Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thoughts on why things sometimes go well...

Fortunately, in the ebbs and flows of life, things will sometimes go well--perhaps extremely well.   And when they do, the tendency is to focus on the success itself, basking in the validation and accolades that often accompany such things.

There may be good reasons for this.  If you're a successful business owner or entrepreneur, chances are you had to overcome plenty of obstacles, including all the naysayers and others who refused to believe in your vision.  So to finally realize your dreams and experience that sense of accomplishment is a powerful feeling.  Taking time to consider well the fundamental principles that got you to that point is essential.

When I think back on the successful businesses I've had, I can see several things that I believe they all shared.  So here are a few of my top rules for success:

  1. Stay within your area of expertise.  Years of preparation and plenty of actual experience in the trenches were essential foundations on which I could build.  
  2. Test and prove the model before trying to expand.  Find your model and get it right--first.  Then grow.  That seems simple enough, but I've seen plenty of entrepreneurs violate that principle, and most have lived to regret it.
  3. Get the culture right from the beginning.  Startups are hard.  Everyone pays a steep price.  People put in long hours as they "live the dream".  It's during these formative stages that the true culture of an enterprise takes shape.  Start with "why" and lead by example.  Turning around a bad culture is incredibly difficult and painful.  Getting it right in the beginning pays dividends for a long time.
  4. Take nothing for granted.  Not your partners, nor your employees, and especially not your customers.  Express appreciation for those fellow soldiers who are likewise making sacrifices and contributions.  You'll need them when things get rough--and they will.
  5. Alignment.  Every successful business I've ever had has exhibited high degrees of alignment--between the company and it's customers, among senior management, and throughout the organization.  Where there is alignment, there is high levels of trust, and trust is the lubricant that allows an organization to run fast, run hard, and grow properly.
I'm sure there may be more I could add to my list, but those would definitely be among my top attributes of successful ventures.

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