The face of business: Do you have the mind-set for success?


Face of business pic

Finally your dream or vision has become a reality, after all the efforts - finding the funds, negotiating with suppliers, securing the perfect premises and hammering the last nail in laying the foundations, you finally open the launch doors to customers and take a deep breath. The champagne seems to taste more superb and the bubbles heighten your accomplishment into a dizzying feeling of unreal reality. Well done, you’ve finally done it!

But wait… you’ve only just made it to the start line, the race has only just begun. Are you prepared for what’s ahead?

Is it sheer determination, pot luck or a serious strategy that will transform an idea or a dream into a commercial success?

In the UK, more than half a million new businesses were registered with Companies House in 2013. In the US, this is just the average per month! Sounds promising to the budding entrepreneur, but opening a business is just that, it’s a start. What’s startling, according to Forbes, is there are more businesses that close per month than open in the US. While in the UK, the birth and death rate of businesses were equally 11% in 2012, cancelling new business growth figures with the exception of London, retaining 3% according to the House of Commons Business Statistics report.

Are these percentages just facts and figures reflecting the norm in the world of businesses, or do they highlight the lack of business acumen required to sustain a company?  Perhaps it is just the survival of the fittest according to Darwin’s theories. In which case how would this explain London’s higher retention rate with such a highly competitive environment? Could the key therefore be competition? In a competitive environment, we’re forced to look at our competitors, admire them for what they are doing well and take a look at how we can gain competitive advantage. If your business is not competitive, is the current business model still relevant for your intended market?

I’m often surprised by some of the comments I hear from emerging and established businesses alike, they are either struggling to get off the ground or leaning towards the black hole. What they have in common, is locked tunnel vision, an inability to break out of the mind-set, that prevents them from being able to take a step back and critically evaluate the situation that will allow thought for alternative options. How can you break free?

Here is an exercise to try, take a moment to think about what you would do:

You’re navigating your way through the jungle to a designated meeting point, when you come across a murky river. There is a rope bridge, but there is no way that the cart you’re wheeling would go over it. You could swim, but the cart may sink and there is a high chance of crocodiles in the river. You’re losing time, what are your options?

While there may be many creative options, you will probably be thinking how you can maximise utility and perhaps weighting that against the opportunity cost. Meaning, how to cross the river with your cart, without losing any limbs thereby maximising utility by devising a solution.

The time spent devising the solution may incur a penalty, therefore is the cart worth saving or do you just take what’s important? This is the opportunity cost, and becomes the decision to streamline or adapt in order to continue as planned.

More importantly, thinking in this way is known as critical thinking, it allows us to evaluate and weigh options, sometimes even coming up with solutions that didn’t seem possible before. It can mean you have found a differentiator for your business that will give you the competitive edge, but it allows you to assess your competitive environment and understand where your business is positioned in that environment to then understand what your business needs to do to survive. 

The main quality I see with all successful business operators is their ability to continually think! Better, bigger, strategically, but most importantly, positively! It can be done.

A challenge is an obstacle that just needs navigating through, it’s only a challenge until it’s broken down through preparation and conquered, and then it’s an accomplishment.

In other words:

A challenge is an achievement waiting to happen. 

 Best Wishes, Felicity