10/02/2012

By Lara Morgan, Founder Of Pacific Direct

I’m continually surprised at how many businesses are run off a naive ‘we will work it out’ attitude without putting in the real effort to overcome obstacles. It disappoints me to see so many people with so little dynamism, passion and gumption – or, more importantly, who are so lacking in self-confidence. To state the obvious, bags of self-confidence are required in setting up and running a business. The faster you apply that confidence, the faster you will accumulate profit.

It’s amazing – priceless in my opinion – the advantage which businesses can gain if their people just ask those with more knowledge and experience rather than pretending that they know everything. There are a lot of people in this world who want to go directly from A to B but they’re terrified to ask directions for how to get there. I ask and ask, and I keep asking. Yes, be memorable, be different, be self-confident and committed – I believe it’s better to be remembered (politely) than to have never made an impression at all – but I hope that on my gravestone someone will print the words, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

This gumption and lack of fear of a little embarrassment – or perhaps the endless practice I have put into overcoming the fact that I’ve made a fool of myself – have enabled me to speed up all sorts of demands, not least asking directions to somewhere. In business the ability to ask experts is priceless. Often those around you have exactly the answer you are looking for – so don’t delay, ask.

In my view, getting a literal head start is vital in business. When I started Pacific Direct, I used to pack all my sewing kits into my car earlier than the crack of dawn, shoot down to London from Bedford, and make all my own deliveries almost before my competitors were out of bed. I’d be delivering kits to the back of the Dorchester at the same time as the kitchens were taking in the fresh fish. That early start meant I beat the traffic and by the time the competition got to their desks, I was on my first selling appointment of the day. I’d used my time as efficiently and effectively as possible, and I had that precious head start. I’m every bit as much a believer in the value of this tactic today.

Standing still is not an option if speed is what you want, as other businesses are already overtaking you in the race to succeed. In fact, constantly living in the fear that others are overtaking should keep you on your toes, so stop messing about and have a go. For me, time is money. If I need a piece of information I think about how I’m going to get what I need as quickly as possible and I go for it. I’m going to do it in the most effective and efficient way, irrespective of pride. And if I believe that the most effective and efficient way is to be humble enough to say ‘show me’ or ‘tell me how’, then I will do that.

You need to do something and you can’t afford to wait around, so just do it. The personal triumph comes in the rewards of what you learn along the way. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made, but nine times out of ten you hold the advantage because knowledge is power. Knowledge, like money, doesn’t grow on trees.

The above was extracted from More Balls Than Most by Lara Morgan (www.companyshortcuts.com) and published by Infinite Ideas (www.infideasbooks.com)