Redefining your success story in business…do whatever it takes?!
Life is a journey and by choosing ‘business’ as your vehicle of choice may prove to be the ultimate challenge, especially in the current South African economic reality! Some interesting facts about the current economic reality is that there are 5,6 million SMME’S in South Africa of which 3,3 million can be regarded as ‘survivalist businesses’… they are barely surviving, cash flow is poor, and they often depended on overdraft facilities to meet short and medium term liabilities.
According to the Small Business Association of South Africa, 30% of new businesses fail in first 2 years, 50% fail during the first 5 years and 66% fail during the first 10 years. Even more alarming is that the majority of new businesses do not turn a profit until 3rd year! Adding to this current economic reality, is an unemployment level of 27,2%. A number that will surely be rising with corporate companies down-sizing and filing for business rescue. Examples such as Standard Bank that has announced their plans to cut around 1,200 jobs and close 91 branches as part of efforts to digitise its retail and business bank. In March this year the construction giant, Group Five, suspended trade after 45 years, filed for bankruptcy protection, making it the 5th local builder to enter into business rescue in less than a year.
In working with business owners as a business coach, I have come to realise that there are certain differentiating factors that significantly increase a business person’s probability of success in business.
Some of these differentiating factors are:
Mindset and personal self-mastery A winning mindset in business refers to the ability of an individual to become pro-active by visualizing a desired future. Taking the time to reflect on important questions about one’s life, personal goals on health, wealth, family, happiness, success and leaving a legacy.
As in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit #1, to become pro-active, habit #2, to start with the end in mind and then focus on first things first (habit #3). Personal self-mastery and daily discipline results in focus, high levels of energy and achievement. I have also come to admire individual business owners that have courage, show leadership and a coachable nature…asking questions.This in turn relates into being open to learning, advice, mentorship and coaching.
I agree without any doubt with Keith Cunningham in his latest best seller, The Road Less Stupid, where he states the following: “There is no such thing as a natural business owner. Successful business owners and entrepreneurs are not born with an innate set of skills that produces business excellence and success. Great business owners work hard, practice, study, test, think, correct and practice some more” (pg. 5)
Mastery at business skills, strategic growth planning, disciplined implementing and continuous measurement: Deciding to choose start a business and become a business owner is a second profession! It takes a couple of minutes to register a business online, open a bank account and print some business cards, instantly a business owner!
In reality becoming a successful business owner requires the same level of investment in time and money to guarantee any degree of sustainable success than any other profession. Add to this the reality of the current economic reality, sound business skills and knowledge becomes a critical requirement for any level of success at the game of business. In the words of Brad Sugars, CEO and Founder of ActionCOACH, “deciding to enter into a coaching program or to appoint a business mentor or coach is no longer a matter of choice but a necessity”.
The next critical element to success in business is thinking, reflecting, planning and implementing specific growth strategies. This requires brutal, painstaking honesty – Where are we now? Where do we want to go? What are some of our future desired outcomes?
Creating a business strategy starts by identifying point A (point A) and point B (desired future) and the perceived gap in between. Potential obstacles preventing any progress moving forward, the resources needed to progress as well as a relevant scorecard that will measure any progress made.
Sustained success requires strategy with:
clarity on a reality, obstacle or problem.
a plan to overcome the obstacle.
a structure for the allocation of resources.
prioritizing of time and activities.
an analysis of risk. (Keith Cunningham, The Road Less Stupid, pg. 281)
In years past, as business coach I have been working with business owners to establish some of these fundamentals. A continuous process that calls for focus, assessment, learning, discussion, honesty and accountability.
In summary, to become successful in life and in business is not a linear line and does not happen overnight! It takes hours of hard work, dedication, focus, perseverance, agility and so much more.
Success and how one defines success, is deeply personal. It takes some thinking, clarity on the underlying reasons for wanting to embark on a certain journey with a business, understanding that ‘failure’ is as much part of the process as achieving goals… in closing be careful about who one takes advice from. Whose voice are you listening to? Is this advice ‘free of charge’? Free advice is most often very dangerous and not always in one’s own best interest.
In the words of one of my coaching clients after a coaching session, I asked what value the person got from the coaching slot and this was his response: “I have come to realize that without a coach, I would have paid a much higher price for business success and it would have taken me far longer… the additional cost in time and money that no sensible, serious business owner can afford.”
Dear Business Owner, if any of the above ideas were of any interest to you or you feel a need or curiosity to discuss any challenges you might have in business, I invite you to make contact with me…let us sit down and have a chat…?