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12 Lessons For Business & Life

Updated: Nov 10, 2021

Sarah Y. Tse learned and shared many business and life lessons in her new book, 7 Years on the Front Line. Below are a dozen insights on how to lead your life and business:

1. Love of money is the root of all evil. “Let’s not pretend that money isn’t critical for anyone who creates, grows, and runs a small business. If you don’t have to make money, you’re not going to be in business for very long: running a business requires managing your money wisely. But if your love of money is stronger than your love for people or stronger than your desire for respect earned from doing the right thing, then you will fail. Today, I pause every time I enter a new relationship with a client or supplier and ask myself: Am I treating this person fairly? Am I treating this person honorably? Am I treating this person in the way I want to be treated?”

2. Get it in writing. “No matter who you’re in business with, no matter how righteous or honest or Christian they appear, you need a solid contract.”

3. Don’t ignore your gut feelings. “It is important to pay attention to all warning signs, both obvious and subtle.”

4. Don’t be afraid to fight for justice. “You may be an individual of a small company, but that does not mean you shouldn’t fight for justice. If you are on the side of justice, do not be afraid to fight, no matter how fierce the giants in your life appear. If you are just starting your business, please do not assume that all business relationships are toxic.”

5. You will face more than one challenge at a time. Be prepared. “You cannot become so consumed by one challenge that you stop paying attention to everything else.”

6. When people punch you, you don’t have to punch back. “Respond to insults with dignity and character to ensure your words and actions reflect who you are.”

7. Pay attention to character. “You do not need to partner with people who do not respect you. If you do, it will lead to regret and multiple problems down the road.”

8. Stand your ground and know your worth. “Know your worth and where you stand. Never compromise your standards if short on revenue. Focus on pursuing accounts and customers who respect and value you and who are willing to partner with you for the long haul.”

9. Pay attention to the instincts of those who care about you. “You should also listen to the people who love you. They can often see things from different angles, especially when you are blinded by your own pride or passion. Take your friends’ warnings seriously, even if you don’t like what you hear.”

10. Be cautious, not afraid. “In the life of a small business, there will be difficult decisions, decisions that don’t seem clear or black and white. There will be times when a decision looks like a great opportunity and will involve terrifying risk. Don’t be afraid. At those times, you will need counsel from wise colleagues and leaders, elders and mentors, and family and friends. You will need to lean on wisdom bigger than your ego and emotions, deeper than your circumstances, and stranger than the storms you will sail into.”

11. Maintain a good reputation. “I believe that one of the things that helped me with the IRS auditor was that I had a clean record. I had no history of shady dealings, scandals, or trouble, and I did not have to explain any past irregularities or questionable practices. My lawyers also had good representatives: their integrity and experience gave them credibility. We went into this investigation with nothing to hide and nothing to apologize for, and I was cleared.”

12. Pay regular attention to your mental health. “Even if you do everything right, failing to pay attention to stress will cost you both physical and mental health. Your mind, soul, and body are not separate systems: they were designed to work as one. Life is challenging, and when your body is not operating at an optimal level (or even a normal level), it will affect your business relationships, self-image, finances, sleep, everything. Be intentional and make it a habit to check your stress levels. Find something to relieve stress on a regular basis, such as exercise, meditation, personal retreats, or counseling.”

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