A Manifesto on business.
As a business owner, you will never find a simple step by step guide to success. But a few simple concepts will always ring true no matter what kind of business you are in. This manifesto is a collection of those concepts.
1. Progress Over Perfection
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Perfection is something every entrepreneur struggles with. I’ve lost count of the amount of businesses or projects (including my own) that never saw the light of day because the team behind it wanted it to be ‘perfect’. It doesn’t matter if your idea really could change the world, or how much it serves your customers, if you never get it out the door.
Simply put perfection can and will kill your business, but progress will keep you moving forward.
The goal of perfection is to produce something without any flaws or defects, and the reality is in bushiness that will never be possible. Providing a ‘perfect’ product means producing a product with perfect branding, a perfect purchase experience, a perfect customer service experience and more for all of your customers and all of their individual needs.
The goal of progress is to move forward given whatever the current circumstances are. Focusing on progress means you focus on starting and working from where you actually are rather than how you want to be seen. Focusing on progress means you accept your financial situation, time availability, and skills as they are rather than what they could be if something else were to happen.
Progress over perfection is all about being honest, raw, and real about your circumstances, mistakes, and abilities so that you can maximize your efforts and see real results.
2. People Over Process
“Surround yourself with good people; surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better.” – Ali Krieger
As an automation queen, I will be the first to encourage clients to use technology to make their business run leaner and meaner. If you have a problem in your business, I guarantee that there is an app for that and it’s probably pretty bad ass. But lean automatons mean nothing if those automatons are created without purpose and people in mind.
Processes are meant to improve the lives of the people your business touches.
A successful process starts by understanding the people whose lives it’s meant to improve. Sometimes it’s your customers other times its for yourself or your team. But automatons or a great process shouldn’t exists just because it sounds like a good idea or looks good on paper. A great process or automation should be purpose built to inform and enable collaboration and results.
The right people will bring magic to you business, as long as you enable them to succeed. A strong process or tool should contribute to creating the best environment you can so your team can bring their best selves every single day. Your processes and automatons should enable your team, and if you lead with them in mind it will also improve your bottom line.
Building an amazing business means you need to build an amazing team. Amazing teams come from collaboration and respect, not fancy software.
3. It’s Not About You
“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle
The only way for a business to succeed is to provide value, but how do you even begin to define what that means? We see successful businesses in every industry from business tools to video games being massively profitable. Which tells us that value changes greatly from person to person as well as their situation, mood, and time of day. Value is subjective, and it only matters on an individual level.
If the goal of business is to provide value to others, then your businesses success is predicated on how others feel about and view your business.
What it all boils down to is that it’s all about your customers. Their wants, desires, hopes and dreams are what will drive your business. While this seems obvious on the surface, many great business failures have taught us that it’s easy to forget. Successful businesses know that every decision they make needs to be about what their customers think they need and want, not what the business defines their needs and wants as.
People are complicated and they are always changing. What this means for you as a business owner, is that your customers needs and wants will always change. It’s going to be your job to listen to them with intent and make it your mission to help them. It’s not always easy, but that sometimes means you put technology, your team, and even your feelings to the side so that your customers needs are first.
Putting your customers first means you stop trying to get them on board with your goals and desires for them, but instead meet them where they are and start from there.
4. Less Is More
“I have always believed in ‘less is more’ in everything I do, from work to my personal life.” – Tory Burch
There is a big difference between understanding how to get something done versus getting it done. We are problem solving machines, and sometimes we use the mental exercise of understanding a problem to over solve and complicate what our actions should be. We take what should be our next step, and envision the future 5 or 6 steps ahead and start working from there instead of where we actually are.
When we over complicate our problems or business needs, we over solve and waste our time.
Focusing on less isn’t about ignoring the bigger picture or failing to take the time to understand future hurdles or pitfalls, it’s about laser focusing on a single core element and making it the priority. When you prioritize one thing above all else, you enable your self and your business to be amazing at that one thing rather than mediocre at everything.
When you tackle one big problem for your customers and solve that problem well then you become memorable and valuable. The beauty of focusing on less is that your business can bring that single solution to the entire market, and then your only job as the business owner is to guide customers to that solution with your marketing.
Focusing on less allows you to create truly remarkable solutions for your customers.
5. Money Matters
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol
If you were to craft a formula to determine how successful a business is or could be, money would be a primary factor in that equation in several different ways. Making money is obviously the primary goal of any business, without making money you can’t keep your doors open. But the reality is, that it’s so much more than that.
Money is a metric for success as much as it is a tool to help you achieve success.
Money itself doesn’t make your business successful, but it is what you measure your business against to determine if it’s successful. Money tells you if your business is profitable, scale-able, and sustainable. Money can inform you if investing in fancy software or that consultant to improve your business is worth it.
Everything in your business has a fiscal value. From the tools and equipment you need to get the job done to the time invested to deliver an amazing product, its all worth something. The cost of time, equipment, and more to produce your product should all come together to determine your rate and ultimately your profits.
You need to get close to your money in business, to understand what it’s doing for you and how you can put it to work for the business.
6. Plans Pivot
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we place the game.” – Randy Pausch
A well laid plan is key to success, especially in business. However, a great plan does much more than create a road-map for where you want to go, it lays a foundation for future projects, initiatives and more. A plan is meant to take you closer to your goals personally and professionally.
The best plans change and pivot over time, allowing you to maximize what you learn over time to accomplish and acheive your goals.
If there are a million and one ways to succeed in starting and growing your own business then there are two-million and two ways to fail. But if being successful were purely defined by successes and failures, none of the great products or services we use today would exists.
The purpose of planning is to help you accomplish your goals in a strategic and thoughtful way. A strong plan takes into consideration that things change over time and that every experience and failure is something to learn from. Pivoting your plans based on where you are and what you have learned is what matters.