Henry Ford’s businesses failed and left him flat broke five times before he founded Ford Motor Company, R.H. Macy started seven businesses and failed at each one before he found the right combination, Soichiro Honda was turned down as an engineer at Toyota, was jobless for quite a while then created a scooter company that went broke before he finally created Honda Motor Company, Harland Sanders and his famous Colonial Sanders Chicken recipe was rejected by over 1,009 restaurants and hundreds of bankers before he finally turned the corner and made his recipe for business cook. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor and started quite a few businesses that ended in bankruptcy before he created his world famous amusement parks. Yes, even Bill Gates has gone broke. Bill’s first company was called Traf-O-Data. Many now mega-successful business people have stumbled and hit the ground a few times before they figured out how to run effective and profitable organizations. Here are three traits of the successful business person who is faced with uncertain economic challenges.
The Step-by-Step Process
The first is persistence. From day one a human being must learn to be persistent to walk, ride a bike, read, do algebra and run a successful business and people usually don’t succeed the first time at any of these. In my experience, people simply don’t give themselves enough “cushion” of time and resources to make the inevitable small and large mistakes required to “figure it out.” The richest and most successful business man I know personally (all self-made and happens to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars) told me once. “yes, I’ve made some money but I’ve made tons of mistakes and lost millions in the process. The main thing is that I stuck with it.” I have close friends and colleagues who are struggling right now in these uncertain economic times and although some of them are getting a pretty severe beating, they know and I know that they will once again create and lead successful businesses. As my earlier examples illustrate, successful business people can struggle at different levels or be flat broke but the persistent ones can take a punch and keep moving toward their objective.
The second critical element is a strong identity. In other words, successful people have a strong sense of self–an unwavering trust in themselves. They are aware of their strengths and have learned to leverage these and conversely, they have weaknesses as well. In these areas, they have the strength to surround themselves with people who are better in these areas than they and rely on them to do that which they are not good at. It takes courage for a person who has been more successful than his or her peers to admit anything less than superiority. Get over yourself; admit it; embrace it and give your overworked ego a rest. Learn to delegate those mundane or overly difficult tasks and life will get easier. Persistence and self-awareness alone will not do it, however, you need a little something extra.
That something extra is knowing how to “Think.” Successful business people have learned to slow down or even stop what they are doing and “think.” The term “Think” was made famous by Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, who had plaques made for every executive’s desk. He knew the answers to IBM’s success lay in the minds of his people, he just needed to teach them to stop trying so hard, take their collective noses off the proverbial grind-stone and LEARN to “think.” Successful business people see the world as a place where opportunities exist—and they zero in on these and then take action. Learning to slow down, think, and take action is a learned process and when coupled with the first two suggestions one creates a mindset that makes success almost certain. What is that last piece to this “success puzzle that creates the tipping point?”
The last piece to this success puzzle is often overlooked but necessary: adding real value to the customer. If you remember only one piece to this puzzle remember this. If the customer isn’t directly touched or their situation significantly improved due to your product or service then it is of no value and should be dumped. end of story. The customers opinion is the only one that counts. Successful business people are “value added.” In essence, they have learned to add something of value to the conversation, to make the product or service better, and to improve the customer’s situation.
Self-Review for Success
Now look in the mirror and ask yourself, what will be my contribution to the world? How will you improve yourself and those around you? As human beings, we are at our best when we are working to improve our situation or that of another. make a habit of consistently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Remember that many successful business people have experienced similar thoughts and feelings as you, as they overcame the challenges that were set before them. Stand up, dust yourself off, look for opportunity and take the next step.
Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™