Part One: If you are contemplating starting a business or are in your first 3 to 5 years of a new business there are a lot of things yet to be discovered about running a company. Do you know what you should learn first? Do you know what is important to build a solid foundation for long term sustainability and growth?
Getting rich quick is a popular notion in today’s world but did you know it took almost 8 years for Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com to actually start making a profit? Elon Musk was sleeping on the factory floor at Tesla. Much of what we hear about overnight success is simply not true. Sure some people win the lottery, but for the vast majority of businesses, it takes about 3 years minimum before a company is solidly profitable, has free-cash-flow, and that the apparent profit is not simply derived from deferred maintenance, underpaid owners or sustained by funding that can’t be repeated. It takes time. In fact, creating a truly healthy business in less than three years is truly remarkable.
We hope the information in this business training course will help you build a solid company that can weather the vicissitudes of the marketplace, changes in technology, employee turnover and cash-flow challenges.
If you are running a company or just thinking about starting one, you have probably heard about goals and how important they are. If you have not already devoted some time to goal setting, you really should look into this subject. We will start with a simple, but important example, of the power of properly defining goals and how being casual about goal setting can be disastrous.
For example the question: How can I improve my business knowledge?
Is not a bad question to ask, but on the other hand, a better question might be:
How can I achieve success for my company?
The reason the second question is better is that it directly addresses the desired end result, a better company. While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it is a very important distinction. One question is about a primary goal, a thriving company,
the other question is about something in support of the primary goal – or a means to an end.
Do you see the difference?
There may be an even more important question to ask, such as why are you in business at all?
You may think this line of thought is a waste of time, you may want to get down to business. But, in fact, this may be one of the most important questions you should be completely clear about.
Why are you doing this at all, what are you actually trying to achieve? Do you know?
Are you trying to achieve happiness, money, power, fame, security? Are you trying to pay the mortgage and raise a family? Or do you want to become fabulously wealthy? These different objectives or motivations would lead to very different priorities and tactics in defining a business.
Motivation and Attitude
Your motivation, what is driving you? This is probably the most important factor effecting if you will succeed or fail.
Particularly for people new to business who are going to experience a lot of challenges, setbacks, sidetracks and hardships, what is motivating you will determine if you keep going or if you give up when the going gets tough. And it will.
The other factor that may be hard to separate from motivation is attitude. Do you expect to succeed or do you expect to fail? Do you blame your circumstances on anyone and everyone but yourself? Or do you accept everyone has challenges and that you will just have to find a way to overcome whatever obstacles may get in your way? Is your first thought, “It probably won’t work” or is your first thought, “I will make this happen!”
Think about it. Do you expect to win or do you expect to fail? Do you blame “the world“, “the system“, your race, gender, economic circumstances or location for your current success or failure? There is no doubt that some people “have it easier” than others. There is no doubt that some people are born rich, or are taller, or more good-looking or more charming than other people. There is no doubt that “the world’s not fair” if you want to look at it that way. But that’s how it is. And it has always been that way. Maybe it will change someday, maybe someone will change it. But you have the power to change your own life. Motivation and attitude are things you have total control over.
There are countless well-known stories of people of every age, race, gender, religion and circumstance that have overcome tremendous disadvantages and set-backs to achieve great things. There are even more cases of people who were never famous, but who lifted themselves up to achieve what they wanted to achieve. Maybe these achievements were not newsworthy, but they were important to those people.
So let’s get back to “Why”.
Do you really know why you left the security of a job, or are thinking about leaving a job and a steady paycheck to jump into the shark tank?
There is a big difference between if you are trying to get away from something (like a bad job), or if you are trying to create or achieve something (like a successful business). The difference is gigantic.
We will talk a lot more about Goals, but knowing how to set goals is important. One common mnemonic to remember the qualities of a properly defined goal is – SMART. Many people have come up with clever ways to help remember the qualities of a good goal. Regardless of what letters you use these qualities are important.
- S – Specific – The goal is not vague, it has a date when it should be accomplished and definable/measurable qualities.
- M – Measurable – As above, the goal can be measured. Deciding what is the best metric to measure a goal is a topic of its own.
- A – Attainable – Some people will tell you that you can attain anything. But it’s not true. You are never going to fly, or become invisible or live forever. If you are 5 foot 2 inches tall, you are never going to shoot baskets like Michael Jordan. So forget about “you can do anything”, instead focus on what YOU actually want and set goals that are realistic and possible for you. With your skills, abilities, resources and motivation. As you get better at accomplishing goals you can, and should, set higher goals.
- R – Relevant (or Rewarding). The “R” should probably be an “M” as it is about motivation, but that is not the way SMART is spelled! The goal needs to be something you actually want, for its own sake or to get to something you want.
- T – Time-bound (or Trackable). Yes, we already talked about setting a date, but setting a date or deadline is critical. “Someday I want to be rich” is not a good goal. “I have earned $100,000 by January 1st 20xx ” is much much better.
So let’s move beyond clever mnemonics and take a look at the qualities of a goal in another way. You will see the same elements are here. Why? Because people have been setting goals for tens of thousands of years, and no one invented it, we all know how to do it, but there are more effective and less effective ways to do it. Throughout this course, we will work with the idea of Conscious Competence or understanding what you are doing and why you are doing it the way you are doing it. A bit later I will describe the best way of setting and achieving goals out of the dozens that I have tried. But don’t jump ahead, because if you do you probably won’t see why there is a difference and why the method I will suggest is so powerful.
By the numbers, another way of looking at setting and achieving goals.
- A goal should be better than your best, but believable. You have to believe “in your heart” that you can do it. This is attitude and expectation coming back. Many people will say “aim for the sky” or “go big or go home,” These clever slogans may be worth considering, but also consider that we crawled before we walked, and walked before we ran. If you are somewhat new to “creating something from nothing,” then start with things you can achieve. As you get better at it, you can shoot higher.
- A goal should be something you want. Something worth committing to. Don’t set a goal for something frivolous. The goal should be for something you actually want to achieve OR a goal that is in services of a greater goal that you honestly want for its own sake. This is important, but easily misunderstood or neglected. We will come back to it.
- The goal is clearly defined. All goal-setting “systems” or instructions will tell you that you have to have clearly defined goals. You have to be able to measure them. It may be in dollars, or closed-sales, or measurable customer satisfaction, or tons of fish, products sold, or increases in profit margin. Deciding the most appropriate unit of measurement can be a major part of setting goals.
- By clearly defined we also mean you can vividly imagine it! You should be able to close your eyes and see, hear, feel, smell, and taste what it will be like when you have achieved the goal. You might think this is the same as number “3” above. Well, yes and no. Number three is the “logic” part, the “facts and figures” and this is the “emotion” part. We talk much more about logic and emotions in another section you can find here. Logic and Emotions
- The goal is ardently desired. There should be an intense passion for your goals. You don’t just “want” it. You “have to have” it. Robert Fritz uses the term “Dynamic Urge.” The phrase “ardently desired” or “Dynamic Urge” do not have magical meanings, but the point is that people who have spent a lot of time clarifying how to set goals come back again and again to this essential point. You have to actually, truly, genuinely, ardently want the goal. You are “motivated” to have it from someplace “inside you” that you may not even understand. But you have not just “made it up.” Or want it just to “keep up with the Joneses” or to be “one of the crowd”, unless “keeping up with the Jones” is very very important to you.
- The goal needs to be In writing. This should be obvious by now. Setting goals is not something you just “think about”, you need to sit down and think it out, then write it out, or type it out, or if you are a new modern person, you at least have to talk it into your speech to text system! You have to deliberately bring it from the realm of pure thought one step closer to physical reality by “spelling it out.”
Another catchy mnemonic for goal setting is: The goal needs to be Desirable, believable, achievable and measurable
We will move beyond the mnemonics and “pep talk” level of goal setting when we describe the Structural Charting method of creating what you want. A video by the creator of this system can be found here Structural Thinking. A book on the topic can be found here. Path of Least Resistance
Nothing new here! Just Business Training that works.
In this course, we hope to cover all the important aspects of what is important in even deciding to start a business or not, and for the first few years of a new enterprise. While this course is directed to the more junior entrepreneur, the information and principles contained here are timeless and probably worth the time of many seasoned businesspeople. The information was gained through over 40 years of starting and actually running companies as well as countless hours of study, courses, and training under some of the best people in the world of management and leadership.
We will touch on most of the essential ingredients of success in business.
Why What and How
Do you really know what you want to achieve? Are you clear about your goals and when you want to achieve them? This is an area where particularly people new to business often stumble, not having clearly defined goals or that your goals often drift all over the place.
As part of this business training course, we are going to take a look at this goal thing again from another perspective. Same topic but a different slant on the motivation and goal topic. Why you want What you want.
The ‘Why‘ is the motivation that drives the whole thing. This burning desire is why you get up early in the morning and why you will work late into the evening. If the motivation behind the goal is not of sufficient substance, you may vacillate, drift or quit when the going gets tough. Without a strong desire that is not just based on whim or passing fancy, it is very likely you won’t go the distance. But give it some thought. Why exactly are you in business? What are the ultimate end results of your desire for your efforts and Why do you want those results?
This is true for the big picture as well as for all the smaller steps that bring you from where you are now, to where you want to be. Whatever your goal is.
Okay but I still want to improve my business knowledge so I can achieve success, so don’t I need to know specific things?
There is speicialized knowldge you will have to learn, but this will of course depend on exactly what kind of work you are involved with. But these specific “hows” don’t really come into play until you are very clear about why you are doing what you what you are doing and exactly what it is you are doing.
It is certainly worth a few hours and even a few days weeks or months to become very very clear on exactly what you want to be involved with, exactly what you want to accomplish. Once this is very clear, then the specifics become very important. If you haven’t started into business yet, your time will be very well spent, exploring, examining and questioning exactly what you plan to do. If you are already in the middle of running a company, it will still be worth your effort to carve out some time to think carefully about exactly where you want to go.
We have talked about What you want and Why you want it and hopefully, you have been thinking about this. Once you are clear on the goals and motivation only then does it makes sense to look at the processes, the steps, techniques, tools and methods you should use to achieve your goals, or we might say the ‘How’ you will do it. So now we have 3 simple, but very powerful words to apply to whatever you may be setting out to do. Why What and How. I encourage you not to undervalue this simple concept. Confusing these three aspects of the process of creating something out of nothing is a major reason people fail or exert more time and energy than is necessary to go from here to there. Here being where you are now, and there is where you want to be at some future time, your goal.
As mentioned, nothing we are presenting here is new, revolutionary or original. Some of this perspective comes from the work of Robert Fritz and his Structural Thinking methodology and some have its roots long ago in the ancient Chinese teachings of “Heaven, Earth and Man” or “Heaven Earth and Human” if you prefer. In the simplest terms “Heaven” is where you want to go. Earth is where you are now. Man or Human is the active or energetic principle that joins heaven and earth. We should be clear, we are not talking about any kind of religious idea when we are speaking of “heaven”. A key aspect of this approach is that the way we join heaven and earth is to raise earth up to heaven, so to speak.
Using the language of Robert Fritz, Heaven is a desired end result and Earth is the current reality.
There are many factors involved in success of any kind, in the workplace or in other areas of your life. There are many things you can do to improve specific knowledge. You can take an online course, read books, watch videos or you can hire a consultant to help you improve your knowledge and know-how. You can get a job in the industry you are interested in or possibly take courses at a university (possibly the least effective). But a lot depends on your current circumstances, your current reality.
Reading success books, or books about how to achieve success, can still be useful even in this internet-age. But like a lot of things in the world, some things can sound good, but are popular or “trending” simply because they “sound good”, not because they have sound wisdom in them. Many people who teach success are not necessarily successful at anything expect in selling. Which is indeed a skill, a worthy career and a noble profession. At the same time, many people use selling as a way to only help themselves and not necessarily the customer. But this is a murky and possibly morally questionable line of thinking. But at least worth considering. Is someone who claims to be an expert in business success, actually successful from your point of view? Or possibly are they simply very successful at selling? Not much is totally clean-cut.
Succeeding in business or in any endeavour is simple in principle, but as has been said, the devil is in the details.
How can I improve my business knowledge?
This has just been an overview of some important principles or concepts. We have not gone into much detail but we will in later sections of this course. What has been covered here:
- This material is targeted to the person thinking about starting a business or in the early years of running a company.
- The importance of having a very clear picture of what you want and also knowing why you want it.
- That figuring out how to get from here to there is best done only after you are clear on why and what.
- See all objectives in three parts, heaven earth and human or end result, current reality and action steps.
- what you want
- where you are now, in relationship to what you want
- the steps or actions required to go from here to there
- Why you want what you want, or your motivation is probably more important than you thought.
- Your attitude is critical. You must expect to succeed.
- Everyone has challenges.
The world is what it is. Rely on yourself, accept help from others, but don’t blame, “the world” or other people for your ability to achieve what you want.
People have spent lifetimes over the course of history to find out what works and what does not work as well. There are ways to do things that work better than other ways. There are direct paths and circuitous paths. Be conscious of what you are doing. Recognize that there are steps in each process and understand where you are in the process.
See some more things worth learning about in the early years of business Here
This has been part one of business training, How to improve my business knowledge.
- Part 1 Go to Improve your business knowledge
Part 2 go to three elements of any business
- Part 3 go to marketing and sales
- Part 4 go to operational efficiency
- Part 5 go to planning and management
- Part 6