyal employees produce better product and service.  Better product and service attract better customers.” (94)


“Create shared expectations with them and communicate your intentions to them.  So, at any moment, they know what you expect from them.”  “Honor all the individuals and value their contribution.”  (95)


“When you keep things fun…the relationship is enjoyable and profitable for both sides.” (97)


“If you don’t know clearly what you intend to accomplish, there’s simply no way to be effective.”  Success is when your results match your intentions.  (98)


Start with passion.  Hire good people.  Create good customers by making the buying experience personal.  Create and maintain a good product.  (99)