We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. — Aristotle
Cutting corners is an easy thing to do. Save a little time here, cut a little budget there – it can add up to a lot. The next thing you know you have more money in your pocket and honestly, most people won't notice the difference. But bad business habits can lead you down a slippery slope and the next thing you know you've slid from A to B to C to somewhere you thought you would never end up when you cut that first corner. This gets compounded because people follow their leaders, and corporate culture starts at the top.
As I have come to know more entrepreneurs and people that hope to be entrepreneurs some day, I have noticed a few key similarities between the ones that are successful (in their startups or their jobs). And while I confess that I am not sure if it is correlation or causation, I want to talk about one of those traits – the morality of excellence. I think successful entrepreneurs view excellence as a moral imperative.
What is a moral imperative? It is sort of like a built in responsibility that you believe in for reasons that, like other moral issues, are often more internal than external. When I say excellence is a moral imperative, I mean that entrepreneurs don't see cutting corners as an option. They don't rip off customers, they don't fudge accounting numbers, they don't cheat vendors and hope it goes unnoticed. Their internal compass demands excellence for it's own sake. Why do I think this is true? Three reasons.
You have to love the game.
The biggest reward for a thing well done is to have done it — Voltaire
Doing things is almost always difficult. Things that haven't been done before are even more so. The deck is stacked against you and if you are thinking about all the money you will make then you probably won't make any. You have to love the process of what you are doing, otherwise you risk not getting anything done. You have to learn and improve quickly, and that doesn't happen if you don't really care about doing something well.