Last week I was invited by a Belgian consultancy company to participate in a full day workshop whereby everybody was assessed regarding one’s behavior profile within a professional setting. I was lucky to have the chance to interact with a lot of peers and it inspired me for this post to share a couple of subjects we discussed and where I reflected upon after this fruitful day. Needless to say it was especially at the informal drink afterwards that most subjects where touched upon.
Having A Vision
When it comes to survival, we are visual animals. As a species, our eyesight is our most developed sense. We have stereoscopic sight that can detect a wide variety of colors and shading. This, in turn, lets us see easily see patterns and movement. These combined abilities allowed us to avoid becoming dinner while trying to get dinner for ourselves. Our vision helped us to physically succeed, and it still does today.
When it comes to business success, vision is no less important to survival. However, instead of our sense of sight, this vision involves our sense of imagination and possibility. Vision, in the business sense, is really the ability to visualize successful outcomes. It is the ability to imagine positive results. It is, at its heart, the ability to lucidly dream of where you want to go with your business.
Don’t be afraid to dream. As Henry Ford once said, if you think you can do something or if you think you can’t do something, you’re right. So, spend a few minutes each day visualizing where exactly you plan on going and you plan on getting there. This is not daydreaming, far from it. This is focused development, scheduling and organization. Plan your day by seeing the optimum outcomes. This is the same process that athletes use to hone their performance. When you imagine yourself succeeding, you are more likely to actually succeed. Remember, if you don’t take the time to build your own dreams, someone will hire you to take the time to build theirs.
Network and Connect With Other Professionals
In business, as in life, you can’t go it alone. It’s said that none of us are islands, but if we were each of us form a vast and interconnected archipelago. Bridges and boats stream traffic between all these islands and that traffic is largely information. If you cut yourself off from this flow of information, either purposely or by mistake, you do so at your own peril. Why? Because the island next to you is going to take those connections and the information they provide and use it to his or her advantage.
Networking is an essential element of every successful business. It provides you with contacts, leads, clients, partners, suppliers and much more. It carries your name and your business reputation farther and more efficiently than most advertising. Most importantly, it is an endless source of profit, ideas, collaboration and support. If you are networking, you should do more. If you’re not networking, you need to start. If you don’t network, your business will stagnate and die.
When you’re networking you need to keep a couple of important points in mind. First, every social or professional engagement can provide you with an opportunity to network. There’s often nothing more formal about it than an exchange of information and follow-up connection. Remember, as a business owner you’re always “on the clock”, so to speak. Be ready to take advantage of a potentially lucrative networking situation should the opportunity arise.
Second, when you are networking treat people naturally, the way you’d want to be treated. Offer no strings advice. Often solving a problem for free generates more long-term profit than the cost of the advice or service. Also, listen more than you talk. Silence really can be golden when you take the time to hear what another person is saying.
Finally, always remember that honesty is the best policy. Don’t promise something that you cannot produce. Don’t be someone you’re not in order to close a deal. Be yourself and watch those connections grow!
Use Competition To Your Advantage
The world is built, to some extent, on the concept of competition. Everything living competes for specific resources that are needed to grow, thrive and outperform ecological rivals. Sunlight, space, water and nutrients are utilized to fullest extent by the smallest to largest creatures wherever they are found and in whatever quantities. As human beings, we are hardwired to engage in this competitive contest too. It’s a part of our genetic heritage and one every business owner needs to embrace.
The problem is that some people perceive competition as a somewhat undesirable trait. This is because these people look at competition as a black and white issue. It is seen as either a win at all cost, take no prisoners proposition or as a watered down and barely discernable version of itself, where consensus and agreement are the order of the day. This imposed polarity masks the true nature and power of competition. In reality, competitiveness is neither a black nor white extreme. Instead, genuine competition is a valid force for positive change.
The successful business person knows that healthy and honest competition is the motive force behind innovation. The business world, like the natural world, is driven forward by this continuing innovation that occurs in response to changes in the existing environment. In the natural world these changes are largely climactic. The life form that best adapts to these changes survives and thrives. In the business world, these changes are socio-economic. The business that best predicts market trends and meets demand most efficiently also survives and thrives.
As a business owner, you need to remember that competition is the lifeblood of the marketplace. It not only drives innovation, it also inspires creativity and helps build new paradigms. Don’t shy away from your natural competitive nature. You are in the game to win the game, so are your fellow business owners. Challenge yourself and challenge them in the process. Through competition you each drive the others to better products, services and performance. Each winner shows the way to the next level, the next round and the next race. Remember, competition is the true heart of business success.
Have conscious day!