Today the date is 08.10.12 which has a bit of poetry to it. I don’t know what it is, but when the date makes a pattern, I look for some deeper meaning in the day. Today I learnt the secret of success from Donald Trump who was being interviewed by the BBC. “Love what you are doing and work hard!”
How many people love what they are doing and work their socks off yet success seems to invade them? Could it be that they really don’t love what they are doing? Or perhaps they only think they are working hard, when in actual fact they are not! Somehow I don’t think it is that simple. I get the sense that there is a third missing ingredients, something that everyone who is successful fails to tell you.
I think that ingredient is fortune, the lucky break or circumstances. It does make a difference when you work hard. Take today for example, lots of business owners are probably working significantly harder to get new business than the average business owner did during the boom years and are coming up empty-handed. Clearly circumstances do matter; so how do you get the best results out of really dire circumstances? I don’t have a conclusive answer, however, here are any few things that may help.
Find people who are already having some success and collaborate with them. Use them to get you the introductions and connections that you’re not getting by yourself and in return connect them to your networks and knowledge. The sum of the parts is always greater than the whole, if and it’s a big if, you approach it with a clear win-win outlook. Think “we are both in this together to get better, so how am I going to make it better for you?”
2. Create a success ladder
There are times when you can do that superhero thing and reach the top of the mountain in a single bound, such as if you happen to be in at the beginning of a paradigms shift in the market. Internet marketing at the “dawn” of the modern world wide web is an example of this; so is the life coaching bubble that took hold a few years back. Our elementary economic theory of super normal profits applies here. However in the tough times when marginal profits are erring on the side of >1, you need to create a success ladder to clearly see how each step moves you towards your ultimate goal. A success ladder is a series of milestones that lead you to your success. They can be big steps, or small ones and your ladder can be as short as 5 steps or a triple fold out ladder, that reaches the roof. The decision is yours. What’s most important is that you clearly identify the milestones you need to have achieved in order to be one rung closer to the top and head for that. Every day you asked yourself the question “what do I need to do today in order to be able to step on the next rung?” then do it. Success ladders provide clear focus and clear focus is one of the ingredients that make hard work productive.
3. Stay ahead of the knowledge
When times are tough, you need things that can give you the edge, i.e. make you stand out so that you become the preferred choice. Knowledge, as they say is power; if you stay up to date with the latest innovations in your industry you will be able to adapt and change faster than those who do not. Also, an amazing thing about being knowledgeable is that it helps you to innovate. The more you find out about what others are thinking and doing, the easier it becomes to see gaps in their processes and thinking. If you can identify gaps or a better way of doing something; you can potentially open up a whole new niche market for yourself. As an innovator you put yourself in the running for making those super normal profits that are present when a new product or market niche is created.
4. Be your customers’ best friend
Losing customers is always disheartening, but when times are tough, it can also have a devastating impact on your finances. In markets where buyers have ample choice, it is pointless to try and compete on price because there will always be someone who has more resources and is able to sustain a price war for longer than you can. The best strategy, whether in good or bad times, is to compete on service quality and benefits. Your aim should be to build such great relationships with your customers that they will be loyal to you even if someone tries to tempt them with a cheaper price. Today, social media make it a lot simpler to build good customer relationships. But remember customer service has to be as good in the real world as it is in cyberspace. Therefore, in addition to providing places for customers to engage with you and get access to useful information; you also need to deliver on time and quickly rectify things that go wrong.
5. Scale up and automate your operation as quickly as possible
If you’re going to work hard, then make sure that you are working smart at the same time. Anyone can work hard doing non-productive things. The people who get ahead work hard and smarter doing the most effective things that put them on the next rung of their success ladder. Working smarter means identifying the processes that you can automate or delegate so that you can spend more time doing activities that grow your business rather than simply running it. (By the way, having sufficient time to rest and recuperate is also a prerequisite for growing a great business).
Scaling up means looking for ways in which you can do more of what you are doing that works, without a corresponding rise in the cost of doing it. Working hard at the same level will give you the same results. Success in business comes when you can multiply what you do well.
So there you have it – just a few of the missing ingredients that I feel are omitted from the “love what you do and work hard” equation for success proposed by people like Donald Trump. I’m sure that if the interviewer had more time, Mr Trump would have mentioned a few of these, and perhaps some others too!
Do you have any missing ingredients to add? What other things have you found to be necessary in order to grow a successful business? Please join the discussion and share your views. I look forward to reading them.
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