Your Business – An “asset” or “calling”


It never ceases to amaze me how passionate and animated entrepreneurs become when they talk about their business and what they do. To those listening it can come across as “in your face”, however, the reality is, most founders are just so proud of what they have achieved. Business and personal time are inextricably linked feeding each off every minute of the day.

The successful high growth entrepreneurs I have worked with often started their business because of a “calling” – this means putting something right, fixing a problem, chasing a dream of freedom, pursue a passion, wanting to make a difference or proving to others they can achieve something quite amazing.

So many entrepreneurs often forget that their business is also an asset with value. The danger is when the founders view their company solely as an asset. This creates inward focused strategies, lack of customer focus, greed, ultimately this will lead to only one place  – a disconnection with the real world and decline. My advice is when the voice of the “calling”  gets overshadowed by the asset, its time for rethink. A danger zone is just around the corner. Its about balance, of course a business must generate wealth, however it works far better and in my view becomes more profitable when its game plan is linked to a purpose.

That feeling of doing what you do because it makes a difference to others is probably one of the best you can have in your career, long may it last!

Smart Operator – High Growth Individuals


Recent economic challenges have placed serious pressure on people to think very differently. Business as usual is not an option, its time for something completely different. Cuts in public and private sector budgets have taken their toll – redundancies, lost revenue, projects going on hold…the story goes on. So what’s the answer? Manage decline and depression or look for the opportunities. As one delegate at an event I spoke at the other week put it….”recession, I have decided not to participate”. A very refreshing approach and outlook, the very opposite to the doom and gloom the media encourages us to embrace.

The answer is to practice and develop the Smart Operator Mindset – this ultimately leads to the creation of the high growth individual. We should draw parallels from the world of enterprise and create our own personal business plan, one that maps out a destination with the prioritized tasks to get us there. Here are some pointers for the Smart Operator Mindset:

1. Smart Proposition – define your unique talents, what you love doing, what you want, what gets out of bed. Aligning a future to a basic purpose really does help to accelerate the way forward.

2. Smart Vision – write down your personal intentions for 6 months, 1 year, and 2-years. Base this on your Smart Proposition. Include earnings and other components that make up the life you want

3. Smart Plan – remember a vision without tactics is hallucination. List the things you need to do and get on with it. The right path will emerge when activity is initiated.  Avoid procrastination. Set yourself KPI’s to check whether you are on track.

4. Smart Brand – you are selling yourself, so work out what mental imprints you want to leave on those you meet. Be memorable, deliver on your promises and become the master of your trade. This is what you will become known for.

5. Smart Collaborator – work out who you need to engage and team up with. Alliances and partnerships are a critical part of the Smart Operators DNA.

6. Smart Communicator – master the art of getting messages across, think win-win and live in the world of your audience. Clarity and concise messages that considers both your needs and those of others lead to positive relationships that go somewhere.

7. Smart Connector – work out a plan for finding, reaching and locking into to those individuals and organisations that are important to your personal progression. The connectors and influencers could include suppliers, banks, associates, partners, customers, other departments.

Practice makes perfect, another cliché that I hate, but its true. As Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become successful, so that means blood, sweat and tears, I still don’t think there are any short cuts to getting want you want. A combination of being really good at what you love doing, combined with taking ownership of your life fused with determination and persistence help pave the way forward. The Smart Operator Mindset is a framework for you to hang your thinking on.


The Power of Focus


The ability to remain focused is a key ingredient for anyone who aspires to achieving more. All too often we can be side tracked by ideas or pet projects that don’t contribute in any way to the personal intentions we have chosen to pursue. When presented with set backs or difficult situations that require attention it can be easier to default to tasks that are hassle free or easier to fulfil.

Pet projects often come in the way of achieving what we want. Always remind yourself of:

“Must do” – what are the activities vital to accomplishing your intentions? Implementation must involve doing the things that directly align to your ambitions and desires. By keeping a journal or completing a daily to do list you remain focused on the critical essentials. Such simplicity ensures clarity remains the priority. Your direction becomes very clear and success prevails

“Nice to do”- most of us will be clear on what is required for success. However, all too often we get distracted by more enjoyable activities, equally we can we tempted to pursue things that require less effort.  Pursing nice to do projects will move you away from what you set out to achieve, they divert energy and you lose focus. Continuous attention on the wrong things will lead to ineffective performance. You will delay the process of success or as a worst case never get to the destination. Too many people become very easily distracted and forget what is important.

Be aware of what you are doing, keeping asking yourself – is what I am doing going to give me what I want? – Such consciousness allows you to do away with non value added activities. Time is the most precious commodity for anyone who wants to achieve more. Thinking in the must do nice to do way will help you to do the right things at the right time. Momentum results from focusing on the activities critical to success. Don’t be distracted.


Pushing yourself to be better


I spent a couple of days last week working with a number of potential partners on a large overseas project we are looking to get involved with. This group of complementary businesses got around the table to explore ways of working, new ideas, possible initiatives along with how to make the planned initiative a massive success. What struck me about these individuals was that they were best in class. It was a real privilege to be sat around the table because personally it tested me to new limits. It kept me on my toes and indeed stretched my own abilities. A truly worthwhile experience, probably the best “training course”, so to speak, I have been on for many years!

It led me to conclude that if you want to excel in your professional life then seek the opportunity of working with those people who will take you to new limits. The experience will extend your comfort zone, teach you new skills and more importantly allow you to gain insight to how they think and operate. It should also fast track you to putting together a plan for personal improvement.  Define whom you believe to be the best in your field and find a way of getting to work with them. Seek to collaborate on a win –win basis. As part of this process you should do away with any personal pride issue or sense of undermining your own capability and explore – it’s about self-improvement and continuous learning. One fact is for sure, in markets as uncertain as they are at the moment, no one should be complacent or unwilling to pursue new ideas and thinking. Change is the only certainty and training/collaborating with the best can put you one step of the competition – it pushes you on to better yourself.

If you want to achieve greater success then align yourself to those who consistently out perform the rest. Be open in your approach to these people and ask them – Please can you help? Or please can I ask your advice? Can we collaborate on new opportunities? By asking in this way you are delivering a complement and acknowledging their expertise and achievement mindset. More often than not people are open to such an approach.

By training with the best you set intentions and expectations that lift your mindset to new levels of attainment. Individuals you train with are different to mentors – they are the sparing partners that you work with to develop and grow your skills on a real-time basis. If the person or organisation you want to work with views you as a potential threat the relationship will not work. Be honourable about your intentions and by no means use it to gain insights that would be of disservice to them – be clear, be up front – if a conflict of interest presents itself then walk away.

Raising our own personal bar becomes a key driver for personal and business growth. Getting into the Olympic squad certainly takes you to new limits.

Try to be flexible


Flexibility can improve your effectiveness in many different ways – reputation, building relationships and credibility to name but a few. Individuals that consider their way to be the only way can be extremely difficult to work with on both a professional and personal level. Going the extra mile will frequently require you to display alternative ways of working, one that does away with a single minded viewpoint. Your attitude of mind should be one that accommodates different perspectives to achieve the desired outcome.

We often value more our colleagues who are flexible – this is because they can understand our viewpoint, listen and then work with us to attain mutual satisfaction. If it is your intention to lead or win over the views of others, you must be flexible in your thinking, attitude and work style. In some instances this may feel uncomfortable. As you progress through life and your career, you will come across many different personalities success means that you may have to adapt your approach to suit the situation.

Be conscious of the way in which you interact with others – do you dismiss views too easily or do you embrace them?  Even if you do not agree frankness and openness with a respectful reason why, will demonstrate clearly a mindset of flexibility.

Flexibility is also an important element of an engaging personality, it involves being reasonable with an ability to bend your thinking whilst not compromising personal values, self control or composure. Do not subject yourself to the whims of others as this projects the image of being a yes person. When you are flexible you are able to take prompt action in acquiring opportunities. The openness of this mindset also attracts others to you because constantly saying no can be off putting and close doors that could otherwise be opened.