At some stage in many a person’s life, even if it’s only fleetingly, they will consider running their own business. For some people it remains a pipe dream. For others they attempt a business half heartedly only for it to fall onto the dustbin heap of great ideas. For others, although they are tenacious in trying to get their business idea to take off, they never seem to make any headway.
Only a very few manage to get past the critical 3 – 5 year point and become an established business that manages to sustain a living and, if they get it right, it becomes a vehicle to their fortune. The question is what separates these people who achieve their prize from those who fall by the wayside? I have four guiding principles by which I think anyone seriously considering running a business should measure their intent: Passion, Focus, Jeopardy and Understanding Success.
I once shared a platform with Martha Lane Fox of Lastminute.com fame. We were all invited to put forward our ideas about what we believe is essential in being successful - mine is Passion. After my talk Martha said that as far as she was concerned passion was much over rated which threw me a bit as I believe it is fundamental if you are to stand a chance of succeeding in any business venture. The number one reason why people don't succeed in business is fear. Once you have allowed fear to get hold of you, it will drag you under. And as far as I am concerned there is only one antidote to fear and that is passion. Passion will help you get over the very many hurdles that will be put in your way, to get by the doubters and the doom-mongers. If you don’t have passion, fear will block your path.
The reason why people do not achieve their dreams in life is because they lack focus. The more focussed you are, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Real focus means that you can recognise and block out things that are irrelevant and distracting. We just need to look at the sports industry. If there is one thing that all great sports men and women have in common, it is their ability to achieve absolute focus. The lesson that we, as business people, can learn from this is that focus is not a physical discipline, it is a state of mind.
In order to function as a society there are procedures and processes in place that allow us to operate effectively and maintain the status quo. But it is the change-makers who are prepared to challenge those processes and procedures so that we can progress and grow. Just because something has been done in a particular way for decades doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be, or how it is best to be. Great ideas that facilitate man’s great leap forward require this type of thinking and challenge, and to be able to embrace this type of thinking we need to allow jeopardy into our thinking and lifestyle. So allow yourself to start on your business journey without pre-set and pre-conceived parameters, just be guided by the desire to change and grow.
Very often starting a business is a reaction to something, most commonly a redundancy or a change in personal circumstances. As a result, we want to control our own destiny and for our personality to be the driving force behind whatever we are doing. But when asked the question: “how will you know if you are successful” most people cannot answer. I believe this can be why many businesses end up as lifestyle businesses, because the business becomes a way of facilitating a lifestyle instead of focusing on building an empire or something to hand down to your family. As far as I am concerned it is very important that before you start a business you need to have a clear idea about what is the purpose of the business and what would success look like. It doesn’t matter what the answer is, it just gives you an objective. A business without objectives will definitely struggle.