Growth Entrepreneur – the much referred to lonely journey

31/08/2012

Successful entrepreneurs so often talk about the feeling of isolation they experience when pursing their desired aims and objectives. The journey to a bigger job, the quest to build your own business or being at the helm of an organisation where the buck stops with you can create a sense of overwhelming burden. Such feelings can be difficult to switch on and off as they can hang over our very existence. Striving for success invariably involves expeditions into the unknown where situations, circumstances, cultures or environments can trigger immense insecurity. Making the right decisions becomes the central focus of our intention as delivering the wrong ones could effect both our own or other peoples future, they could result in financial hardship, losing face with others, humiliation and as a worst case damage your health.

The preoccupation with getting the decisions right has all the danger signs of isolating ourselves from others. We must take positive steps to ensure that we don’t withdraw into ourselves and find channels that turn the feeling of loneliness into one that ensures we have an effective support infrastructure around us –this becomes the route by which we answer the question of who motivates the motivator.

In the process of moving towards a successful and fulfilling life and career we can take some simple steps to combating loneliness:

Smile – don’t signal your loneliness to your peers and other that you are trying to influence. This could have an adverse effect on how you are perceived. Also remember life is too short to be miserable.

Friends – we all have friends outside of work make sure you talk to them. They are a great source of support and advice

Learn – new situations and environments will require new knowledge – the more you know the more confident you become, the less isolated you feel

Be friendly – be nice to everyone you meet, it makes people warm to you and you feed off their energy

Attend events – networking events where like minded people congregate provide an ideal opportunity to share experience and war stories.

Ambassadors – build relationships with people that support your points of view. Ensure that you communicate with them and keep them in the loop of what you are thinking and doing – they become your extended voice

You may feel alone and isolated but you must take comfort in the fact that at some point in their progression to success others have felt exactly the same. Remember at some point in the future you will be able to share with others how you coped and made it through those lonely days and nights


Enterprise Rehearsal

21/08/2012

Why is it a large proportion of the workforce want to work for themselves but only a few actually go for it? My view is that fear holds so many back – the fear of not being able to pay the mortgage, have holidays or enjoy nights out at weekends. The key challenge to overcome is getting yourself conditioned to recognising there is no pay cheque going to land in your account at the end of the month. This can often be the biggest barrier to going forward.

Well there are other ways of thinking about being your own boss and indeed rehearsing before the big performance. Speaking from experience I have found that an interest or hobby can be turned into a small business. I remember some twenty odd year ago when taking the plunge was just not an option but it was a burning desire. A young family, and mortgage meant that rehearsal was the only way, and gosh did it pay dividends. Turning a passion for contemporary art into a small business taught me loads about suppliers, customers, doing the books, VAT returns, dealing with awkward people – the list goes on.

These experiences can help so much in the conditioning process and with very little outlay can unleash a profitable stream of revenue. There are opportunities that so many of us just overlook, here are some ways you can rehearse:

– Buying and selling on eBay

– Car boot sales

– Take a market stall at weekends

– Take a stall at an art/antiques fair

– Buy a small property do it up and sell it

– Explore the buy to let market

– Look for innovative products overseas, find an outlet in the UK

– Turn your hobby into a weekend service e.g photography

I feel that some of these tiny nudges can get us thinking more entrepreneurially. The markets in the UK are desperately trying to encourage more traders and we should not over look them as the training ground for the next generation of entrepreneurs – maybe feels a bit Del Boy and Rodney but from humble beginnings big things can result.

After all you only need to look at the Sunday Times Rich list and I know for a fact a number of them built their fortune starting from a market stall.

Big Goals – Small Nudges Will Get You There

16/08/2012

Many individuals have big goals but only few put in the energy and effort to attain them. Why is this? Actions speak louder than words and to be grounded for a second, big goals can sometimes feel like an awesome undertaking. That’s when the goal just remains a dream.

Breaking the £1m revenue target, implementing a new quality system, opening up that new export market or whatever it means to you needs careful planning and iteration.

Patience, routine, trial and error and action are important contributors to passing across the finishing line – you just can’t leap to the end point, that’s why so many just give up.

So what tools can we use to assist us get what we want? I was inspired by the story of what made GB Cycling world class and the envy of other nations . Their coach referred to the “aggregation of marginal gains” as being central to their success. In other words small improvements that all add up to a magnificent performance.

My interpretation of this is:

1. Be clear about what it is you are looking to achieve and and nail a measure and timescale to it

2. Put in place the plan of the milestones and improvements that need to be reached and by when

3. Train like crazy and put in the activity needed to get there – KpI’s (that awful term –  but paramount to monitoring where you are – be clear on what they are as well)

The GB Cycling philosophy of marginal gains can be of massive use to us in business. The key lesson is that small nudges in the right direction delivers a winning result. Get on your bike and pedal  – if you fall off, get back on and pedal faster!


Having an ability to put in a long shift

13/08/2012

This was the answer the Yorkshire Post Sports editor gave to the BBC journalists question, why have such a large proportion of Team GB medals been won by Yorkshire athletes? This viewpoint seemed to be backed up by many medalists interviewed on TV over the past few weeks. There are no short cuts to success emerged as a strong and reoccurring theme. Natural talent obviously plays an important role in winning; however, it can also dangerously lead to complacency. Putting in the hours and making sacrifices to get what you want out of life seems to be a sound piece of advice. My experience is that ambitious individuals, who chase big goals, make choices not sacrifices, this may seem like a play on words but the former is a more positive way of viewing the world. Thinking that you are giving something up can lead to negative consequences. However, delaying gratification for a bigger purpose can be extremely motivating. This fusion of graft, mindset and talent wrapped up in personal discipline all contribute to the Success Factor.

A great piece over the weekend by BBC presenter Matthew Syed (sportsman and author of a great book, Bounce) explored how the way you think is just as important as training. The short programme looked at the mindset of success and interviewed a number of iconic Olympians. They told their story of how they developed a ruthless fitness routine in parallel with a programme of getting themselves in the right mental state when it came to competition. The difference between winning and losing often lies in the mind, this was a really powerful statement made by one of the contributors. What sat at the heart of this short documentary was the power of self belief – if you don’t believe you can, then your probably right.

Words of wisdom were provided by Sir Steve Redgrave – don’t try and control the things you have no power to control, focus on what you can control. In other words the ability to control your own performance is all that matters – that means fitness, training programme, health and diet and the way you think. Yourself is the only thing you can truly control. Once you have mastery over yourself, then the winning can begin. We can apply this thinking in enterprise – the biggest difference in the world of business is, there are no medals for coming second. You either win or lose an order.

As we say in our office BYC  – Believe you Can. Not a bad way of starting any competition, whether that be sporting or business, pretty much the same.

 


Think…….

02/08/2012

This was the headline of an advert in yesterday’s Financial Times, it was placed by the Qatar Foundation (www.qf.org.qa – unlocking human potential). It summed up wonderfully what I have been recommending to ambitious entrepreneurs on a mission to build a business. All too often individuals fail to create space to think, instead they embark on a crusade of activity with no direction – they fail to think it through. This can be extremely dangerous as chasing around like the proverbial headless chicken quite commonly leads to making decisions later regretted. Here is some fantastic wisdom for those of you running a business (its taken directly from the advert – it’s really powerful and very thought-provoking)

Few things possess more Power than a Thought

Because a Thought has the potential to become something significant. To solve something meaningful. And to inspire us to achieve great things.

What makes a Thought so powerful is that it can be created by anybody. At anytime. From anywhere.

That’s why Thinking should be encouraged and nurtured in all its forms. No matter how small. Or how impossibly grand.

Because wherever Thinking happens, Big ideas follow. Minds become enlightened. Knowledge grows. And people discover new ways to unlock their potential.

So start Thinking

Innovation is driven by the power of creative thought, experience shows that it is in those quite moments of contemplation that breakthroughs occur – a new product idea, new market or solution to an existing problem. It worked for Archimedes when he got in the bath (Eureka) and Isaac Newton when he was sitting beneath an apple tree contemplating the universe.

Thinking is the precursor for strategy development and innovation. Balancing thinking with doing can deliver quantum shifts in performance – it also delivers clarity, one that so many entrepreneurs claim they lack for their business.