The Entrepreneurs Not-So-Secret Diary
All business owners reach out at some time or another for what is perceived as the “hidden secrets to success” that they think others possess. I am not of course referring to technical and professional proficiency. The likelihood that academic, and experienced industry experts do possess business truths that will help is real and we should continue to explore those sources of knowledge.
But a question that has nagged me over many years now – Through multiple degrees, short courses and reading thousands of books – is “Who taught that first person?” Or perhaps in a slightly more direct way – “How did they think of that?”
These thoughts that I outline now have been gained from listening and watching the behavior of very successful business owners.
The fact is, every business person has created for themselves successful or positive outcomes. These successes had the following common characteristics: –
That success probably occurred early on in the life of their business
It did not come from an alleged expert.
It arrived as a consequence of trying something different a number of times until they got it right;
It came from having personal energy and perseverance.
The way forward will always be likely to generate failures and dead ends. Thomas Edison is one person who is quoted as saying “I failed my way to success” and “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Barry Moltz in his book “You need to be a little crazy” says “It is not a question of whether you will fail as an entrepreneur, it is simply a question of when and how.”
So; Initial failure is a hallmark of business success. I offer an overriding observation that in order to find the secrets to success we should all re-visit the mind-set we had as new business owners. This should be done when things are going well, and especially when things are not going so well.
If you want more… more success, more fun, and more wealth, you need to re-learn the value of planned risk-taking.
The first step for such behavior changes as a business owner requires us to get back into the habit of putting ourselves into unchartered waters. To do things in our business that possibly might end in failure, personal rejection, embarrassment, increased cost and reduced profit.
This is not an argument for betting everything on the throw of a dice; intentionally embarking upon a catastrophic course of action, nor is it the same as throwing a spare set of clothes into a knapsack and setting out to trek the Andes.
It is however a firm statement that you should attempt to re- insert a little “uncertainty” into your business. To try something different with the knowledge that the possibility of a “bad” outcome will not be quite as damaging to you personally or professionally as the anticipatory fear predicts it will be. The likelihood of “good” outcomes is however, amplified.
Here are a couple of thoughts that will make the step less stressful.
Thought 1 – Celebrate your wins. A well-known Australian speaker Bruce Sullivan – refers to the fact that people avoid risk in part due to their linking personal “feel good” to results or outcomes, rather than to action. One observable characteristic that all successful business owners possess is their determination to see the positive outcome from any event. So, find some recent action you took that compelled you to take a risk. Then celebrate and feel good about the fact that you did just that. The feel-good emotion from the activity may be something that is missing in your business day. Go and do it again.
Thought 2 – Risk a few hours per week to work with the longer term in mind. Simply put; comfortable yet unproductive routine is the killer of business. If you do the same thing this year as you did last year – you will get the same results. Today, your business finances may be fragile, managing may be tougher than ever before, you may not know what to do in response to the pressure you confront. I say “Don’t first turn to the gurus and experts!” They are not your savior!
Undertaking to do something different should be your first action; choosing to get uncomfortable by taking frequent small risky steps is the best and most profitable start to resolving business problems.
Thought 3 – When things don’t go your way, practice acceptance! If you are in your comfort zone, (even if it feels decidedly uncomfortable because of business conditions) acceptance of a set-back will be the last thing you want to confront. You may have to face up to subtle fears, (those hidden from everyone, even yourself) but you must force your own perception of what is safe in your predictable world, to be tested.
To be a dynamic business owner, there must be comfort and acceptance for elements of uncertainty, and the acknowledgement that to do something that should end in success might end in failure.
Thought 4 – Be prepared to look foolish. By far the biggest business mistake we make is avoiding at all cost the risk of being perceived as odd or different, appearing foolish. As a consequence, we all refuse to admit an absence of knowledge, or for being less than perfect. But look at all the people who you associate with. The happy and prosperous people do make mistakes; do go overboard at times – that could be exactly the reason that they are happy and prosperous.
Here is some good news, people who are liked, who are nice to be around – are just like you – So you might as well be that person who looks for improved outcomes in each day – a person who does not let others dictate what action is useful, important or ultimately valuable, or what you will or will not give a try.
It’s only when you have lost everything, that you realize you haven’t lost everything
Kevin Lovewell is a Director of Negotia Group, Based in Queensland. He is a licensed Business Broker, Registered Business Valuer and business advisor. He has built his career in successfully helping business owners. He is also an Accountant – retired from public practice. He holds the following qualifications. B.Bus (Accy). MBA (QUT). RBV.