01 Dec The Secret Sauce of Staying in Business
Business – The Secret Sauce for Success
In meeting leaders from around the world these last weeks, I know more than ever before that what we create is what we think of ourselves. I also know that the rate that we continue to learn new areas of our business directly impacts our success.
The saying that you are never “too old or young” makes sense in our information age. You are never too old, too new, too experienced, or too inexperienced, to learn a new way of doing things – a new approach, and a new skill.
In fact, if you are not learning something new – if you are not learning something from a mistake, something that didn’t go as you wanted or expected, you may need to. This is because you likely aren’t learning enough to propel your business toward necessary growth.
In my meetings with mentors bridging the gaps of sales, branding, self-help and coaching, thought leadership, business strategy, health, and innovation in technology, there are nuggets that all will agree on.
If your goal is to build a sustainable business, don’t quit your day job. In other words, if you don’t have a consistent, reliable source of income, find one and use that to learn what it takes to build a business on someone else’s dime.
What I mean by this is, that if you put all of your eggs into one basket and don’t have the long-term means to plan financially for your next big idea, you probably aren’t going to have the resources to sustain it.
In the beginning, your business may rely largely on your personal involvement and work. As a business owner, if you want to grow, you’re only as good as the team you build. Businesses can begin with you and a small team. Yet, if you and your team doesn’t grow with it, you have less of a chance of surviving the ups and downs of getting your business past it’s early stages.
I’ve learned a few of these things the hard way. I’ve left projects I didn’t want too prematurely. I thought I had the plan of putting my ambition, hard work, and expertise on my own brand at the right time. However, with more knowledge about the time it takes to build a business, I wouldn’t have left so early.
Launching a new business or a new project that is not properly funded may be the quickest way to not be able to finish your goals. Likewise, if your team doesn’t share your vision, mission, and values, as well as understand how to “wow” customers, not just attract them but sustain them, you may not have what it takes to stay in business.
If you continue to plan your dream career, business, or ventures while you have reliable income – heck you can get funded in a myriad of ways, this ensures that you don’t run out of cash, and even if it takes longer than you plan to see a finish line, you’re still in business. If you take this approach and plan for employee changes, find the right teams, and put in place the necessary systems, your business will likely grow.
Without systems, your business can’t take over without you. This isn’t sustainable.
The next piece of wisdom I’ve learned from the very best in leadership (stay tuned for the next issue of the magazine) is to learn how to sharpen your skills. Here’s an example. If you are always using the same tools in the garden without sharpening those tools, you may be fast and able to prune your tree just fine in the beginning. Yet over time, you notice somehow you are slower and not able to keep up with cutting the tree with the same results.
This is because your tools aren’t sharpened.
To sharpen your tools, you have to take the time to take care of them. You have to know that your results aren’t only about your ambition and stamina of how long it takes you to physically work. Your tools need to be just as sharp as all of your other resources to get the job done well.
Another rule of thumb is to know where your advice comes from. Not all advice is created equal. For instance, if you are given money to invest in your business, but you don’t have a solid plan to pay it back or the immediate resources to do so, you shouldn’t borrow it. You have to be able to know that someone promising to help you scale your business is the right mentor for you. You have to trust your business influencers, leaders, and lenders.
It’s not different with personal business or health. It’s really universal advice. If for example, you owe $50,000 in taxes and you haven’t weighed the best way to pay for those taxes, you could owe a lot more by taking the wrong advice.
How to tell from whom to learn?
Get referrals. Business referrals are something I talk about often because I believe it’s one of the best places to get good advice. Talk to many people and get multiple credible opinions on the topic with which you need help. Take the example of taxes. If you get the input of tax attorneys and no one else, you may only be getting one side of the story. If you get the opinion of successful investors who deals with taxes for their clients, you are getting not only both sides of the coin, but also the third side of the coin, the edge. If you only see one or two sides of the coin, you may not have the full perspective and advice from only a legal or business standpoint. It may not be the best advice for you.
I’m not saying a good general M.D. wouldn’t refer you to a specialist; however, you need to also have the judgment to figure out when you need better advice. Always get a second opinion, if it feels right.
Just as in the example of health, if you own a business, a project, a growing career, you owe it to your organization and yourself to get the best information possible.