5 Commandments of Business Sustainability

(Read the third commandment to see how I lost my books.)

I’m not qualified to write this. But in another article entitled “The Most Useful Definition of Get Rich Quick,” I promised this: “God willing, in another article, I will outline [MJ DeMarco’s] five commandments of a sustainable business.“

So whatever I say here, it is advice coming from MJ DeMarco and his book, “The Millionnaire Fastlane.”

However, if you have not read the aforementioned article, please try to do so. It provides the context for this.

That said, here are the five commandments of business success as enumerated by MJ DeMarco.

  1. Commandment of Need

Your customers must need your service or products if you want to succeed. This means that your offer should not be something that is a “nice to have” but something customers might not be able to live without.

One such example is education. Every parent wants his child to be educated no matter how they define that education. It can be online, offline, in a classroom or one to one. It can be the regulated kind or not regulated.

How education and skills are acquired keep changing. Already, we have 100,000 students classrooms.

Example of other needs are medicine, food, shelter, clothing and so forth.

  1. Commandment of difficulty of entry

Don’t start a business that is easy for everyone to start. Because then, everyone would do it. And if everyone does it, then things can get messy and you may lose control. (The commandment of control is discussed next.)

For example, starting your own Amazon.com is very difficult and that’s why the owner is the richest man in the world. But starting a YouTube channel or blog or a podcast are relatively easy.

In spite of what DeMarco says, starting something (even the one where the entry bar is low) is better than not starting at all.

  1. Commandment of Control

You should start something you have control over. If not, when you become successful, the person or the platform with the control can yank away your success overnight and leave you with nothing. For example, if you’re successful on platforms like YouTube, Instagram or Facebook, that success can be taken away from you by algorithms of the platforms or a change in policy or if you offended the gods of the platform.

Let me give you a personal example. I had my books uploaded on a platform which distributed the books to Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Nobles, etc. One day they demanded that I submit tax documents. It took awhile to get the documents from the relevant government agencies in Nigeria. By the time I returned, they had ejected me from the platform; making me lose everything I had invested.

  1. Commandment of Scale

You should be able to scale or grow or expand your business in the future. It is okay if you can’t scale, but you may not become a millionaire doing the business. So scale is important. Ask yourself is there room to expand in the future? Yet, there are businesses that thrive on their smallness. So I guess it depends on what you’re doing. Indeed, I read a book recently that is against the idea of scale.

  1. Commandment of Time

Finally, your success should not be tied to the time you spend on your business. For instance, if you go on vacation, will your business stand or collapse?

Of course, when you start a business, you may want to invest an inordinate amount of time. But as it grows , it should be sustainable without you being there all the time.


So, those are the five commandments of business success according to MJ DeMarco. These commandments are very useful guidelines. You may not have all of them to succeed. But a combination of some of them would make a huge difference.

Series count: 59/100

  • Ibraheem Dooba, PhD
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