Everyone wants to be successful but what do we mean by the word “successful”? Everyone has his or her own idea. It could be making lots of money, building up a valuable business, becoming famous, making a difference to people, enjoying life, more holidays, more security or a mixture of these.
But in a business context, most people agree on at least three things. They want:
- More profit
- More fun (or less hassle)
- Less time at work (more life)
Your own strategy for success should aim at what you want for your life, and what you want your business to do for you.
The scientific perspective
In last week’s New Scientist I found an article by Michael Bond entitled The Secrets of Success. He asks what does it take to succeed – and are we doing all we can as individuals and societies to help? The article suggests that success is one of those things it is impossible to be against. Usually money and recognition are high on most people’s priorities for themselves and their family. In the USA, President Obama seems to infer success in the US is now more dependent than ever on being born into wealth and privilege, whilst London’s Mayor Boris Johnson recently addressed the issue of growing inequality, but his vision was rather different. Success is all about IQ, Johnson suggested, so all we can do is give the brightest kids the best chance to succeed.
Read the article and then draw your own conclusions.
The Gerber explanation
Small business guru Michael Gerber developed Small Business Mastery System – an A-to-Z blueprint for conceiving, launching, growing, and profiting from a business that gives you more time, more money, and more personal freedom than you ever thought you could have as an entrepreneur. Read about it here.
The E-Myth Academy was founded by Michael Gerber and Thomas Travisano in San Mateo, California. The partners had a vision to create an affordable (and scalable) education program that taught business management skills to struggling entrepreneurs. The E-Myth Revisited becomes the 5th best-selling business book of all time. That sounds pretty successful to me.
Malcolm Gladwell’s views on Success Secrets
One of my favourite authors is Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of the groundbreaking books Outliers: The Story of Success, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He has made a career out of challenging assumptions and finding unexpected reasons for why things happen. Why success happens is one of those things. In Outliers, Gladwell points out there was a “magic year” to be born to become a successful software entrepreneur. Bill Gates, for example, “probably wouldn’t have started Microsoft if he hadn’t been born in 1955,” noted Cathy Arnst in a Bloomberg Businessweek review of Outliers. “That made Gates old enough to take advantage of the opportunities that opened up with the introduction, in 1975, of the Altair 8800, the first do-it-yourself computer kit. But he wasn’t so old as to be too settled in his life to take a leap of faith.” Arnst notes that Gates, and other early Silicon Valley pioneers, “succeeded not just on their extraordinary talent but also because they had the right opportunities at exactly the right time.” Read what Gladwell thinks here.
Blue Ocean Strategy for Success
I recommend that you read Blue Ocean Strategy. It was written in 2005 by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Professors at INSEAD and Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. Published by Harvard Business Review Press, the book is based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries. The authors show that companies can succeed not by battling competitors, but rather by creating ″blue oceans″ of uncontested market space. These strategic moves create a leap in value for the company, its buyers, and its employees, while unlocking new demand and making the competition irrelevant. It is an important move to achieve success.
Early in the book (page 12) the authors say:
“What consistently separated winners from losers in creating blue oceans was their approach to strategy. The companies caught in the red ocean follow the conventional approach, racing to beat the competition by building a defensible position within the existing industry order. The creators of blue oceans, surprisingly, didn’t use the competition as their benchmark. Instead they followed a different strategic logic that we call value innovation. Value innovation is the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy. We call it valued innovation because instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby, opening up new and uncontested market space. Value innovation places equal emphasis on value and innovation. Value without innovation tends to focus on value creation on incremental scale, something that improves value but is not sufficient to make you stand out in the marketplace. Innovation without a value tends to be technology driven, market pioneering, or futuristic, often shooting beyond what buyers are ready to accept and pay for.”
My ideas on Success
There are plenty of ideas in my publication, 130 Reasons why some people are much, much more successful in business than others. Some of the ideas come from mega-successful entrepreneurs while others come from working with small businesses, over many years.
At least one of these ideas will have the potential to dramatically improve your business and your life.
Here are the first few ideas from the publication: Successful people succeed because:
- They set goals and commit the goals to writing. In writing. They remind themselves every morning. Research shows that this can make you over 30 times as likely to succeed.
- They start with the end in mind. When they started their business, they had a clear vision of what it would be like when their plans came to fruition.
- They use the 80:20 principle. They direct their effort and energy to the 20% of things which make an 80% difference.
- They give their customers what their customers want. This is much better than just supplying what’s in stock or which is easy to provide.
- They find out what their customers actually want. This is also better than assuming that customers like what they’re getting (or giving customers what everyone else gives).
- They discover what their customers hate and make sure it never, ever happens.
- They find out what really turns their customers on. And make sure it happens, every time.
- They know where their new customers are coming from. By asking, recording and analysing every enquiry.
- They aren’t scared to ask their customers what they think of them.
- They get opinions from their own staff. They often know how to do the job better. But in most businesses, no-one usually asks them.
- The plan their escape (that is, their exit from the business). They know that if the business depends on them being there, working in it, they’re holding back its growth potential. And no-one will want to buy it when they retire.
- They rely on systems. This is so much better than just relying on people. If the business is only great because it’s got some exceptional people, what happens when they leave, or when you need more of them?
- They don’t try to do everything. It’s easier to be really good at a few things. They outsource, or refer customers on, for things they can’t do superbly themselves.
- They view problems as opportunities. They will use a customer complaint as a chance to turn him into a raving fan of the business.
The penalty for missing an opportunity is failure the opposite of success: England Soccer manager Roy Hodgson is likely to use a psychologist for the team’s penalty takers at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil to ensure they are better prepared. Six of the last 10 major tournaments England have qualified for, have ended in defeat via penalty-kicks. The Telegraph reported on this over the weekend and said that Dr Steve Peters is the chosen psychologist
If you would like a copy of my publication, 130 Reasons why some people are much, much more successful in business than others, email me at: email@example.com