28 July 2013

How do you create an extraordinary business? That’s the zillion dollar question, the one we are all trying to find the answer to. Yet every now and then someone comes along with the answer. But each entrepreneur does it differently and I have yet to find two the same. Steve Jobs, who clearly answered his critics with success after success did things very differently to Sir Richard Branson and other great entrepreneurs.

Steve Jobs Founder of Apple

Steve Jobs delivering one of his legendary presentations

So how do you do it, and why are there not more similar stories?

The more great entrepreneurs I meet, whilst they all have different products, strategies and businesses, there are similarities that help some people stand out more than others.

The reason I believe that there aren’t more people rising to the top with similar success stories, is that whilst many people may have the traits needed to become a “great,” the personality traits that make you successful are the same ones that can get you very quickly to the bottom of the pile. There’s an all or nothing attitude that quite often ends up as the latter if you get it slightly wrong.

That’s why so many great entrepreneurs have a number of goes at it, and they are not always successful first time around. The ones that keep going and keep trying are the ones who are more likely to get to the top. The ones who make it are the ones who learn the lessons along the way.

This is the bit of business that excites me. The amount of mistakes I make that stand me in good stead afterwards at my second or third attempt are invaluable. If you make a mistake, remember the moment as it will help drive you later on.

“It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.” I don’t know who said it first. However, I remember hearing that at an early age and understanding it.

Steve Job’s success with Apps came after Adobe refused to create Photoshop for the OSX operating system, so he went on to design easy-to-use software to edit and organise your pictures, cutting out Adobe for the general user. I bet Adobe regret that meeting!

So what’s the answer?

Well, the answers are all around us. There has never been such a wealth of information on everything business related and that information is more accessible now than it has ever been. By reading and watching what great leaders do and don’t do, you can formulate your own plan and one day hopefully we’ll be reading and learning from you.

Business for me is less about betting it all, rather bet enough to stay in the game if it all goes wrong. I am not a big believer in risking everything and whilst a number of entrepreneurs reach destinations far quicker by adopting more aggressive game plans, I am still here learning and developing from everyone around me. This is my way and others might see weakness in my method but, ultimately, we all have to find our own style.

The 2 important and necessary traits that I believe separate the good from the great are hunger and appetite. They are in us all but at different levels, and the end results are determined by and relative to the sheer size of one’s appetite. When people reach a level that surpasses their expectations, the natural thing is to relax and enjoy the moment. The truly special entrepreneurs manage to maintain their hunger and never seem to settle, no matter what they achieve.

If money is your end goal, this is something easily achievable and you are likely to disengage at some point. But if your goal is to change the world, or make the greatest product that has ever existed, you will never have time to settle on that journey. Money should be a by-product of doing well, not the be-all and end-all.

There’s a dangerous balance though and it’s your appetite and desire for more that can make people bite off more than they can chew. It’s also evident that many people can lose their appetite for their business, so many people are losing their way and losing their focus. The statistics on businesses failing are staggering with a tiny percent being around after a decade.

To future proof  yourself and to ensure you stand the test of time, by studying the great leaders and the successful people around us, you will quickly see that they are great delegators and managers.  These are important skills to develop and emulate as  you can’t do it all on your own. Investing in your team, developing your talent and keeping hold of people over long periods is essential if you wish to maintain your culture and have like-minded people at the heart of your business as it grows. Every business goes through hard times and every business person is faced with some tough questions at some point on their journey, none more so when the economy turns for the worst and times get tough, but the sun rises even on the longest and darkest days. Your job is just to be there ready for when your opportunity arises, with a motivated and loyal team. Are you ready? Have you the appetite?


Image from acaben on Flickr


Back to Blog