After forty-five years, I can say the life of an entrepreneur—the life you and I chose—is rarely easy.
The moment we begin our enterprise, unrelenting forces start into motion to drive us out of business. We face slumping economies, cost increases, customers who don’t pay their bills, government red tape, high taxes, unproductive employees, competition, obsolete inventory, cash-flow headaches, constant demand for new and better products, and a myriad of other challenges.
If this doesn’t describe your business, and things are going pretty well now, just wait! Changing business cycles guarantee that you too will one day have most of these “character-building” experiences. Adversity will likely become your constant companion!
The Greatest Challenge for Many
In a slumping economy—or even when the economy is good—one of the great challenges of small-business owners is acquiring and retaining loyal customers. The statement in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” just ain’t so for most of us.
The brutal reality is that most people don’t want your product or service, don’t have the money to buy it, or aren’t even interested in hearing about it. If they won’t pay the price you need to sell it for, you don’t have a market. If they won’t take the time to listen to your pitch, you are invisible to them. If they listen but aren’t impressed, you can say good-bye to that sale.
Among those few who might consider your product or service, most will never have your offer enter their conscious mind. The advertising noise is so loud, the communication barriers so high, the competition so stiff, and the choices so many, that the odds of you getting the business are pretty unfavorable!
However, you must learn how to weather the storms of hardship, misfortune, and adversity, because they never end—thankfully. Yes, thankfully! You see, the very process of overcoming hard times is the process that will enable you to build a lasting enterprise. It is a process that will help you discover the extraordinary character that is within you!
J.C. Penny said, “I would never have amounted to anything were it not for adversity. I was forced to come up the hard way.”
Three Important Truths
Truth #1: Small-business owners who persist with courage and determination are a class of heroes in this country—providing wealth and opportunities for millions. I, for one, feel that we should give all the support we can to these unsung heroes—AND THAT INCLUDES YOU!
Truth #2: The entrepreneurial endeavor takes vision, discipline, and perseverance. It is plain hard work, and precious few things come easily. Growing a successful business is like the movie star who becomes “an overnight success” after twenty years. A favorite quote of mine from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes the way it happens for most of us.
“The best companies never transform to greatness in ‘one fell swoop.’ There is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Sustainable transformations [to greatness] follow a predictable pattern of build-up and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.”
Truth #3: This transformation to greatness requires steady dedication to the development of effective business systems and processes. These same systems also help you withstand setbacks, pull out of slumps, and endure never-ending adversity on your upward climb to success.
Systems Thinkers are quick to adapt to changing and challenging circumstances. Why? Because they have a better understanding of how things work, and why they stopped working. They know how to zero-in on a problem with laser precision, and then fix it.
A Business That Lasts
The best-run companies are always in demand—even during difficult times. Marginal companies—those without good business systems and processes (including marketing and sales systems)—come and go. During rapid growth periods, seat-of-the-pants operations and jerry-rigged business systems fail under stress. This is an underlying reason many small businesses fail!
I want to help you develop a company that will endure. The application of true principles—system-building principles—is the best way, and the only way, to do it right.
Begin today to build a business that not only survives but is healthy and prosperous during challenging days ahead!