I recently met Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, among other books. To paraphrase, he said: If you think your business is only as good as it’s people you have it backwards. Actually, the truth is that your people are only as good as your business!
If your business requires perfect employees to succeed, you’re in trouble. The best companies in the world get hiring wrong all the time, yet they thrive. I’d take a great business with flawed employees over a flawed business with great employees any day.
Last July my wife and I traded our permanent home for the experience of living semi-permanently in a new US city each month while launching an online business. Almost by accident, we became digital nomads (sans exotic, inexpensive southeast Asian destinations).
Routines are constantly disrupted. When you arrive in a new city, you are forced to give up certain activities and remain open to a new way of doing things.
Nurturing friendships takes real effort, thought, and energy when nearly all of your friends are long-distance.
In early-stage businesses, processes are often haphazard or absent. Employees and owners shoot from the hip and let gut instinct to dictate how they do their job.
Eventually, this becomes unsustainable, and mature companies learn to institutionalize knowledge into well-documented processes. New hires are rigorously trained, and there are feedback loops in place for monitoring performance and making continuous refinements.
Soon, processes start to look like the solution to every problem. Be careful, though, not to let process become ingrained in company culture to the point where adherence to the rules takes priority over delighting customers.
Launching a business in the depths of the last economic downturn taught me an important lesson: Don’t look to macroeconomic trends to provide clues to your financial future. These factors don’t affect you as much as you may think, and you certainly can’t affect them.
Instead, focus on the micro-economy of you. Your education, the goals you’ve set, and the daily actions you’ve taken towards them. Are you constantly working to make yourself more valuable to the world economy? These things matter much more than the state of the markets, housing prices, or unemployment numbers.
One surefire way to drive a ship off course is to put the captain at the wheel.
A captain’s job is to envision the destination, set the route, and course correct when necessary.It’s often in the course correction where the ship goes astray. It can sometimes feel easier to just take hold of the wheel yourself, but don’t do it.
Perhaps you’re more adept at steering than the person at the wheel (quite often, you’re really not), but don’t pretend you can steer and do captain stuff at the same time. Almost no one can.
What are you trying to accomplish? When you look towards others who have done it, you’ll see that some of them had all the advantages that you don’t. Pay them no attention.
Seek out the ones who have done it with a lot less going for them than you have- less money, less talent, less experience, fewer connections. Look for the ones who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet still managed to get it done.
Next time doubt creeps in, instead of making excuses and asking “why me?” try asking “why not me?”
When you’ve decided to climb a mountain and plotted your course, the key is not to think about the mountain anymore. Instead, think about the rocks.
If you’re watching the pebbles on the ground in front of you, you’ll go round in circles and never progress.
If you focus on the insurmountable boulders obstructing your way, there will be no point in continuing along.
Climb the rocks- those that are small enough to scale in a single step, yet large enough to boost yourself over the boulders. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself at the summit.
Being in launch mode for my next business has taught me the value of gig economy platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. I used to spend weeks interviewing vendors and checking references. I’m now able to hire in an hour and execute in mere days.
If you’re not using the gig economy to augment (or be!) your in-house team, you’re in danger of being overtaken by more agile competition.
If you’re not conscious that your prospective B2B customers are leveraging these platforms instead of hiring you, you may be blindsided.
Ignore the gig economy at your peril.
Six months ago, my wife and I (plus pets) decided to leave NYC and live month-to-month in new towns across the eastern US in search of a new place to call home.
Not having a permanent home has been at the same time liberating and unsettling.
Here are a few lessons learned so far:
As humans, we are far more adaptable than we think
We are quite selective about the “stuff” we acquire when everything must eventually fit in the car
Above all else, being surrounded and supported by friends, family, and community is what truly creates a “home”.
When someone in your life offers you business or career advice- it’s important to ask yourself: What is this person’s credibility?
Perhaps the advice-giver has already achieved what you’re setting out to do.
They may fit the customer profile for your product or service- which in many ways, is the best kind of credibility- and you should listen intently.
Be aware that the worst kind of advice is from people who have our best interest at heart, yet no credibility. Do not ask non-credible sources for advice- If nobody in your life is credible- go seek them out.