Great businesses don’t happen by chance. The secret sauce hat achieves greatness is a commitment to excellence — the principles and practices of hard work, resiliency and an unwavering dedication to improvement. This commitment needs to be renewed every single day.
Why? Because everything that comes at you for the rest of the day will most certainly conspire to make you veer away from these beliefs. You’ll consider compromising on your work for the sake of ease, comfort and convenience.
To create a great business, you must have the desire and the passion to do whatever it takes.
Make creativity a priority
You will have no greater partner in your business than creativity. Creativity is a mountain mover and a problem solver. It’s a developer and an inventor. Creativity will help you bring originality to your business and find new paths and new solutions. Creativity, applied well, can be a tremendous competitive advantage.
Make creativity a priority. Encourage yourself and everyone who works with you to explore, challenge the status quo and find better ways. Allow for failure as well as success. Creativity doesn’t mean you need the ability to paint a portrait or write a song — it’s a mindset.
Don’t be a statue
The world today is changing a lot faster than it used to. Developing ideas on behalf of your business and then firmly planting them in cement for as long as you possibly can is archaic. You must rethink as much as you think. Look ahead more than you look behind. And you need to reinvent and improve the things you just invented, because standing still is simply a way toward getting run over.
Great businesses are part of the changing landscape, not trying to catch up to it, and that requires regularly thinking fresh. Sometimes you may learn that your prior thinking still applies. Other times, you may need to throw out both the baby and the bathwater. That said, one way or another, you must challenge yourself and your thinking.
Curiosity may have killed the occasional feline, but it also brought many businesses to life.
Curiosity keeps you moving forward. It keeps you exploring, opening new doors and doing new things. Curiosity is about peeking under rocks, climbing ladders to see over walls, and digging holes because that’s where buried treasure lies. Curiosity is about finding answers.
Passionate curiosity is what makes you see things that others don’t get to. Albert Einstein once said, “I’m neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.”
Be afraid of fear
There will always be reasons to be afraid. You could find yourself paralyzed with fear because you think your business is on the line, or you could be afraid of making a mistake and feeling ridiculed, disliked, misunderstood or just plain stupid.
These fears are all normal and understandable, but they can also be quite destructive to your business as they can hold you back. Some of the most inventive and game-changing ideas have been born out of error — the kind of original ideas that come to life when you dare to be different, keep an open mind, and have no fear of crashing and burning.
Have partners, not vendors
An often overlooked aspect of doing business with other people is that they have experience that you likely don’t. Vendors, suppliers, even sales people may have insights and experience you can learn from. It pays to think beyond the work order and treat these people like partners — open your ears, ask questions, and get to know their business and how it impacts yours. Don’t think you’re the smartest person in the room; believe that you can learn something from anyone.
Vendors come and go. Partners discuss, collaborate and cooperate in order to help the business succeed.
Know the difference between bravery and stupidity
You won’t hear of many people getting out of bed in the morning, turning to their spouse, and saying, “You know, honey, I think I’ll put our entire future at risk today. The kids’ education, the mortgage, food on the table. I’m gonna roll the dice on all of it.”
That’s because (most) people aren’t dumb. They may be willing to take chances and push the boundaries of their thinking and sometimes even their comfort level, but they don’t usually take big, ridiculous gambles. They don’t think of business as spinning a roulette wheel in Vegas.
There’s a difference between a brave idea and a risky one. Brave ideas move mountains and change fortunes. They take the status quo and politely show it the door. Brave ideas may still be uncertain, but they exist in a foundation of knowledge and understanding that gives them an element of preparedness.
Risky ideas, on the other hand, require a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover and keeping your fingers crossed while muttering, “Please, please, please.”
Every day you must know the rules in order to break them. You must push past the safe and run at the brave. It takes courage to build a business; that’s different than stupidity.
Give up on giving up
There are a lot of things that get in the way of a business’s success. Some of it is controllable, and some of it isn’t. Some of it is self-inflicted, and some of it isn’t. But no matter what, be the person to find your way through, over and around these things every single time. Great people never give up.
Be aware that obstacles are everywhere. Sometimes they’re in the form of people. Sometimes they’re in the form of stupidity. They’re all hard to accept, and they can kill motivation. It takes a special person to get past that. Someone with the passion, maturity, optimism and the ability to take a punch, get back up, and punch back even harder.
Live beyond your business
Live in the now. Get away from your business and go out and experience new art, new technology, new music and new sociability. Meet new people and create new relationships. Get out and experience what’s happening beyond the walls of your business. When you do, you will help your business be a larger part of today.
The end of the world is not near
Apathy. Negativity. Cynicism. They don’t have a place in great businesses. Seeing what you do, how you do it, or who you do it with as a half-empty glass is a waste of God-given talent and opportunity.
Building a business today already has too much doubt, compromise and inertia. The way around it is to champion, beyond reason, what you do and why you do it. The way around it is to marry enthusiasm to your work. The people behind great businesses are the ones who take each day, each project and each endeavor by the proverbial horns.
The people who build great businesses are like Weebles — they wobble but they don’t fall down. They’re characterized by optimism and unbridled enthusiasm. They constantly fall in love with the idea of doing something great.
Enthusiasm is infectious — spread it. Optimism is contagious — catch it. The potential for greatness sits on a tray of half-filled glasses, and success comes from believing you can fill them the rest of the way to the top.