I don’t know about you, but I browse LinkedIn and sometimes other social media platforms and cannot help but notice all the advice out there on how to run a business. Each comes as an apparent revelation because nobody knew it before, did they?
I think anyone who writes, me included, can be a little guilty of that. We all know deep down that there is nothing new in business, ever! Technology changes and brings new opportunities, but the fundamentals of business have not changed, probably in thousands of years. So, why the revelations?
The answer for me is that while there is nothing new in business, there are new people coming into the business environment, and so many of them at the beginning of their journey, have no clue what they are getting into, and if they did, would probably have gone and got a job somewhere. It is only after they have been immersed in “self-employment” and confronted all the demons (HMRC, bookkeeping, staff issues and the rest) that in 90% of cases they would never want to go back and work for anybody else again. After so long in this environment, I am probably unemployable, not that I was ever a good employee anyway.
I was pondering this earlier and a phrase came to mind that I have heard delivered so many times:
Plan your work and then work your plan.
As with all such business revelations, it is only part of the story. Yes, you need a plan, but you cannot start any journey without a sense of your destination. Once you know where you want to go, you can map out your route for getting there. You now have a plan.
However, you cannot plan everything. If you can, it probably means anyone else could plan that route just as easily and there are more likely to be others doing the same thing as you i.e. competition.
Let me suggest the two fundamentals for a really successful business. First, you must have identified a business opportunity that is sufficiently profitable. You then need to have confidence in your own ability to overcome all the obstacles and unknowns that you will encounter along the way.
You also must accept that you will have personal strengths and weaknesses. That’s just life. If you want to succeed and reach your destination, you employ your strengths and find a workaround for your weaknesses. But many people at the outset do not realise their strengths because they have not been tested yet. Don’t underestimate what you are actually capable of doing.
Now you take action. It may take a year, 5 years or 20 years to get where you want to go. You must pick up that baton and run with it. You must face new challenges almost on a daily basis. You will come to learn the significance of the most important word in business, “next!”
Your journey will involve making a plan and then working your plan, but it will also involve constant checking of the compass to see that you are still on course, and if necessary, making corrections to your direction of travel. This may be necessitated by you having veered off course or it could be the market has changed and you need to change with it. You must have the flexibility and courage to discard people, strategies and beliefs that no longer serve your greater purpose. Keep your eye on the prize!
Many business revelations and cute phrases are strategies that you will employ on your journey, and as such most of them will apply to you to a greater or lesser extent.
Many years ago, my future father in law gave me a phrase which I think is probably the best piece of business advice I can share with anyone in business. It is just another such tool in my business toolbox. He was a farmer and he told it to me while we were castrating calves together many years ago. It was “a sharp knife and a clean conscience”.
I will not go into the details but suffice it to say that I have applied this on so many occasions, although not literally. What it means to anyone in business is that when you have a situation to resolve, make the call, there and then. Sometimes you get it wrong and sometimes you can correct it. But not resolving the situation can allow the problem to fester and become a much larger issue further down the track. You have things to do and worrying about a festering problem will drag you and the business down.
Do you know where you are heading? I do, so where do I go after this. Next!
If you want to carry on this discussion but you are not sure where to find us, please click here.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership