Business the Cowboy Way
by Rick Hoar, Managing Producer
March 16, 2010

Texas has a certain mystique when it comes to business and service. Folks often wonder just what us cowboys are thinking when we refuse to do business according to convention or compete down in the mud with the rest of our respective industries. Want to know the secret?

It’s simple: Honor.

Now, not all businessmen practicing in the Lone Star State are as noble as our aforementioned cowboy entrepreneurs. Indeed, as more and more large corporations find excuses to wander down to our cities, the amount of money they waste in attempting to exploit our magical economy is staggering. But, to truly understand the success that our state continues to enjoy, you simply have to walk the walk.

Specifically, there are a few things ANYONE can do to insure an honorable venture:

1.) Hone a good work ethic. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” (Col. 3:23). Don’t show up to take smoke breaks, and do give the effort that you would expect those working for you to give. Be realistic, and therefore sustainable and consistent about your intensity, but just be sure you're proud of what you’ve accomplished at the end of each and every day.

2.) Support your work ethic by doing it only for a fair wage. There’s no point in taking a job if you don’t feel you are adequately reimbursed for your efforts. Either through cash, experience or simple happiness, if your compensation isn’t enough to keep you on the ball, it’s a bad idea to enter into that work agreement.

If that’s not an unusual enough concept, consider the flip-side: One should also try to maintain fees that are competitive* and fair to the payer. All business should be mutually beneficial by definition, despite what the quarterly profit-chasing, low-price guarantee economy-at-large would have us believe today. *competitive = reasonable, not absolute cheapest!

With these pricing ground rules, you won’t win every bid or get every job, but if you aren’t legitimately the cheapest provider in town, your quality may simply be better than others. Representing your fees confidently will imply that you take pride in your work, and there will always be customers and employers that have been burned by the cheapest alternative that will respond to that. Just back it up when you’re on the clock!

3.) Don’t skimp on labor. If you rely on employees or subcontractors to make your business work, realize that these people directly affect your ability to make money. They represent you on the front lines, and they ultimately determine how efficient you can be. Start by aggressively paying the best wages and benefits you can afford. Attract the most and best applicants by maintaining a positive work environment and creating “the dream job” of others.

Then, “inspect what you expect” by holding your workforce accountable. By being the best employer in town, you’ll earn the luxury of picking and choosing your support staff from a larger and more eager labor pool. Just retain the producers and release the detractors.

The rest is just details, but these principles are what set the old-school entrepreneurs apart from the Wall Street Fail Whales chasing their tails around the market today. It’s largely a lesson in common sense, but as America re-awakens, we’ll have to re-learn those old norms.

Finally, everyone should realize by now that big government often asserts itself into business dealings, under the guise of economic protectionism, simply to maintain its own influence. A good entrepreneur can still thrive despite taxation and regulation, but if government becomes too assertive, consider doing business elsewhere.

As a legal economic contributor, you are an asset to any locality. While business shouldn’t have to participate in politics to grow, companies and individuals should feel free to flex their dollar votes by vacating politically hostile work environments!