No one expects to play chess for the first time, go to a tournament, and win.
We all know that we need a certain amount of mastery to have our chances to win.
And the same thing happens in almost all disciplines in the world.
But in business, somehow, we think we just need a good idea to build a successful business.
The reason to that is that business requires “invisible” skills, and that’s why it’s so hard to realize that.
If you are a good doctor, good at sales, at chess, dancing… Everybody can see it. It’s obvious that you need extrem preparation.
But in business isn’t obvious because business performance is judge mainly on results – and results often don’t match the level of skills.
Someone unskilled can get very lucky, and the opposite can happen too!
To me, business is one of the most complex (and fulfilling!) activities one can ever do, and therefore, it requires to learn and mater many different skills.
There are so many different areas one needs to master to be able to compete at a high level.
And probably our competition has much more experience and knowledge than us.
So having a good idea it’s just the first indispensable step into climbing the business-mountain.
And to climb that mountain, you need to master a wide range of areas and skills.
To me, these basic areas and skills are direct-marketing, marketing, sales, branding, positioning, copywriting, pricing, profitability, business models, product management, accounting, company culture, psychology, customer service, hiring…
Among a few more depending on your industry.
If you lack knowledge in only one of those it can mean the difference between success or failure.
“Nothing wins more than superior preparation”.
And more than skills and knowledge, we also need philosophies to approach how we do things.
And what I’m going to share now it’s what I believe are the three most important philosophies I learned to build a successful company.
It’s what I learned during the last ten years, and I believe it can help anyone to increase their chances to Win.
The first philosophy is:
- Learn from success, not from failure.
Learning from failure is important to not make the same mistakes again, but as a strategy to succeed I think it’s overrated and, in my opinion, it doesn’t work.
Business isn’t black and white.
If we failed at something because we chose “black”, it doesn’t mean that the answer was “white”. There are millions of colors and shades to choose from.
There are almost infinite ways in which we can do something wrong.
And there are only a very few ways to make things right.
That’s why it’s so crucial to learn these very few ways.
In fact, there’s a study that shows that successful entrepreneurs have 40% more chances of success in their new businesses.
While entrepreneurs who haven’t been successful yet, have the same chances to succeed as first time entrepreneurs.
Then the question is: how do we learn from success when we haven’t succeeded yet?
These are the best ways I’ve found:
- Find someone who is already successful at what you want to do, and ask him or her to help you.
This is the quickest way to build a successful company.
It’s like taking an elevator to go to the roof of a skyscraper, instead of taking the stairs.
As you can imagine, when you’re doing exactly the same thing that is already working, your chances of success will be very, very high.
With time, you will improve what you learned because each business is different, but as a starting point, this is the best.
Another way to learn from success is:
- Reading high quality books about the areas and skills you need to master.
Jim Rohn said, “Here is the big challenge of life: to have more than you got, you have to become more than you are”.
Reading is the best way to become more.
Reading is what will make you and keep you successful in the long term.
Reading changes you. Your brain and mind work differently.
In the same way that if you do mental math everyday your brain and mind changes, when you read everyday your brain and mind changes too.
Sometimes books’ content are not as actionable as direct advice, but in the long term it will give you your biggest edge. It is the only competitive advantage that will be with you forever.
I recommend reading a minimum of one hour a day. Ideally two.
I like reading the first hour when I arrive at the office, and the first hour in the evening.
Some people say that they don’t have time to read. That they have too much work and more important things to do.
In my opinion, if you can’t make time to read, you can’t make time to build a successful company.
The challenge is that the effects of not reading aren’t seen immediately.
In a few years, if things don’t work out well, entrepreneurs don’t think that it was because they weren’t reading enough, while in my opinion that was exactly the reason.
It’s not enough to have a sharp brain, you need the judgement. And that’s what you get by reading.
Finally, the last way to learn from success is:
- Watch paid courses about what you do, or want to learn.
Paid is the most important word here.
Discard ALL free content.
You might find something good once in a while, but the price you’re paying for it is prohibitive.
Losing countless hours of your time, consuming misleading content, getting addictive content (through curiosity), low quality content, shallow content, repetitive content, endless and overwhelming content, and watching what is pushed to you through search engines algorithms instead of what you consciously choose to learn.
Don’t watch free content, don’t use Youtube to learn.
If that would work, everybody would have successful companies.
Watching paid content is always better in so many ways.
Paid content can be extremely useful. Very relevant. Very actionable. Very relatable. Very detailed. Very well explained… And it’s updated. It’s high quality. It has support. It may have a community…
And because you have invested in it, you really want to watch it, and apply it.
Remember that the best investment you can ever do it’s in yourself.
Now, we’re going to look at the second philosophy:
- Think smart, don’t work hard.
As entrepreneurs we usually believe that working hard is a pillar for success.
But working hard is too easy.
Anyone can do it.
You will see many people working hard in many industries.
From entrepreneurs, ceo’s, managers, architects, bartenders, construction workers… but working hard doesn’t create wealth.
Wealth is built through thinking. Through smart thinking.
“Wealth is the result of man’s capacity to think.”
By thinking smart I mean spending most of your time improving your thinking through learning, acquiring new ideas, new thinking patterns, new skills…
And then, create spaces in which you just think.
Don’t obsess about working and working and working. Any task that can be outsourced should be outsourced (if you can afford it).
Doing a task doesn’t add value. The value is in thinking about how to do the task.
Do the task only if it will help you to understand it and to create a better process or system.
Then delegate it, and keep your focus on new things.
That will put you in a position where you are always thinking and making new decisions.
And making new, and good decisions, is the most important element for success. Executing them is secondary.
I also recommend having a clear working schedule and when it’s done stop. Don’t work anymore, you need rest.
And in your resting time, it’s best to not look at screens. Avoid TV, tablets, laptops, phones, video games…
The best ideas come when your mind is fresh, when you’re not thinking about them, and not looking at screens.
And the last philosophy is:
- Don’t wait for luck, but be very aware of it.
To create a successful company you’ll need luck.
As entrepreneurs, we don’t like to accept that. We want to believe that everything is in our hands.
But in my opinion that’s not how life works.
We need luck because no one can know everything, nor predict everything, nor control everything.
But accepting that you need luck in business will give you an edge.
When you accept that, you’ll start asking yourself:
“What does it need to happen, and what do I need to do and know, to have as close as 100% chances of success?”
Questioning that will help you to always be hungry to discover and learn new things, putting yourself a step in front of your competition.
This is especially important to discover: what you don’t know that you don’t know.
You cannot learn something that you don’t know that it exists ––but this same thing that you don’t know that it exists, it is already affecting you.
Besides that, some people say that “success is the worst teacher”. As I’ve explained I think it’s the opposite.
But what I do believe too is that “luck is the worst teacher”.
When you succeed at something, it’s partly because you had some luck.
So it’s vital to look in which part you have been lucky.
I believe that entrepreneurs who have been successful in the past, and can’t make it again, it’s because they don’t realize where they have been lucky before.
Or if they do realize, they don’t see how this luck compensated for their lack of skills in other areas (at least that’s what happened to me!) – or maybe they just need some luck!
So, if you don’t see it, you didn’t learn it. And if you don’t learn it, you cannot improve it, double down on it, you can’t leverage it, and you can’t replicate it the next time.
In this case, you will need the same luck again but it might not happen.
Those were the three philosophies I wanted to share with you.
- But before closing this post, I’d like to clarify something.
This post was about creating a successful company.
But success in itself is way more than having nice revenues and nice profitability.
It’s also to build a company with values, that you like the people with whom you work with, that you like its mission, that you genuinely care and help your customers, and that it fulfills you.
Without this, economic success is worth very little.
Also, in my opinion, being a successful entrepreneur is not about building a successful company.
Building a successful company is a by-product, it’s a consequence.
A successful entrepreneur, or person, is defined by their values.
And it’s through these values that professional success emanates.
Stephen Covey, in his famous book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, explained clearly how the meaning of the word success has been changing over time.
In the beginning of the XX century success was attributed to ethics of character. That included characteristics such as humility, fidelity, integrity, courage, and justice.
Then, in the middle of the XX century it changed to the personality ethic. Success then was attributed to personality traits, skills, public image, behaviors…
It’s clear that Einstein didn’t like the definition of success of his time when he said:
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
Nowadays, success has a very different meaning than in the last century.
Now it has a materialistic meaning.
It’s associated with status, fame, money, expensive things, expensive experiences, and many more things that aren’t necessarily good for our deeper needs.
All those things might bring a momentary feeling of excitement, and rush, but it fades quickly, and it leaves us in a “hamster wheel” always chasing for more.
And, in the end, it doesn’t bring lasting happiness or satisfaction.
What we’re all looking for is: joy, health, inspiration, love, security, meaning…
Personal success –and professional success– is, in my opinion, how you choose and live with your values, so it’s helping you to achieve all these feelings that are so deeply ingrained in ourselves.
And the best part of it, it’s that this is reachable for all of us, and it only depends on us.
So, what is your definition of success?
P.S.: If you’re starting a new business then I’d first recommend to choose a type of product that it’s already sold in the market and just try to improve it – and sell it in a better way.
Don’t try to go with a product type that people is not buying and that you need to educate your potential buyers about it.
Also don’t join a big, saturated, and competitive market. Try to start with in a niche market. It will be way easier.
When you have the right product, then, your only big concern is to sell it and make a profit.
Choose one sales channel or traffic source and be the best you can at it.
By that I mean choosing between FB or IG ads, Youtube ads, Amazon, Etsy, or what you think it can work for you (if you don’t know which one to choose look what your competitors are doing).
Never, ever, ever, ever… try to start selling in more than one channel in the beginning.
“Diversification might reduce risks, but concentration builds wealth” – Warren Buffet.
And remember that strategy changes over time.
You might want to have a company with premium prices, but in the beginning it’s better to undercut the market, make it easier for you to sell in the beginning, generate testimonials, reviews, improve the product, your marketing, get momentum, and over time you can raise prices.
That’s it, I wish you all the best!!