Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

Oh, put your sanctimony away in the drawer.

Yes, the one in which you keep your sex toys.

Pornography has always stood at the heart of innovation.

When you look at technology, for example, the military and the porn industry have always been ahead of slower-moving corporate organizations.

What, then, might you learn from one of the more modern porn stars and entrepreneurs, Joanna Angel?

Angel created her BurningAngel empire in 2002. She was at the forefront of what's called alt-porn, a genre that melds porn with hipness, sex with music.

BurningAngel straddles porn, rock 'n' roll and pop culture in a way that the more than 500,000 people who go to it every month seem to enjoy.

Turn your nose up if you choose, but Joanna Angel has been profiled in the New York Times. Have you?

So I asked her if she could reveal her 10 most cherished principles that have guided her business to success. She kindly obliged.

1. Make A Product You Would Buy.

"Whatever it is your selling," she told me, "ask yourself: "Would I buy this? If you wouldn't buy it, then why would anyone else? Make something you're proud of, that you want to talk about and post about everywhere."

How many business people spend their days peddling something they themselves have contempt for? More than a few, I suspect.

2. Trust Your Gut.

"I've made business plans that came from analyzing data, but nothing ever works as well as when I just have a random idea and I run with it. It's part of what separates a business owner from an employee. If your gut is telling you to do something, run with it. And if your gut is telling you something is a bad idea when all your data is telling you its a good idea, don't do it."

In this era of big, enormous, ginormous data, how many entrepreneurs are still thinking for themselves? How many have a gut at all? Few in Silicon Valley.

3. Quality Not Quantity When It Comes To Employees And Contractors.

"It's better to spend your money on one good employee and have them work their a** off and do multiple jobs, then have a handful or cheap employees who all have one or two tasks to complete."

At a time when wages have been suppressed and companies have made more profits than ever, it's tempting to hire for cost. It costs you.

4. Make Realistic Goals For Yourself And Conquer Them. Then Make New Goals. 

"While its motivating to think big, don't think too big," she told me. She believes that "you just get delusional." She says that making a small business grow takes a lot of baby steps. "Be patient and think of the step in front of you before you try to conquer what is 5 steps in front of you."

It's called execution. It's called realism. It's not called "trying to change the world instantly because I'm sure I can do it."

5. Pay your taxes, and do it on time. 

"Keep your business legit," she says, "even if you're in an illegitimate business. No one wants to work for a company or be associated with a company whose funds are getting seized because they slacked on doing their taxes for two years."

It seems obvious, doesn't it? Not to everyone, actually.

6. Be nice to your competition. 

Angel's motto: "In business there will always be competition and starting some kind of drama with them never does any good." This doesn't mean you should be airy-fairy. "Stay on your toes, and do what you can to stay ahead of the game. Be friendly with your competition and play fair. You never know, you might want to team up and work together one day or you might be able to help each other in some way. Crushing people doesn't lead to any long term success. Working with people does."

This is advice Donald Trump may not often follow.

7. Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry On The Internet.

"Once you're representing a brand, think about what you're posting," she cautions. "You don't want a potential customer to be turned away because they don't like who you're voting for. And you don't want employees losing respect for you. How can someone answer to you if you're posting drunken rants about being lonely, or angry at your ex boyfriend?"

We all have dirty laundry. We're all tempted, at times, to garner sympathy from virtual people out there. If you run a business, go to a bar and whisper quietly. Don't go online.

8. Don't Clock Out.

"If you want to get a business off the ground, you have to actively do something for it every day," she believes. "Especially in the first few years. If you haven't put in at least forty hours a week in contributing towards your goals then you aren't going to reach them. If you're stuck and you just don't know what to do, ask knowledgeable  people for advice or try to find literature you can read that will inspire you or guide you."

Losing faith is so easy when you're out there on your own. You can't. 

9. Stay Current.

For Angel, technology is a vital component. "Stay on top of technological changes," she told me. "Don't create something that only works on platforms that no one uses. Keep things looking visually fresh on your website, your social media and everything else."

In essence, then, it's hard work keeping up with the world. Social media, however instant and convenient, makes it even harder.

10. Know Why People Buy Your Product.

Joanna is a porn star. I wasn't going to edit out her true beliefs. She explained to me: "Use your a**. Literally. People like a**es. When I post a photo of my a** on social media, it always yields better results than images of anything else. I don't get it. I go to the gym every goddamn day. You would think people would be excited to buy my porn when they see my sweet abs, but no. Just a**. People want a**. If you can't use your own a** to sell your product, you can probably use mine. Hit me up if you need my a** and we can probably work something out."

Some entrepreneurs don't understand the core of their own businesses. Understanding and following your customer is an art form in itself. The entrepreneurs who make assumptions about their customers -- they're the ones who make, well, donkeys of themselves.

Published on: Mar 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.