The Hidden Metric of Success
What does it take to get your fledgling business off the ground? Yes, strategy, timing, and financial resources are important. But there’s one additional and essential component you must have to ensure your start-up has the best chance of becoming a financial success—or to bring any worthwhile dream into reality.
Episode 12 - The Hidden Metric of Success
“I was at the right place at the right time!”
“I was fortunate to have the right people working for me.”
How many times have you heard a business owner or entrepreneur offer a self-deprecating quip that minimizes his or her hard-earned and well-deserved success?
It’s an overt show of modesty — and it’s about as far from the truth as you can get.
Hey, Welcome Back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of Success Point 360.
So what does it take to get your fledging business off the ground? What are the necessary ingredients to ensure your start-up has the best chance of becoming a financial success?
I asked this question during a monthly meeting of an entrepreneurial group I joined a few years ago.
The participants included corporate vice presidents, physicians in private practice, senior-level managers, a retired military officers turned business consultants, and several entrepreneurs and business owners with seven-figure annual revenues. All of these folks are successful people who meet to share their ideas and experiences, and most importantly, their passion for success.
What came from that discussion is what I call the Three Metrics of Success — the three most common traits of those who have come out on top.
They’re not difficult to learn and are actually simple to implement. But if you take any one of them away, your chances of success drop in half.
Let’s take them one at a time.
The first is Strategy
I’m amazed by the number of people who tell me they have no plan or blueprint to guide them in their new venture.
Worse, some have given little or no thought to how they’re going to support themselves in their transition to being an entrepreneur. And yet, they’ve already shared their intention to leave their current job . . . with their boss.
These folks are leaving their future up to chance, or believe they can just “wing it,” and it will all work out for the best.
And that is a formula for financial disaster.
If you’re going to make a transition, you need a plan.
And contrary to what a lot of business and life coaches tend to suggest, this does not have to be a detailed set of instructions that moves you from point to point until you cross the finish line, but simply a set of benchmarks that represents progress in the right direction.
It’s important that any plan that is designed to move you from an employee to self-employment retains a lot of flexibility. This allows you to respond and adapt to changing circumstances. Trying to rely on a rigid checklist of task-oriented functions, for example, create a business plan, seek financing, and research traffic counts, narrows your mindset, and it makes you far more likely to ignore or overlook spontaneous opportunities and short cuts.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need a strategy for your start-up, because you do. Just keep in mind that strategy is a process, not a to-do list. And it’s an on-going process, and like any plan with a substantial objective, it needs to be periodically updated to be effective. Because things change, and they can change very quickly. Markets rise and fall. Competition comes and goes. And new advancements in technology can reduce your probability of success to zero—or, they can open up new possibilities and opportunities.
If you don’t know where to start, study the example of others who’ve done what you want to do. You can also ask for suggestions from those who work in the industry. And it doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. I receive emails all the time, from people I’ve never met. They are people who want an opinion or some advice about some aspect of a new business launch. Some ask for a referral or they want feedback about an industry vendor that they’re considering doing business with.
So choose someone whose opinion you trust and respect, and ask your questions. While there’s always a chance you won’t receive a response, you won’t know for sure, unless you ask. And you’ll be surprised how many successful individuals will take the time to answer your inquiry.
Let’s talk about the second essential metric for success . . . Taking Daily Action
If this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. Because it works. And it means doing something….every day…. that moves you closer to your goal.
It might something as simple as doing an hour of research, or contacting someone for a referral or introduction. Or maybe it’s time to learn a new piece of the puzzle that will allow you to take the next step forward.
Regardless of the specific task, Success comes from doing — obtaining feedback, making corrections, and doing it over and over, until you obtain the result you want.
And while you’re actively pursuing your plan, stay aware of what’s going on in your chosen industry. Read the trade journals, attend the conventions and seminars. Don’t fall into the trap of spending several years designing a product or service only to find out the market has changed or the competition has made your product obsolete.
Ideally, you want to spend as much time as possible in front of potential customers. Ask for their opinion and feedback. You may find a strategic business partner or an alliance that was just waiting to happen.
Let’s move on to number three: Intelligent Persistence
Your competition wants the very same things you do. The ones who achieve success are tenacious and determined — no matter what the challenge or obstacle.
It’s true that continuing to push forward in the face of adversity can be uncomfortable, stressful, and even scary.
But so can working at a job you hate.
So don’t give up on a whim. Don’t throw away the investment you’ve made in time and recourses because you hit an obstacle. If you don’t see an immediate solution to the problem, or don’t know what to do next, find someone who has the experience and expertise and hire them to coach you, or to directly intervene on your behalf. No one gets to the finish line by themselves. Success is built on collaboration and cooperation. In most cases, what you gain will far exceed what you give up if you pursue you goal as a team, rather than a maverick.
Those are the three tools – Formulating a strategy, Taking daily action, and being intelligently persistent.
With repeated use, these three “tools” become a mindset — a combination of planning, action, and attitude. And with plenty of years to look back on, I assure you that each one has been critical in achieving a measure of personal and professional success.
From the perspective of most of the members of the group, we should have been done. But we weren’t.
There was something missing.
And that something had come up several times in our discussion. And it was such an implied essential that we hadn’t bothered to define it, assuming that it was a prerequisite would naturally exist in anyone who strikes out on their own to pursue financial independence.
We were wrong
We had taken it for granted, and not because we’ve overlooked it. It was often expressed in an offhand comment or in the example of someone who’d gone the distance— in spite of the odds.
And the more we discussed it, the more we realized this underlying influence was a critical component to bringing any worthwhile dream into reality.
One of the entrepreneurs in the group described it this way:
“Many of my hiring decisions have less to do with the qualifications of the applicant and more to do with how badly the person wants the job. Not only do they need to convince me they really want it, they have to know why they want it. Otherwise, there’s a real chance they don’t understand the realities of the day-to-day work, and in three or four months, they’ll quit.”
He called it the realities of the day-to-day work.
Everyone in the group presumed that a burning personal desire to do the work was already there, but we realized that’s not always the case.
The desire to succeed often originates from false or fantasized expectations. They can originate from media stories about quick success or the promise of a potential fortune available to anyone who can put up a website, or write a fifty page book on their favorite hobby.
This desire, this need to do the work, and do it well, prompted our group to add a fourth metric to the list, one that is every bit as important as the other three. Because, without it, the other three are virtually ineffective. And it’s doubtful you’ll make the difference you need to make to become successful at the work you’ve chosen to do.
Here’s that fourth metric, and it comes in the form of a question:
After you’ve identified your objective, after you’ve described the outcome you’re hoping to achieve, ask yourself this: Do you really want it — in its most tangible form — or are you fantasizing over the idea of having it?
Many of us are in love with ideas.
We’re constantly flooded with media-promoted celebrities and reality-based TV shows about the latest entrepreneurial trends, we’re motivated by the free-wheeling, conspicuous consumption of those who supposedly struck it rich with just a few years of work.
We imagine what it would be like to enjoy the same perks — the money, accolades from our peers, and receiving all that recognition for our accomplishments.
It’s a grandiose fantasy, and unfortunately, it’s the reason so many people pursue a career, a project, or even a relationship — doing it for the ego-stroking they hope to receive.
So if there’s even the slightest chance your ambition is driven by a need to impress or influence others, or gain the respect and recognition of your peers, that’s the wrong motivation. And in the end, or long before you reach the end, you’ve going to be disappointed.
Because others could give a rat’s ass about your success.
I’m not talking about your spouse, or your family, or those closest to you. I’m talking about business associates, competitors, vendors, and the guy who works behind the counter at the 7-11.
Oh yeah, they’re friendly, and always say hello every time they see you. They may even act concerned, asking you how you’re doing, or how your business is coming along.
But the more success you achieve, the more those fair-weather friends will distance themselves.
They will not want to be reminded of their own frustrating, mediocre life.
And doing it for them, for the prestige or the bragging rights, isn’t worth it. That will bring you a terrible return on your investment.
So make sure you really want the experience of what you’re going after, and not because of how it will impress others.
Let’s boil this down to a few final and important points:
Before striking out on a new venture, ask yourself why you want it. Your desire should be is based on personal goals and objectives, and not on ego-driven fantasies.
Make sure your intentions are driven by a love of the work, a need to participate in the daily grind, and feeling good about yourself and the way you’re spending your time.
Next, Take inventory of your talent, skills, and resources.
Don’t over-estimate your proficiency in sales, or negotiating, or other critical business skills.
It’s a common miscalculation to dismiss the importance of an ultra-competitive level of expertise by telling yourself you’ll never need it.
Here’s a newsflash: You WILL need it.
So be prepared to hire professionals or use contract services to round out your team.
Then, Commit to the work.
Your good intentions won’t pay the bills.
You may fully intend to change your life or start a new business, but all those good intentions won’t matter one iota if you don’t have the stamina and actions to get the work done.
Finally, we get to the bottom line: Either Go get it, or let it go.
The middle ground is a special kind of hell reserved for well-intentioned failures who punish themselves with the lingering memory of regret.
Having said that, here’s the good news: you always have a choice.
You can change your situation or accept it. But dwelling on it — trying to imagine what might have been, or if such-and-such hadn’t happened — is a devastating waste of energy.
Even worse, you’re throwing away your most valuable asset: Your time.
You get a limited window to test yourself, to compete, and to strive toward the goals you set. Don’t waste it. Enjoy the challenge, and accept the outcome as a result of the decisions you make, because when you add them up, those decisions will determine the quality of your life.
Hey, that’s it for this episode. As always, there’s a transcript available at www.successpoint360.com. Just click the link under the appropriate episode.
Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
© 2020, Roger A. Reid