Immutable Laws

Immutable Laws are the most useful part of the Prosperity Plan as described by Mike Michalowicz in The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. Grab a copy of the book if you want the full detail, but here's the gist of it: We all have values and beliefs that resonate with each of us at a personal level. Immutable Laws are these foundational beliefs applied to the business venture.

Why are they useful? Well, should a business exhibit moral character? A personality? What if it is a one-employee business? I certainly think so and wouldn't want to work anywhere that doesn't at least profess to uphold a set of principles.

But who naturally thinks of the moral character during the start up phase? Sure, in a loosey-goosey, nebulous manner. No one plans to become an evil empire, but who takes time to codify and document these aspirations?

The Immutable Laws exercise forces you to do just that. It also has a side benefit of clarifying the raison d'etre of the venture and forming a baseline for a brand image.

I had previously toyed with the idea of Cottonwood Analytics as an empowering force for small business — a way of leveling the playing field relative to large businesses. This concept really solidified itself as I formulated these Immutable Laws:

  • Honesty Beats Profit: Be ruthlessly honest about prices and capabilities. Be an advisor, not a salesman. Highlight where other services would be a better fit.

  • Creation is Admirable: People who build something new should be admired and rewarded. Be the post, not the comment, and empower others to do the same.

  • Better Processes = Better Results: People routinely make poor decisions, especially when those decisions are based on habit or tradition. The only way to persistently make better decisions is by changing the decision making process. Arguments about specific topics don't scale; step-change improvement requires better processes.

  • Simplicity: Few things really matter. Find the things that matter and eliminate the rest — in life and in business. Complicated instruction lists don't matter. The latest software stack doesn't matter. Status symbols don't matter.

None of these are novel ideas. They actually seem obvious. But the act of writing them down solidified several ideas that have been percolating in my personal and business life.

Precise plans are rarely valuable. But this exercise was (relatively) quick, and the payoff will be greater than any traditional business plan.