Categorized | Publisher's Letter

A tale of the dinosaur

In the course of running the business side of Advantage, I encounter many owners of a variety of different kinds of businesses. It seems that at every organized event and chance meeting, I hear success stories and meet the people behind those successes. Sadly, I also hear many stories of failures resulting in business closings.

What makes some companies succeed while others fall by the wayside? Many factors come into play—from having the right product or service at the right time (or the wrong product at the wrong time!), to planning well and working the plan. Although it is not always possible to identify the factors that lend themselves to a specific success or failure, one thing has become apparent to me: Successful businesses are run by individuals who realize they never know as much as they need to.

Stephen Covey calls this type of humility “sharpening the saw.” To me, however, understanding (and accepting) that you don’t know as much as you need to know is really the only way to stay ahead of your competition.
And make no mistake: Every business—no matter how large or how small—has competition. And the goal of each of your competitors is to steal your customers!

The cold, harsh reality of running a business is all about understanding and outdoing the competition.

Earlier in my career, when I consulted with business owners, I tended to mind my words more carefully. I think I wrapped them up in nurturing vocabulary as I encouraged business owners toward their success goals. Now, I am much more direct, and my advice is straightforward: Now is the time to be open to new ideas, step outside your comfort zone, and learn new ways to stay ahead of the game. If you don’t, you’ll become a dinosaur, a creature that did not change when change needed to me made.

An example of leaving your comfort zone and blazing a new trail is with social networking. Social networking sites have exploded in popularity. When I hear business owners say, “Oh, I just don’t get it!” or “I don’t care about Facebook,” I feel sorry for them. What they don’t realize is their businesses are slowly taking a back seat to those whose owners have the courage to try new things. Technology waits for no one. If you doubt me, consider this: The text generation is growing up thinking that e-mail is for old people!

I know it is inconvenient to register for an online course, sit through a workshop, compare notes with your peers, and take the time to keep yourself up-to-date. But do you have a choice?

Becoming knowledgeable gives you the edge you need. I prefer to learn about dinosaurs by going to the Museum of Science and History—not by reading about their demise…

Until next time,

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