Friday May 28, 2021
This is a big one. No flashy intros, let's get right into it.
1. It's not always the big things that will nickel and dime you.
Running a business is expensive. Which is ironic when you consider most companies work for profit. Whatever profit model, whatever practice, business building is a high-market, high-investment endeavor. If it isn't capital it's labor, if it isn't labor it's design, if it isn't design it's finance, around and around.
The costliest thing in business is just being out of your zone.
I mean the space where you're being your best, most productive self. This goes for you, your employees. An overload of distraction, lack of direction, these are the inroads that will take you off the rails left unchecked. Running a business more than anything requires consistency.
Something I often say in business is Details Matter. Most people in the business world stay pretty concentrated on tasks nearly all the time. It's very important to maintain schedules and give confirmations or things can get disorganized fast.
I talk a fair bit about how verbal communication is inefficient. It's true, especially when you're trying to get five people or more all doing different things in rhythm. You have to be instructive and you have to know well in advance how to set each person up for success. Having a mentor helps, the lesson is not likely to sink in unless you experience it.
2. You don't need a degree to start a business.
Seriously, you just don't. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all famously dropped out of college to begin their seperate enterprises during the boom of Silicon Valley (Harvard famously called Bill Gates their "Most Successful Dropout"). We tend to look to these figures and think of them as exceptions to the rule, right place, right time. They are, but it doesn't change the facts.
CNBC Profiled that of all American businesses, 26% of owners reported they had attained a bachelor's degree. 17% reported they went to college for a period of time. Almost 40 Percent responded they had never gone to College at all.
A seperate survey reports about a 60/40 split. Some have, some don't. The figures aren't firm, but they do reveal millions of businesses run by individuals without college certifications.
Fact is, many businesses require employees to possess college degrees, almost 40% of successful business owners don't.
In business, what carries weight more than education are ideas and work ethic. Companies run on doing.
3. Easy Come, Easy Go
People, money, employees, it can happen for lots of reasons and it does happen, but it's not what I'm getting at. One of the most common and defeated expectations I see among business owners is the expectation that their companies will be carrying weight off the ground and finding success within a year, and it's very often rarely the case. That kind of breakout success is the exception to the rule.
The vast majority of new businesses, close to 90%, do not succeed within one year.
And it should be counted, overnight success does not always translate into long-term returns. That remaining 10% is littered throughout the years with businesses which grew into fast successes to fail within 4 or 5 years.
"Unicorn" growth is not indicative of long-term success, slow development is not indicative that a business won't succeed.
In a seperate blog, we investigated some of the healthy ways business owners can self-assess in the early days of their businesses. It's always important to consider your industry, your model, your product. Weighing things out is how little failures turn into little successes into big results.
In my time in business I've started 10 companies. Most were not explosive overnight success stories, but many have succeeded. Some have thrived. Running small business today is something I train people to do.
4. Having a Problem is not the same as Knowing What The Problem Is.
"What happened" "It's broken" is the programmer's raison d'etre. We write a bit of code and then we fix and fix and fix and fix until we've fixed something into existence. Coding is solving problems.
In coding, it's incredibly simple for a machine to tell you that something is broken, it's up to the human element to care about the why of it. There's a generation out there of people who respond to things not working with a shocking amount of superstition. Superstition has rarely, if ever, fixed anything.
It's impossible to say that business owners aren't constantly learning, because to run a business is to constantly find solutions to problems. Other people's problems and your own. To get good at business you get really, really good at solving problems and you get fast at it.
Step one is learning to identify what a problem is. Problems have a habit of sticking around if you don't get in the habit of finding the right way to approach them. It takes a necessary amount of honesty, with yourself and - sometimes - with your own intelligence. You'll stretch your brain out and pull together bits of information and find avenues you didn't know were right in front of you.
5. Effort beats Insight.
Plain and simple.
There's a saying which goes "If you have knowledge and do not apply it, you might as well not have known the thing at all". All the wisdom in the world cannot overcome inaction. In my book, I've learned sometimes it's better to go in accepting there will be mistakes than to try and always assure that I am prepared.
Do a little, fix a little, do a little, fix a little more. Do and fix and fix and do and you'll be on to something.
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