As we continue to strive for a better life, at times in frustration and a feeling of helplessness, let us agree on one simple truth: where you are right now is of less consequence than where you are going from here. There is little that can be done to regain missed opportunities or retroactively correct the mistakes made in the past.
However, with an awareness of our shortcomings, willingness and commitment to change, we can learn from history and our past mistakes. We can also gain deep knowledge and wisdom from others, who have gone down the same path and beyond. This book honors those who have already achieved everything that they desire in life and in business, but is specifically written for those whose aspirations remain just beyond their grasp.
I do not believe that long term business success is an accident or the result of good fortune. Those who have achieved great success, you and your employees must have done many things right. I deeply respect you for your accomplishment.
However, for those who have yet to achieve their objectives, including anyone whose business still has room for dramatic improvements, this book should prove thoughtful, insightful, and helpful. This is a book written specifically for startups, small business owners and their management teams (companies ranging in size from new startups to 500 employees), and can provide them with the help and guidance they need to gain the success for which they strive. If that sounds like you - if you’re passionate about what you are doing and desire nothing more than to obtain the type of business mastery that will help you be the true architect of your company’s success, then read on.
Furthermore, since employees are one of the key pillars of business' success, this book is also written with them in mind. They will find helpful information, meaningful insights, and inspiration; all of which can help them to become better employees with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it will take for the business to succeed. As a result, they will have ample opportunities to contribute to the success of the business, thereby, making it easier for them to align themselves with the company's missions, goals and objectives. Ultimately, this will help employees enjoy greater success in their career.
Additionally, I have made a persuasive case to replace the much disliked traditional “Employee Performance Review” with “Mutual Goals Review” that is significantly more rewarding and collaborative in promoting employees career advancement than the subjective grading of employees weaknesses. It serves the mutual interest of both the company and the employees with a unified purpose of fulfilling the company’s goals, missions, and the ultimate vision.
I want you to take a moment and envision yourself either designing or redesigning your company. As you do so, imagine that you are creating a complete and functioning system with a multitude of subsystems and component parts. Now imagine that this system you’re creating is somehow disordered to the point where some of those components are not working properly, causing those subsystems to fail to work in harmony with one another. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that lack of harmony and disordered component parts is a common feature of many new business enterprises. All too often, even the most energetic entrepreneurs fail to give enough attention to the finer details of the company’s design before they launch their ventures.
In order for that imagined system to operate as it should every component has to work as designed, in unison with every other component, each fulfilling its essential role within the various subsystems that make up the whole of your operation. They must be unified in purpose, efficient, and capable of performing at optimal levels on a consistent basis. When you have a company that can achieve those standards, then you have a company that can achieve almost any goal.
Ideally, your goal is to create the type of company that is almost impossible for your competitors to fully replicate. The thing is, though, that you cannot do that all by yourself. Yes, it all has to start with you, but at some point you will have to begin to rely on a team to help you achieve your vision. Ultimately, that team will end up being one of the most important factors in determining just how successful your new enterprise will be.
At this point, you might find that you’re saying to yourself, “Yes, Alan - that’s true for every company at one point or another. Tell me something I don’t know.” And you’d be right, of course. Well, half-right, that is. You see, as important as any team is to the ultimate success of any business venture, there are far too many instances where even the best group of recruited personnel somehow never mesh together in a way that capably follows through on the company’s vision. Entrepreneurs routinely start out with great visions and expectations and then find that everything seems to unravel on them within just a few short years - if not earlier.
The question is why? Why do even the most visionary entrepreneurs often find their best and brightest ideas failing to gain traction in the marketplace? In some unfortunate cases, successful and established companies took a sudden turn for the worst, and failed. Why do so many businesses fail so early? More importantly, what steps can you take now to ensure that you’re not just another one of those statistics? This book’s purpose is to answer that question and many more, while helping you develop a new way of approaching your own quest for business success.
If there is one fact that is crystal clear, it is that your vision will be central to everything you do from this point forward. To succeed, you must start with a clear and coherent vision for your business, and you must be passionate about it. That vision, however, is not your mission or your goal. It is instead the directional sense that guides the strategic decision-making that you employ to reach your goals and objectives.
Do you have that vision yet? It’s fine if you don’t yet have that perfect clarity - as long as you know that you’re not fully there. Problems occur when people think that they have a vision, but later find out that they began without any real sense of the bigger picture. Too often, they discover much too late that what they had were objectives and a sense of a mission, but no overriding vision to help them get where they needed to be to realize their ultimate goals. In other words, many entrepreneurs simply start out focusing on the wrong elements of the success equation, and then end up wondering why their plans fail.
Start with your vision, and the ultimate mission that you want your vision to accomplish. From there, you work on establishing initial objectives and goals that you want to achieve. Then you develop the winning strategies that can offer you the best opportunity to reach those goals. Subsequently, you learn to master the art of flawless execution of your winning strategies. Notice, if you will that none of the team members we mentioned earlier are even a consideration at this point in the process. There’s a good reason for that: you have to create the vision, mission, and goals for your company before you even think about recruiting help. Those elements have to be firmly in your mind - or better yet, documented so that you have something to which you hold yourself accountable before you ever make that first critical hire.
Only when you are done establishing your vision, mission, goals, and strategies can you actually begin to build a team. At that point, you have to find the type of competent people you believe to be most likely to buy into your business philosophy and mindset. You need people who are capable of being inspired by your exceptional leadership style and strategic vision, as that is the only way to ensure that they are in turn capable of helping you to create the type of business culture that your enterprise needs for success. That culture should motivate everyone in the company to consistently deliver their highest level of commitment and performance, and thereby contribute to the effort to reach your business goals. Once you reach that point, you will have created a system that basically channels the mindset of its leader even when your attention is elsewhere. You will have designed a system for effectively cloning yourself.
The key, though, is to ensure that the “you” that you’re cloning is the best “you” it can be! This book is designed to help you find that best part of you, so that you can begin to build a team with the type of unified vision and purpose needed to achieve true success.
Improve Your Odds
In many ways, a lot of new entrepreneurs take the same approach to business startups that they would apply in a casino. Many just assume that the inherent risk associated with starting a new company makes such a venture little better than gambling. That belief is often strengthened when they take note of the statistically high rate of new business failures.
The fact is, though, that there are some key differences between business ownership and a few hours spent in a casino. In the gambling world, the outcomes are truly random and thus outside of your control. And while there are certainly games where you at least have some input into how you choose to play a certain hand or wheel, the fact is that all of the primary components of each game are designed to be beyond your ability to influence. It means that any betting victories you may have are entirely the result of chance. That’s why we refer to gamblers who win as having been “lucky.”
Gambling is a fickle thing, though. For every person who sees Lady Luck smile their way when they hit the jackpot, there are an untold number of players who lose everything they have. And while professional gamblers can certainly develop elaborate strategies and spread their play out over a larger number of games in an attempt to create more favorable odds by taking advantage of the laws of probability, in the end they remain as vulnerable to the whims of chance as any amateur first-time player. Even the best gamblers can go bankrupt if they experience a long enough series of losses.
Business is only a gamble to the extent that life itself is a gamble. After all, no one can control every outcome in life, and the same is true in the business world as well; unpredictability is one of life’s surest constants. Still, there are clear differences between an activity like gambling that is almost entirely random in nature, and something like business ownership that has no greater randomness to it than most other areas of life. More to the point, in business there are ways to effectively manage and exercise a large measure of control over the odds you face each day. That is, if you have aspirations of achieving something more than mediocrity. On the other hand, if you create a new startup without a clear plan for taking your rightful place among the top thirty percent in your industry, then you really are engaged in a huge gamble and should consider yourself lucky if you manage to remain in business for even five years.
Unfortunately, that is the reality for the vast majority of new entrepreneurs. Most never make it. In fact, the odds are so stacked against the unprepared new business owner, and the outcomes are so incredibly uncertain, that it is actually easy to understand why so many people consider the launch of any new business enterprise as little more than a gamble - and a rather large one at that. That’s also one of the reasons why it is often so difficult to convince others to bet on your great ideas and business concepts. The risks are high, and the potential for loss in such an investment is simply too great for most people to bear.