Starting a Business Successfully Demands Unconventional Wisdom.
“Visionary Business Leaders HATE Conventional Wisdom.”
To plan, launch and grow a successful business requires visionary start-ups and entrepreneurs to think and act counter-intuitively, by avoiding the old ways of approaching business start-ups, and bucking the conventional wisdom propagated by supposed experts.
As a business coach, I’m always asked by people looking to start their own business: “what rules should I follow” and “which experts should I talk to” or even “what are the Dos and Don’ts to starting a successful business.”
The one truism to starting a successful business in these transformational times that I can share with aspiring business start-ups and entrepreneurs is, throw all the conventional thinking
and old ways of doing things right out the window.
We live in transformational times. The 21st Century has ushered in an unparalleled amount of global competition, wild swings in geographic region for the cheapest sources of labor, mind-blowing technological advances (just look at what your smart phone can do) and international competition that creates 24x7x365 competition and business activity.
In the old days, the conventional approach was to find something you were expert at and pursue a business venture in that field. Due to the tremendous competition and pressure associated with launching a successful business that approach is no longer valid.
Today, you have to find the overlap between the things that you do really well and are technically adept at AND things that you are also extremely passionate about. It’s not enough to possess passion but not expertise. Conversely, no matter how proficient you are in a discipline or experienced in a given industry if you lack passion then you will ultimately fail. What do you do/have you done that you can safely claim you are expert in and passion about?
Conventional wisdom says planning a business requires developing a 100-page business plan that factors in all potential variables and forces and factors that will impact your success rate in starting a business. Unconventional wisdom says there is simply no way that you can plan for every contingency given the rate and degree of transformational change. In the past 4 years we’ve seen entire industries uprooted and businesses with 100,000 employees deemed “TOO BIG TO FAIL” fail! It used to be you HAD to pursue traditional (large bank) investors. Now the big banks won’t touch you and there is a sea of investors who can help you fund a start up plus non-traditional funding sources. In today’s transformational times you should be talking to investors FIRST. Ask what information they want, and how they prefer business owners to pitch them on new business to invest in. They’ll say a 1-page executive plan, 10 slide Powerpoint and spreadsheet showing operational costs (how many clients, revenues, commercial pricing, and other costs to launch and operate your business.
Conventional wisdom says thoroughly research your business idea, speak with numerous stakeholders,conduct extensive market research and complete a comprehensive business plan that addresses numerous contingencies and various foreseen changes. While today’s business climate still demands you conduct the required research, you should test the perceived demand for your products or services by giving people who resemble your ideal customer the chance to test your product/service and see if their demand matches what your own expectations are.
The converse also holds true. Most business owners apply failed logic of conventional wisdom to jump right into the “DO”ing part of the business. They build a website, speak to suppliers, look for investors and partners before they have done any personal assessment to see if they are even suited to start a business.
They don’t conduct a personal assessment to determine their strengths and skill sets, nor do they truly understand their areas for improvement or skills they may be lacking. Any new business owner MUST ask herself: “What do I have to offer that is truly unique?” What makes you uniquely qualified to start this business? By answering correctly you will have defined your very own unique selling proposition that you can use as your business start-up personal brand. Your personal brand represents your new business start-up brand. A brand is a promise that you will deliver something unique, invaluable and memorable. Is that what you and your business have to offer?
The average life of a Fortune 500 firm is 50 years…just 50 years! We are talking the largest multinational organizations in the world, and that’s it. The average life of an established is JUST 10 years. That’s it…a decade! Businesses don’t stay around long these days, due to the transformational change in markets, fickle consumer demand, mercenary customers, technological change, and competition. A business either folds within 10 years, or it gets acquired.
All the organizations that exist to support small business owners in planning and launching successful businesses do NOT know what they are talking about. Despite their best intentions entrepreneur support networks like the Small Business Administration, SCORE, Economic Development Corporations, Small Business Development Centers, often do not fully understand the complexities of specific businesses nor are they acquainted with the latest technologies, dynamics of global trade, skill sets of graduates of American universities affecting human talent/start-up staffing challenges, etc.
The most successful business owners and entrepreneurs have a keen sense of purpose, possess TREMENDOUS energy, are never happy with the status quo. They constantly question why things are done the old way, they never accept that good is good enough, and they are always looking for a faster and more efficient way to get things done. These successful business start-ups are the kinds of people who just love to constantly ask: “WHY” and “WHAT IF?”
In a word, they are visionaries. They are bold enough to think they can actually change the world, and hate to embrace conventional wisdom. These entrepreneurs take
a counter-intuitive approach to solving problems. Where are they heading? They know the way, they show the way and they go the way. They like to take the path least traveled.
Given today’s stagnant global economy, these are just the right kind of (contrarian) people we need to lead us. We should be doing everything in our power to empower them to achieve success in their pursuit of starting their own business. That is where future jobs growth will come from.
Here’s to your continued business success.