Rules of the game Featured

8:57am EDT October 29, 2001

Here are his top rules:

1. Focus and discipline are critical. Lots of people want to buy something that is almost, but not quite, the same as what you're selling. Don't stray from your mission, Weaver says.
''That temptation can be difficult to pass up when you have no sales, but distracting your business from its main purpose is dangerous, even when your lights might go out next week.''

2. Always take a paycheck. You get lazy not taking a paycheck; it lets you be inefficient.
''There may be some masochistic satisfaction from sacrifice, but you need to set out to build a business that can pay you a good income,'' Weaver says. ''When I almost sold the company, they told me what they would pay me to run it. I realized that that was what I should be getting out of the business and I started earning and paying myself that.''

3. Marketing and image are everything. Better marketing can overcome a superior product any day, Weaver says. Selling junk, however, will kill your business in the long run.
''It's not the product, it's the underlying philosophy, the reason for being in business,'' he says. ''Find a need and fill it. That's how this came about. I saw a need.''

4. The walk outdoes the talk. There must be a good reason for prospects to buy from you and employees to work for you. You have to believe it and live it. It's much more important than a written statement, Weaver says.
''Everyone else saw towing as an opportunity to get rich rather than trying to make each tower and towing better,'' Weaver says. ''They're thinking give and get vs. give and receive. If you give because you want to get, it doesn't work.''

5. Pay employees first. This rule is for when times are tight because it violates rule No. 2, Weaver says.
''After we built our new house, we went eight weeks without a paycheck.''

6. You can't teach attitude. Despite great skill and talent, some employees just clash with your staff and hurt the business, Weaver says. An employee who genuinely cares about the company and the customers is better than an employee who is highly qualified, but can't work with others.
''Our own business was crippled by prima donnas,'' he says. ''Suddenly, you think your business can't survive without someone you just don't like. Turns out, you can survive very well.''