Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

What Decisive People Know About Success that You Don’t

Which is better - drilling down to perfect your idea before execution or getting a solid plan outlined then acting on it? Just about everyone knows that a plan is essential for success, but as General George S. Patton, Jr. said, “a good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Since business, like battles, rarely goes according to plan, in a planning versus performance face-off, default to performance.What Decisive People Know About Success that You Don’t

Remember in grade school when the teacher asked a question and you were brimming with enthusiasm to answer, squirming in your chair until called on to speak? Now think about how bad you felt when that answer was wrong. Is it any wonder that after a few times getting crushed by giving an incorrect answer you became much more skittish about speaking up unless you were absolutely sure you were right? Unfortunately, that lesson works against your success in business.

Patrick Lencioni argues that clarity about your plan is more important than perfecting it. Especially when working with a team, success comes from each member being clear about his part. Tom Hopkins says you should “put a little GOYA into your daily routine.” What is GOYA? Get Off Your Backside (polite word for Anatomy.)

Even if it turns out you made the wrong decision or had a bad plan, the experience and information you will gain by executing it will help you make adjustments as you move forward. You can only get to your goal by taking action. In most cases, as long as the next two or three steps are reasonably clear, you do not need to see a well-defined path all the way to your objective to get there.

Get moving, encounter obstacles, push beyond them. After a while, look back. You will be amazed how far you have come.

Question – How do you know when a plan you have formed is ready for execution?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

Take the Plunge: Action = Improvement and Success

“You know Facebook? Well, I had the same idea way before Zuckerberg.” I bet you have heard someone make a similar claim. So if it is true, the person is worth $1 billion, right?

Take the Plunge: Action = Improvement and Success

When I started my first business too often I found competitors had gotten clients I wanted. After a short time, I realized that I was spending too much time preparing. I needed to act, even though my scripts and skills were not perfect. Here is the rub. Even when I thought I was properly prepared, frequently I found the situation going in an unanticipated direction, making many of my preparations useless. I finally realized that I was placing too much emphasis on each potential client rather than on the process itself. In reality, there are always more prospects.

There are only three states of mind in business: we are sure we are ready, we are uncertain about our state of preparedness, or we know we are not prepared. We have to be careful not to use the last two as excuses to procrastinate. Preparation can be an infinitely long process. How do you avoid this pitfall? Here are some steps:

  1. Prepare by improving skills so you can work the process better – If you want to be successful in business you have to be superior to your competition. If you want to make money in sales you have to learn to prospect.
  2. Remember the perfect is the enemy of the good and of moving forward – Perfection is an illusion. For example, do not be fooled into thinking that if you wait until you are in the right frame of mind you will prospect better. Most of business is a numbers game: the more people with whom you interact the more successful you will be. Consistently acting will get you closer to perfection than any other thing you can do.
  3. Unless you are certain more preparation is crucial, ACT! NOW! – Not sure you are ready. Move forward. You will never figure out if you are ready by waiting. Think your sales script needs improvement? The only way to know is to work it. Are people ready for your fantastic business idea? You will have to take a leap of faith at some point to find out. No amount of research will be conclusive.

Question: What do you do to prod yourself to take action?

The Secret Fountainhead of Great Ideas

Ideas can come from any source at any time. The key is to be open to them and to have a system for writing them down so you do not forget them.

The Secret Fountainhead of Great Ideas

Walking down a street in downtown Los Angeles on my way to the gym in 1980, I met a street person who started talking to me. He asked about me and I told him I was studying architecture at USC. Launching into a virtual tirade, he professed vexation that architects did not consider innovative projects. Then he told me about a church on lower Market Street in San Francisco that had burned down and was trying to rebuild by developing a mixed-use project. His description was so detailed I decided to check it out. Two weeks later a fellow student and I had been hired by the church’s pastor to create a preliminary design.

Ben Zoma, a distinguish 2nd century student, said, “Who is a wise man? He who learns from every man.” A powerful business idea, a lead to a new client, or a new approach for improving our relationships are out there if we will restrain our egos, engage in conversations with people, and share a little about ourselves.

  • If your first inclination is to ignore someone, think a second time. Maybe the person has something valuable to say.
  • Just listen. Hear the person out uncritically.
  • Always keep a small notebook or stack of file cards and a pen with you, especially next to your bed.
  • When inspiration strikes, write it down IMMEDIATELY! If an idea escapes, you will probably never catch it again.

Being open to people who do not seem to have any importance or with whom we may disagree can be challenging, but often yields enormous rewards.

Question: What techniques do you use to overcome mental roadblocks?

Want Success? Fail More!

Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, though in truth he improved an invention that had been around for 50 years. Perhaps he gets the glory because he failed almost 10,000 times before he found a way that worked. When asked if he felt like a failure, supposedly Edison responded that he had never failed, rather he found 9,000 ways that did not work. True or not, this story has a vital message for anyone striving to succeed.

Want Success? Fail More!

When I started my real estate company in 1986 I thought success would be a breeze. Two years later, I had found lots of ways not to make money. In one case, I negotiated an agreement so poorly that I lost out on over $20,000 of income I badly needed. So I came up with a philosophy for any time I lost a significant deal: I figured I had bought myself a class or semester at the Wharton School of Business. By learning from my failures I never had to spend what a degree from Wharton would have cost.

Fear of failure means we are losing out on:

  • Discovering ways to be more successful in the future
  • Knowing when and how to be flexible
  • More chances to expand our businesses

If someone tells you he never loses a sale he has found the fountain of youth (very unlikely), he makes few or no sales (you cannot lose something you never try to have), or he never takes a chance on a less than perfect, pre-sold prospect. Which would you rather have: 10% of 1000 prospects buying from you or 100% of 50? Is not the first option twice as good?

Here are five steps to turn failure into success:

  1. Find out why the person said no
  2. If the no is valid, move on
  3. If there is a credible response to the objection, give it
  4. Use the information on the lost sale to improve your skills
  5. Ask for referrals from the prospects who turned you down

We do not need to be a genius like Edison to know transforming failure into success is in our hands

How have you used a failure to move you forward?

Please comment below ↓


Military Doctrine Guiding Business Planning

One of the many advantages veterans enjoy in entrepreneurship is the doctrine we learned during our years of service. And while part of the vocabulary of warfighting is inappropriate to civilian business, still the concepts can be quickly adapted to give us direction as we start and run our companies.

Rabs in Marine Corps Cammies

For example, Marine Corps doctrine on warfighting recognizes three levels of war

  1. Strategic – the art of winning wars by establishing goals, assigning forces, providing assets, and imposing conditions on the use of force.
  2. Operational – the art and science of winning campaigns, it links the strategic and tactical levels, including deciding when, where, and under what conditions to engage the enemy.
  3. Tactical – the art and science of winning engagements through the concepts and methods used to accomplish a particular mission and achieve the objectives of the campaign.

So how do we translate these ideas to business planning? The same three levels apply:

  1. Strategic – This is our business idea, mission statement, and goals. Also, it is our evaluation of the types of expertise our business requires, especially those we do not have ourselves, and the capital and equipment we need to be successful.
  2. Operational – This is our assessment of the profile of the clients or customer with whom we are most likely to be successful, where we can come in contact with them, the timing of our marketing efforts, and how we can set the stage to be most effective in attracting their patronage.
  3. Tactical – This is our step-by-step plan through which we will act to obtain these clients or customers.

For example, when I decided to go back into business, initially I worked at the strategic level. I assessed my skills, researched business ideas, and gauged the market for them and their chances of success. Having selected the one I wanted to pursue I developed my mission statement and goals and determined funding and other materials I needed to move forward.

Having clarified my strategic thinking, my planning shifted to the operational level. While my main clientele, veterans and service members, was obvious, less so were the individuals through whom I could expand my reach to them. Through networking, I found people who help veterans transition to civilian life, then planned how and where I could contact others in the same positions and stay in touch with them. Next, I set a calendar for my marketing effort. As I formed my plans at the operational level I periodically reviewed my strategic plans to ensure I was heading in the right direction but also to decide if my strategy needed to be revised.

Once my operational plan was fairly well developed I created materials, scripts, and email and telephone lists of the people I needed to contact and started doing so. Did my materials motivate them to act from the get go? Did my scripts immediately convince them of the greatness of my program? No and no. Indeed my early presentations were as much about refining my tactics as they were about persuading people to help me. I revised my tactics, periodically reviewed my operational plan in light of the overall response to my marketing effort, and shifted my strategy as the assets I had available changed.

At each stage of planning, I wrote down the major points and the reasoning supporting these decisions. As I move forward, I use my version of another Marine Corps doctrine, maneuver warfare (which I will talk about in another post) to continually appraise my success and make adjustments at all three levels.

So take the doctrine of your branch of the military and adapt it to your business planning. If you are not a veteran, take a look at the Marine Corps doctrine.

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