Whether you are trying to sell a prospective customer on buying your product, a prospective investor in funding you, or a prospective partner in doing business together, you will encounter and will have to overcome objections.
Importantly, you should plan for these objections beforehand. How? By expecting them, and trying to preempt them.
Here are the five universal objections for which you should be prepared.
Objection #1: I'm too busy
This makes it hard to even get your foot in the door in the first place. At the advertisement level, people will skim over your ad and never commit to focusing on and reading it. You've got to show prospects fast that what you're offering is worth their time.
The solution is to get their attention. Tease them with something, promise something, use memorable messages, and/or give prospects value up front.
Importantly, the better you understand who your customer is and can speak to their specific needs, the better you will do in getting their attention and getting them to spend time considering your offer.
Objection #2: Why do I need you?
Particularly if prospects are not actively seeking the product or service you offer, you must show them why they need it. Show them what life can be like with your solution - how it solves a key need or pain.
Sometimes you even need to put them in pain, if they don't know or think they are in pain. For example, while your prospects may be happy with their CPA firm, a message that stated "learn the 3 ways your CPA firm is probably costing you thousands of dollars each year" will make them think they do have a pain/problem and get their attention.
Objection #3: I don't have the money/the price is too high
This objection comes up earlier than you'd think. It's partly because people and companies are both more cost-conscious these days, and partly from people's aversion to spending more money on something at all. So "I don't have the money" is their excuse to bail before getting too invested in the decision-making process.
The solution here is to show prospects the value of what they are getting. Will your product or service enhance their lives, save them money in the future, position them to be more successful, etc.? Let them know the answer to this question!
Likewise, if the prospect is considering an alternative solution to your company which is less expensive, you need to show why the best decision is to go with you.
Objection #4: I'm not sure I believe you
People are skeptical, and don't believe everything you advertise or say. They want to know you're for real and they want to see proof that your product or service does what you say.
Show them you're legitimate by letting them know your credentials, seeing your work, knowing your clientele or how long you've been in business, and also that you're honest, have integrity, and really care.
One of the best ways to prove you can get results is showing testimonials from other customers. This is why "before and after" pictures are used in most weight loss commercials. This can be done with many products.
Other things you can do to overcome skepticism include offering money back guarantees and simple return policies.
Objection #5: Let me think about it/I need to speak with my partner/manager/etc.
Sometimes prospects legitimately need to think about a decision. Or they need to discuss it with someone else. With regards to the latter, ask questions from the beginning to determine if there's another decision-maker. And if so, bring that other decision-maker into the conversation earlier so you can "sell" both decision-makers at once (rather than having to do it twice).
With regards to the prospect requiring time to consider the decision, make sure to follow-up with them while their making that decision. That doesn't mean calling or emailing every hour. But rather periodically checking in on them. Importantly, find reasons to check in. For example, maybe you read about something in the news that you think they'd find interesting. If so, call or email them with the piece of news. When you do, there's no need to even bring up the sale you want to close. Rather, focus on helping them and staying in touch, and each time you do, you'll move closer to securing the sale.
Getting new customers is one of the hardest things a business must do. By considering the objections prospective customer have, and preparing for them (via adjusting your marketing materials and training your sales team), you will more successfully attract new customers. This can and will give you a competitive advantage, and allow you to grow a successful company.
Happy September! For many of us, this week is a turning of the page - from the slower, vacation and family-focused summer months - to the full-on business sprint to the end of the year.
In financial markets, the window between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is often referred to as "Capital-Raising Season," as it is a very active time for companies and investors to connect, to diligence each other, and to do deals.
I call it the "No Excuses" time of year.
Summer is over, the holidays are far away, tax season further, so now is the time to get deals done - growth financings, strategic partnerships, big new customer sales, key new hires you name it - if a mission critical deal is to be done, this is the time of year to do it.
You see, good deal makers get good deals done. Great dealmakers get great deals done fast.
So let’s all set a goal this fall to do twice the number of deals, in half the time, while maintaining and even improving quality. Here's how:
#5. Use the 20% Rule. In a previous post, I described The 20% Rule, whereby improving four key business processes by just 20% each leads to results doubling.
Simply identify four components of your deal-making process - for example 1) marketing-to-lead conversion 2) lead-to-proposal conversion 3) proposal-to-sale conversion and 4) repurchase rate, and then work to improve each by just 20%.
I run through the math here, with the net result of revenue increasing by 2.4X via these “cascading” 20% improvements.
#4. Build a One Month “Micro Plan.” While longer time horizons - 1, 3, 5 years - are powerful and necessary for more “global” business and strategic planning - for many mission critical projects shorter timeframes can be invigorating and catalytic.
For example, let’s look at how to raise capital in one month, a process that is not unusual to stretch out for six months, a year, or longer. To get it done in one month would require:
i. the business plan and all investor presentation materials to be completed in a week to ten days;
ii. a well vetted and relationship-based prospective investor assembled in parallel;
iii. contact with / promotion made to these investors within 7-10 days after completion of the plan;
iv. detailed diligence provided and talked through with those showing interest within an additional 7-10 days; and,
v. respectful yet urgency - driven “closing” done with the most interested prospective parties over just a few days.
Is this an “aspirational” timeline? Sure, but whether or not we actually get it done this fast the act of setting a timeline like this and then working like heck to meet it is in itself transformative.
And you just might surprise yourself and raise money far faster than you thought possible!
#3. Enlist Help. In modern business the old aphorism of “Many Hands Make Little Work” needs to be updated with the caveats that “Many Well Led Hands get High Quality, Important Work Done Fast.”
It is so awesome that modern executives have with just a click of a button access to high quality, on-demand resources of all types: marketing copywriters, graphic and website designers, telemarketing sales help, contract fulfillment and customer service and the list goes on and on...
...for any business process there is quite likely an outsourced provider that can do it better, faster, and cheaper than in-house.
The key is having the know-how to source the right vendors and then leading them such that they seamlessly work together as to “de facto” become in their aggregate part of a full-time, in house team.
Hard to pull off? Well, if you feel this way, then hire an outsourced firm to manage the outsourcers!
This may seem like a Dilbertian Skit, but the reality is that the tools of virtual communication and collaboration are now so good that building a fully outsourced, on demand work model like this often makes far better business sense than the old “all under one roof” W-2 model.
#2. Work Harder. There are actually 168 hours in a week, not 40, and by working both longer hours ourselves along with orchestrating a global team per the above, we can get things done four times as fast as under the old "9 to 5" model.
I like to re-frame working longer hours as a blessing, as the vast majority of people just don't have the opportunity to work hard on challenging and remunerative projects like those of us in the Knowledge Economy.
And oh yeah, in addition to the “it is its own reward” nature of hard work, just plain old outworking the competition is the most tried and true strategy of winning deals in multiple bidder/vendor dynamics.
#1. Recognize that There are No Rules. There are no longer any rules whatsoever as to how long things should take.
Like Amazon making deliveries in 2 hours or less, Uber bringing a driver to your door in a few minutes, and Google giving us detailed answers to the most esoteric and niche questions in just a few milliseconds, the great technologists and innovators among us are constantly resetting the frame as to what fast is.
Let’s bring this “speed sensitivity” to our businesses these next two months.
Identify those areas where incremental (20%!) improvements can have a big cumulative effect, design “micro plans” to make those improvements, get help everywhere and anywhere, work hard, hard, hard, and let go of any pre-conceived notions as to how long things should take.
Do all this and we can rename this “No Excuses” season as the one of “Big Business Breakthroughs” for all of us!
Last week, I wrote about how any business - no matter how "Old School" - can benefit via emulating the strategies of "High Flying" companies in industries like virtual reality, wearables, 3D printing, autonomous driving, and more.
One reader whose opinion I respect wrote back..."Jay, loved the post and agree with the sentiment, but can you make it a bit more actionable? Perhaps offer some specific “high flying” ideas and examples applicable right away to companies in slower growth industries and markets?"
Here are four critical business domains - financing, sales, organization design and goal setting where the high-flyers get it right:
Financing. Most companies in high flying industries raise money (and a lot of it!) on an ongoing basis.
Like Uber raising $8.7 billion over 7 years.
Or Airbnb raising $2.3 billion over 8.
Or Dropbox raising $607 million over 9.
They keep raising money because money buys speed. Speed of product development, of brand-building, of customer acquisition, of team-building and talent aggregation.
Now, for how long will they continue to do it?
For as long as they are in business.
Quite simply, investor promotion is a mission-critical process that should be undertaken by every company of ambition on an ongoing and continuous basis.
For smaller, less "glamorous" companies, look at it this way - if you go out and ask for money, you might surprise yourself and raise it. And if you can't, it's a canary in the coal mine - flagging needing to be fixed problems with your strategic model, your management execution, or both.
Sales. Over the past 15+ years, advising hundreds of companies across diverse industries, I have seen a consistent, disturbing trend: The older, more "established" a business is, the less enthusiastic, inspirational, and “Big Deal Effective” is its sales approach and execution.
Yes, any sales team for any business, no matter the industry, would instantly perform a LOT better by just emulating the "Messianic Enthusiasm" of the high flyers.
Well, you may say, if my business, my industry, my product was as exciting as theirs, then I would be more enthusiastic too!
Enthusiasm, at its heart, is a choice. Let's have our salespeople be as enthusiastic as those at the High Flyers and watch results improve right away.
Organization Design. When it comes to how that "Collection of Humans" that make up how a modern business is organized, long gone and never to return are the days of all a companies' people being W-2 employees working under a common roof.
Beyond a “virtual” workforce, beyond utilizing overseas development partners, best practices around modern organization design include "Scrum-like" reporting structures, all calls being done as video calls, always on chat, in-person meetings conducted standing up, no landline phones, "e-mail free" days of the week, and the complete elimination of office environments altogether.
Of course, not all of these approaches are appropriate for every business, but if your company is not growing then why not try everything and anything so that it does?
This is the high-flying mindset - to never be complacent or "me too," but instead to strive for efficiency and creativity in all aspects of how a company is led and managed.
Goal Setting: High flying companies set big and exciting goals, design bold plans to reach them, and then organizationally work, work, work to make them so.
Compare this with the approach at too many older line businesses. They set goals like “growing 5% next year” or “hiring a new salesperson” or “redesigning the email newsletter.”
In the famous words of Daniel Burnham - “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.”
Dream a little. Push the growth plan right to that edge of “Hot Air.”
My experience is that we are usually pleasantly surprised both by how close we come to reaching those “stretch” goals, and as importantly how much just going out on a limb a bit builds “elan” and confidence in the entrepreneur and the organization.
Financing, Sales, Organization Design, Planning.
Do like the high flyers in these business domains and soon enough your company will be one of them, too.
Earlier this month, I moderated a webinar panel focused on technology and entrepreneurial opportunities in Virtual Reality, a market sector growing at over 100% per year, and transforming industries as diverse as medicine, real estate, entertainment, gaming, and more.
Driven by five amazing panelists from the worlds of entertainment, software, healthcare, and venture capital, it was an inspirational and thought-provoking look at a market space brimming with opportunity, possibility, and bullishness.
It was also the first in a series that over the next few months I will be hosting featuring entrepreneurs and investors from some of the world’s hottest market and technology sectors, including 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence, technology wearables, autonomous driving, and more.
I am doing this because first, it is simply exciting and inspiring to visit with innovators - folks who "connect the dots" between technological change and business opportunity.
And as an investor, I know that the only way to earn outsized profits is to identify businesses early, before they go through their "Hockey Stick" growth phase, and most of these kinds of companies are to be found in fast growth industries like those listed above.
But as importantly, I am hosting these webinars for those of us who do NOT work in high-flying sectors, but who can benefit tremendously from the type and quality of innovation thinking and strategic planning as done in them.
Thinking, planning, and doing that is fresher. More opportunities-filled and possibilities rich.
More easily embracing of new technologies, not just for their core customer value propositions, but also for internal business processes, team building, communication, collaboration, and more.
As I wrote in my Olympics Post last week, we must always be vigilant to maintain this "always innovating" mindset, especially as we and our businesses age and mature.
Unfortunately, too often the media and the world wants us to believe that breakout business success is only for the chosen few - for the young technologists, for the geographically advantaged. For startups.
But this just isn't true.
Breakout success is available to any business, no matter how young or old, no matter its industry or market, so long as its leaders have the guts and the competitive spirit to do whatever it takes to grow their companies.
And a huge part of doing whatever it takes is letting go of the conventional wisdom that so suffocates too many older businesses...
...and instead learning from and emulating innovators who are dreaming and doing big, breakout business things.
The best entrepreneurs and executives in high-flying sectors are exposed daily to the best and latest technologies, to the most creative business thinking and planning, and are infused with the most unlimited sense of business possibility and opportunity.
Let’s learn from and be inspired by them.
And let’s think, do, and dream big things in our businesses like them.
So in the months ahead keep a look out for your invitation to meet these awesome innovators.
And maybe, just maybe, a little of their growth magic will rub off on your business too.
In my last essay, I discussed the three benefits of using outsourced workers (cost savings, reducing overhead, getting work done while you sleep). And then I gave you tips for finding and selecting the right outsourced provides.
In this essay, I'll lay out my system for rapidly training these new hires (it also works for new in-house and/or full-time hires).
Before you start the training
Before you begin their training, take a few minutes to break down the work to be completed into a list of steps, or even a process map (a simple, visual flow chart of how the process will go). As a manager, your job is to create these processes and coach your team to implement them and report the results back to you.
If something goes wrong, it's either because they did not follow the process correctly as you spelled it out -- or there is something less effective about your process to correct. Listing all the steps and putting them in the right order will also clarify your thoughts and give you a guide or agenda to follow when training them.
The simple system for rapid training
Step #1: Explain
This is where you take the time to describe the work to your virtual assistant or outsourced person. Show them the list of action items or an overview of the process. A written summary coupled with a verbal explanation is usually the most thorough way to do this.
Tell them what the task is called (for easy reference later on), what it accomplishes, why it is
important, who will need to do it and when, and how it is to be done, step by step. The
more details you can give, the better, because they will grow to understand you and
your company goals and will be able to handle more things for you later on without
having to ask a ton of questions.
Also, understanding your business model, your customers, and your purpose will help them make more informed decisions along the way -- subtle differences that can turn good work into greatness.
Step #2: Demonstrate
People learn better by seeing an example of how something is supposed to be done. This will teach them better than the longest explanation. Demonstrations can be done in different ways:
1. In person. Example: Demonstrating how to fold and stuff envelopes.
2. On the phone, via webinar. Via phone or webinar you can tell or show a virtual person how to do something.
3. Via video. if you show someone something via a webinar, record the webinar. That way, the next time you need to train someone, they can simply watch the video rather than requiring your time to train them.
4. Hypotheticals. In this case, you would give a few "if-then" scenarios to your hire and tell them what to do or say depending on what happens.
For example, you might write in an email to your hire, "Call Joe Contractor and ask him if the work is about 2/3rds of the way done. If it is, ask him for a range of days and times for me to meet him to do a walkthrough. If not, ask him when he expects it to be and call him back that day."
Step #3: Practice
After learning how to do a task, the hire must then attempt it on their own under your supervision. It's important that you monitor their work for a while until you are certain that it is being done correctly. Otherwise, neither of you will know if it needs improvement.
Find a way to watch them in action or to see the results of their actions. This might be hard for some of you, but let them fail. It is least distracting and demotivating for you to observe the entire process and save your comments for the end.
The whole point of training is for them to get used to the whole process on their own. NOW is the time for them to make mistakes. Hopefully you budgeted enough time for them to practice things a few times and get it right before crunch time.
The way to monitor them could be watching them in person, listening on the phone, or reviewing a finished product of some sort, like a design or written work.
Step #4: Feedback (Positive and Negative)
This is the part of training where you help them to improve at their job by pointing out things that could be done differently or better. I prefer to use the "Feedback Sandwich" approach, in which you tell them what they could do better in between two compliments so it's not harsh or overly negative.
For example, you could say:
Once you have given your feedback, the training cycle begins all over again. Your feedback
is their new explanation (Step #1). You may demonstrate it again if you feel you need to (Step #2), and have them practice it again (Step #3), until you decide that the results are good enough.
A Trained Assassin
When you have decided that your hire is capable of performing the task consistently on their own, they are now officially trained. Be sure to congratulate them on learning the task, and thank them for making your life easier.
And lastly, this rapid training system is not just something to use when they are first hired.
If at any time their performance falls behind, or you want to help them take one of their skill sets to the next level, or you think of something new for them to do, just follow these 4 simple steps again.
Suggested Resource: If you don't outsource, you can't compete. The math is simple...if your competitors are outsourcing and only pay $X to complete a task, and you pay $3X, $5X or $10X, your competitors will eat your lunch. You simply must outsource to stay competitive. Outsource the right way using Growthink's Outsourcing Formula. Learn more by clicking here.
An amazing 3.5 billion people - half the globe - are watching some or part of the Rio Olympics.
Because it is great entertainment.
And because, perhaps more than at any other event, nowhere is on greater display the full range of human emotion, achievement, failure, joy, and heartbreak.
And from it all come awesome wisdoms - on life, relationships, culture, country - and if you look not even all that closely, on entrepreneurship, business and success. Here are six:
6. The World is One. With over 10,000 athletes from 200(!) countries participating, and with fans from all of those countries watching, the Olympics are an overwhelming reminder that global business planning and acting is both a blessed opportunity and a competitive necessity.
This is an especially important wisdom for smaller U.S. businesses, spoiled by easy access to their huge domestic market far too often are, let me say it, just too lazy to explore and pursue international opportunities.
5.The Power of Competition. On my wall as a kid was legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success," with at its top the ultimate goal of “Competitive Greatness.”
And on each rung of the pyramid are its building blocks, the necessary conditions for that Competitive Greatness like:
Industriousness: “Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”
Team Spirit: “The star of the team is the team. We supercedes ‘me’.”
Confidence: “The strongest steel is well-founded self belief. It is earned, not given.”
Poise: “Be yourself, don't be thrown off by events, whether good or bad.”
The point, made especially from the back stories of the athletes and their journeys to the Games, is that the high goal of competitive greatness - of Olympic Gold - then drives the years and years of dedicated, intense practice and training.
And just like in business, this pursuit of Competitive Greatness - of “Performing at your best when your best is required" - in turn forges powerful and life and community changing qualities of character, leadership, and self-belief.
4. Winning May Not be Everything, but it is Extremely Important. The difference between Olympics winning and losing is often measured in mere thousandths of a second.
But the differences in consequences, especially for athletes from poorer countries, is often that between abject poverty and extreme wealth.
The great sprinter Usain Bolt personifies this, sharing the story of how as a teenager in Jamaica he competed barefoot because he could not afford shoes to now where he has parlayed his Olympic success into a net worth of over $60 million.
Similarly, in business, only a very few companies become Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, et al., but it remains critically important to recognize the massive economic importance of winning BIG...
...and thus of baking elements and possibilities of big breakout success into one's business model no matter how low the probability of their actually coming to pass might be.
3. Find the Fun. As an interlude between the Olympic viewing in our home we recently re-watched Mary Poppins, with its so lovely "Spoonful Of Sugar" opening song and its totally great opening lines of...
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game
And wow, does this generation of athletes have their fun?
I am not talking about the famed revelry in the Olympic Village, but more as to the athletes’ laughs, smiles and overall “lightness of being” before, during, and after their competitions.
And perhaps more powerfully, the heartfelt congratulations and condolences shared by and between them throughout.
Much more so than previous generations, these athletes show that we can work and compete extremely hard, and enjoy it with our teammates and competitors as we go.
2. The Power of Team. Every winning Olympic athlete has around them an awesome, specialized team.
All aspects contributing to their peak performance - strength, speed, technique, nutrition, psychology, equipment - is assembled for them by trained, dedicated, and paid experts in that particular domain.
Similarly, any business benefits enormously through engaging specialists to improve key work processes - strategy, sales, marketing, technology, operations, finance, legal, etc.
Now can you stay in business without this kind of expert help?
Well, just like the Olympic athletes without expert teams around them, you can participate in the great game of business.
But you sure as heck aren’t bringing home a medal!
1. The Power of Measurement. The best athletes and their teams measure everything, and then meticulously adjust training regimens, tactics, and strategies as competitive results dictate.
For runners, if they sleep an hour more per night, how much do their times improve? If they forsake alcohol, processed foods, what happens?
If they train at altitudes, or in water, or different types of exercises and duration, how much faster, stronger do they become?
Similarly (and especially now), in business the Big Data and SaaS revolutions allow us to effortlessly and preciously measure every business process - sales, marketing, operations, finance - and the effects of changes to key inputs on results.
We just have to engage the data and commit to adjusting constantly to incrementally improve results.
And as we do, and especially with a great team around us, we too can win that so precious, and so profitable Business Gold.
Why - once we have met our basic needs for food, warmth, and safety - do we work?
There are the usual, default answers.
For Status. Power. In response to a "fight or flight" instinct, hardwired deep in us.
Because when we were young, we saw our parents do it and when we grew up, we wanted to be like them.
What a bunch of hamster on a wheel mumbo-jumbo that makes folks at the end of their life look back and say why did I waste so much of my precious life on that?
Instead, how about this?
Let’s be heroes.
Wikipedia defines a hero as one “who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self-sacrifice…for some greater good of all humanity.”
Now that’s good.
It touches the various dimensions of our being.
Heroism in action is a strong, hard effort - a pushing to the limits of one’s physical endurance.
Heroes are intellectually wise. They are fair, sober, and big, and rarely let anger and fear get the best of them.
And when we are in the presence of a hero, we are spiritually risen up, are we not?
And you know what goes hand-in-hand with heroism?
Hard, honest work - taking great, exquisite care to do things right – is at heroism’s heart.
As is teamwork. And creative work, toward an idealistic end.
As is work on the behalf of the powerless, for and with the young and the old.
As is winning the right way - with grace and with recognition of those that aided in your journey.
And as is trying your absolute hardest and most honest best, and sometimes coming up just a bit short.
Heroic work, in all its forms, is work worth doing.
You know it when you see it. And unfortunately, also when you don’t.
Let’s look for the heroes in our lives - those right around us and those in their blessed multitude in this wide and inter-connected world of ours.
Let’s celebrate them and let’s strive to be like them.
Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the hottest market sectors in the world today, growing from a $90 million business in 2014, to $4.1 billion this year, and then more than doubling to $8.5 billion by 2018 (Goldman Sachs).
Well beyond its “science fiction” roots, virtual reality hardware, software, and applications technologies are transforming industries as diverse as medicine, real estate, entertainment, gaming, and more. And many predict these new technologies will have as profound an impact on personal and business communications and productivity as email, text messaging, and social media.
Webinar Invitation: Entrepreneurial and Investment Opportunities in Virtual Reality
Please click here for a recording of the webinar where I was joined by a select and amazing group of virtual reality entrepreneurs and investors who will share how they and their companies are winning in this incredibly dynamic space.
My panelists included:
On the webinar, they will share:
Who Should Attend
This webinar is designed for two distinct attendee groups:
1) Those connected to the virtual reality industry as entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists.
2) Entrepreneurs and executives intent on learning why and how what is arguably the most important technology revolution happening in the world today will impact and change their businesses.
Please click the link below to listen to a recording of the webinar:
For so many very important reasons - pursuing capital to grow, positioning a business for a sale, recruiting new executive talent - the vast majority of business owners seek to have their companies judged and valued on its future prospects, and not its past results.
The truism of this for any business, and the executives that lead them, should be obvious and freeing.
Obvious in that, of course the past is past, and that concepts of business value are inherently future-focused and determined.
The easiest analogy here is from the world of sports.
Who would be more valuable to a team seeking to win a championship? The 21 year old Chicago Bull rookie Michael Jordan, starting his career with no professional resume or accomplishments, or his 40 year Washington Wizards version, possessive of 6 NBA Finals MVPs, over 30,000 points scored, and universally regarded as the greatest player in basketball history?
Because sports is so visceral, so visual, it is far more obvious than in business to separate and properly rate past performance, and its predictive value for future results.
And this “past is past” motif is freeing, especially as we are confronted with the competitive and technological challenges of our modern, global business marketplace.
Yes, when we are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, “past is past” can be a mantra, convincing ourselves that we can manage and lead our businesses to new and better forms and brand positionings, and not just be defined and “boxed’ by what we have done and been before.
And isn’t this, beyond making money (which is so awesome in its own right!), what draws so many of us to the world of business?
To be masters of our own fate, to have and exercise control, to fight through and against, and to win.
But realistically, the past will always be with us, and it especially will rear its confining head when we seek help to grow and change our business in a big way.
It goes like this: A business plan is prepared, outlining the very bright future for our company that we seek to bring to life.
That plan, along with our company’s past financial statements, are reviewed by a prospective investor / partner and the feedback comes back as:
“I love your big vision and ambitious financial goals, and I want to be involved. But, last year your revenues only grew 10% and your net margins were very thin. So yes, your growth and business plans are awesome, but because of your results-to-date I value your business today as being worth....ZERO.
Now let me be crystal clear. The proof, of course, is in the pudding, the overriding purpose of a business always is to make money, and executives either lead their companies to do so or they do not.
The problem is when we hear, in the said and the unsaid, too much of “stop us in our tracks” feedback like the above, and it gets internalized.
And we pull in our sails, if even ever so slightly.
And we lose just a little of our virtue, and start concerning ourselves with what’s in it for ME and not the organization as a whole?
And we start defining, and not informing, ourselves by our past, and get into that rabbit hole dialogue genre of “it hasn't worked before, so it won't work now."
And too many dialogues, internal and external amongst a company's management team, and slowly but surely that company devolves from being one of promise and potential, to one stumbling along in that dreaded land of the walking business dead.
The way to keep this from happening (or if it is happening to your business, to reverse it!), is to come back to our obvious and so freeing first principles.
That the past is past.
That the most important day of our business life is this one, and then the next one, and the next one, and so on and so forth.
And if we feel ourselves being pulled back to the past and slowed and distracted from our future-focused visions and financial goals...
...let’s refocus ourselves on what got us excited to work in business in the first place.
To look forward. To build. To contribute. To fight the good fight every day in every way.
And yes, to break free of the shackles of the past and into that bright future that is our right and destiny as entrepreneurs and executives of ambition.
“Because it’s there. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has reached its summit. Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”
- George Mallory, English Mountaineer
This past week, I traveled to the island country of St. Kitts and Nevis to visit three amazing executives and entrepreneurs - Messrs. Scott Caines, Errol Douglas, and Denzel Crooke.
These fine gentlemen are spearheading Golden Rock - a real estate development project that will fundamentally transform for the better the lives of the island’s 50,000+ residents, along with those of neighboring islands, including Antigua, Dominica, and Barbados.
The development will be a model of mixed use, combining elements of residential apartments, commercial office space, retail, entertainment, educational, and health. It will be unlike anything ever developed in the Caribbean, and as its vision is brought to full fruition, unlike anything anywhere in the world.
The obstacles to launch and complete a project of this ambition are significant anywhere, but obviously more so in a smaller, tourism-based locale like St. Kitts.
Actually getting it done requires the principals involved to be the polar opposites of dilettantes, possessing of deep, significant financial and technical expertise, underpinned by an inspirational business vision, awesome teamwork and relentless will to win.
Scott Caines, Errol Douglas, and Denzel Crooke are all this and more.
My time with them on their beautiful island was a reset for me, re-grounding me in the truism that of all of the things that serious, talented, decent, and dedicated among us can involve themselves, entrepreneurial, private sector projects are so often the most valuable.
The very smallness of St. Kitts paints this in particularly sharp relief.
Our Golden Rockers, with their remarkable personal and professional biographies, could take on leadership roles at the highest levels of their Island’s government.
Or they could focus full-time on their numerous philanthropic and charitable pursuits.
Or, better yet, they just don’t have to work as hard as they do, and no one on their breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean Island would fault them for it!
But business-building, on this project and others, is where their comparative advantage is greatest and where their impact can be the most profound.
But it goes deeper, more metaphysical than that.
For sure, St. Kitts needs the 1,000 new, private sector jobs the development will create.
And it needs the educational and healthcare and other awesome facilities envisioned as part of its larger development.
And nearby Caribbean islands need the competitive pressure of projects like it to challenge them to “up their game” and not rely on a "beach" and "cruise stop" tourism - based economic model.
But also and oh so importantly our fine friends Messrs. Caines, Douglas, and Crooke need this project because they are cast of the same stuff as George Mallory.
They build, so to say, to put a there there.
Because they can.
And because doing so is the highest expression of their professional muse and entrepreneurial spirit.
And thus, something new, beautiful, and wonderful is brought into the world.