Nearly a decade ago, Google released 10 basic concepts that were at the core of their business. Although these rules were definitely more geared toward the search/internet industry, I believe there are valuable lessons in here that can apply to nearly any business.

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
  3. Fast is better than slow.
  4. Democracy on the web works.
  5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  6. You can make money without doing evil.
  7. There’s always more information out there.
  8. The need for information crosses all borders.
  9. You can be serious without a suit.
  10. Great just isn’t good enough.

This list used to be accessible through, but they have since removed it from that page. Now, you’re redirected to their “about” page with the company’s latest news (which often includes some good reads).

From Google’s list, there are a few that especially stood out to me:

#9: For starters, number nine is a classic. You can, indeed, be serious without a suit. Google built their company with the thought that work should be challenging, but challenge should be fun. Just because you’re not miserable at work doesn’t mean you’re not being productive. In fact, it could be the exact opposite.

#3: Unless you’re driving in a school zone, fast is always better than slow. If you’re searching for something online, you want the results as fast as possible. Similarly, if there’s a new trend or advancement in your industry, you have to be on the ball. If you’re not moving, you’re falling behind.

#1: When Google is focusing on their user, they’re referring to the people who use Google for their everyday needs. For an insurance company like mine, this is more related to focusing on our clients. At the end of the day, their satisfaction is the marker of our business’s success.

#6: This is a rule more people should pay attention to. You can make money without doing evil. When you avoid scamming customers and compromising your morals for an extra buck, you can still be financially successful.  There is still merit in running an honest business. If your company is built on a solid platform, there’s more room to grow.

In fact, “don’t be evil” is Google’s corporate code of conduct motto that was first suggested by employee Paul Buchheit. The phrase isn’t included in their official code of conduct, but it is a reminder that exploiting users is never okay. In any company or situation, if you see something that isn’t right, speak up!

#10: My final thought is on number ten in the list. Great isn’t good enough. You should aim for better than “great.” Be fantastic, amazing, profound, exceptional, extraordinary, distinguished. When you set the goal for “great,” you’re missing the opportunity to be so much more.