Being in business is about being unequivocally right every moment of every day.
Except when you aren’t.
Let’s think about this for a moment. When you start a business you are basically saying to the world that some idea that you came up with mostly off the top of your head is sufficiently interesting that people will pay you money in order to see it produced. Further, you believe that you will be able to make enough money to sustain you, your family and your employees, in fact, you believe you will be able to grow the money that you make from this idea year in and year out for the foreseeable future.
If you aren’t pretty darn sure that you are right, you would need to be on medication to follow through with something like this.
In order to survive in business you need to be right, all the time. You need to be certain that your vision is clear. You need to be certain that your revenue model is sound. You need to be sure that you have a marketing, promotions and growth plan which will allow you to maintain a positive cash flow. You need to be right about your risk of unforeseen crisis, and you need to be right about your responses to these crisis’. If any of these things go wrong, you will find yourself on the street.
The thing is and I hate to put this out there, more often than not, you are not going to start out right about any of these things.
And that is all a part of the game.
One of greatest lessons you can can learn as an entrepreneur is to always stick to your guns, except when you find out that you are out of bullets. The balance that you need to achieve when trying to build a successful business is between trusting that you are on the right track, and being willing to make broad, sweeping changes when it becomes apparent that things are going wrong.
When I say broad changes I mean exactly that. You need to look at your business with the cool, unbiased view of an outside observer and constantly ask yourself whether it makes any sense at all. If you discover one day that it doesn’t, you need to have the brass to hack it apart and stitch it back together into something that does, if only because it’s really hard to be right when what you are doing makes no sense at all.
On the flip side, you need to have the discipline to understand when a setback is just a setback and doesn’t signal a complete reversal in your business model.
Coming to grips with these two forces makes up the glue that holds great businesses together, and understanding how to is one of your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur.
Today’s contradictory message is brought to you by the letter C.
Seth Elliott says
You make some key points. I’d simply caveat by noting you can create formal review structures as an entrepreneur to help in this process.
By building processes to guard against incorrect assumptions, you can minimize the danger of pressing forward in the wrong circumstances. Specifically seek out second (and third and fourth) opinions about key assumptions for your critical decisions.
Entrepreneurs can create advisory boards with relevant domain expertise. Be certain your board members no that you want to use them as a sounding board – not merely as window dressing. Then actively solicit opinions – starting with “does this make sense?” Analyze the responses you get use them to generate additional specific questions.
Furthermore, when you decide on a course of action, pause to step back and question it. If you can, have personnel that were not directly involved in process review the data and proposed action. Encourage a people to play “devils advocate.” If you can’t address questions or concerns that arise in the process, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.
Justice wordlaw says
This is a very interesting post, something that needs to be seen by many and understood fully before you step in the lions cage of business. Great post!!
I think there is too much Meta Data on these kinds of views. This is clearly an issue that is not relevant at all. Of course there are contradictory views all over our thinking process. Of course you can smash things and collect the pieces or keep pushing it in. Of course you can just show up or drop out. Its a decision, period.
The think is that all you are saying is just Meta Data and it doesnt make a person judging a decision any more intelligent than before.
We are all stuck on Meta. Wake up.
I don’t think anyone could have posted that article unless they thought it was right.
Eloquently put. Thanks!
Great post Steve! What also helps, is to have a business with a team, even a small team, with someone who is always right. As long as there is constructive brainstorming happening that leads to tangible results, you can say there is success.
Monique Johnson says
Great post Steve!! I think starting a business takes a lot of guts… but it all starts with the belief in yourself, company, idea, and like you heavily stressed, the belief that YOU are RIGHT. What are some factors that can help someone distinguish a setback from the need of a complete reversal?