Success! What a slippery word? We want to succeed in business and in life. In other words, we want it all, but how?
Success is so difficult to pin down, just like happiness. Certainly, it is a matter of mindset rather than the result of a coded recipe.
One of the biggest challenge to achieving success in the present day is the speed at which change occurs.
For instance, think for example about Netflix, a great innovation right? It looked like a game changer on the market. However, if we look at their state of health right now, it looks like they won’t last much longer as big players like Disney have entered their market. As a consequence, whether they’ll survive is very much in doubt and it will require them to take big bold decisions, or fold.
Innovation may not be the only way to create a new business, on the other hand it is certainly more fascinating than being a cheap replica of someone else’s brainchild. However, coming up with something truly innovative is harder and harder.
How many people dream of creating success with next big game changer? For instance, how many existing enterpreneurs wish they had an idea to change the world we live in?
As we sit and ponder we see the rise (and sometimes the fall) of new businesses and new ideas, like in the case of Netflix.
Not even initial success can let you easily distinguish true disruptive ideas from stepping stones in an evolving market.
Don’t become someone else’s stepping stone
As business owner or enterpreneur you should dedicate a vast time of your time to, listening, and thinking. Certainly both aren’t easy as they require time, and often time is a rare commodity.
When i say thinking, I dont refer to thinking about our business, users, acquisition costs, customer lifetime value: the type of thinkink required for success must let you sit on the other side of the fence, think like a customer, and think outside your own box.
Are you offering something unique? Does it make lives better? Are you making this world a more exciting place to live? It is an extremely difficult exercise.
Once we start a business we are caged by our own convictions, so entertwined with our own world that what would truly need is to live the equivalent of an out-of-body experience.
We must be capable of looking from the outside in, rather than form the inside out.
As a consequence, thinking must become a continuous process that keeps up with time and change as it occurs.
First of all, project yourself in the future and figure out if the business model we’ve wrapped your idea in can withstand the competition, and what will come next.
If you are starting something new, and you see that your idea works, you have not time to rest on your laurels, you will only have a limited timeframe before you will be required to make a new step ahead to stay alive.
Otherwise, sadly, you might becomme yet another stepping stone for others to walk over in the pond of innovation, however creative your idea was to begin with.
Thinking and exploring go hand in hand
Your “thinking sessions” should produce what i like to call micro-ideas or “hunches” driven more by intuition than facts.
First of all, take notes, keep a diary. Probably 90% of my micro-ideas come just before I fall to sleep while I let my imagination run free and I stop over-rationalising.
When I wake up I try to translate the cloud of thoughts, flashes and scenarios into “what-ifs”.
Try to imagine how you could integrate your micro-ideas and hunches into your business, as slight variations or outright experiments.
You won’t be able to explore all ideas but you should make a point of exploring some.
It is a matter of fact truth that business are more likely to succeed the more experiment they run on average.
This may require you to build a new landing page for your online business, launch a promotion you think may drive traffic to your site, make changes to your existing products, launch a limited edition line, try a different approach to a certain aspect of your business model.
Thinking and exploring go hand in hand. You should not wait all your life for the perfect big idea, but enter into a mindset where you give space to your thinking and you give a change to your ideas to see the light of day.
This process, rather than being a big moment, is a mindset for success that hopefully will help you steer your business until it is recognised as a truly innovative game changer.
It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen overnight. Think of your big idea as a sculpture-to-be and the process of thinking and exploring as the patiend chiselling and perfecting of your raw block of marble.
Fall, fail and rise again.
Some of your ideas will be more radical than others, some may sound outright bizarre to you or others, yet some of these more extreme ideas may be exactly what you need to break out to a new level.
I appreciate all this sounds rather abstract put this way, but why not keep a diary of your more outrageous ideas.
I’m sure sometimes you’ll see a business based on one of your crazy ideas pop up, and there you will realise that you are not alone in thinking about absolutely anything that may become big, revolutionary, disruptive or new.
You will probably find yourself falling in love with one of your ideas that you belive in more than others.
Go for it. Don’t live to regret.
If it turns out to be a mistake, just make sure you don’t burn your candle completely. Use it as a chance to learn from it and keep some resources to see the light of the next idea.
What initially looked like your big disruptive idea may turn out to be just your own personal stepping stone towards something greater.
That’s why this article is all about the mindset for a successful future, because unless you are there, thinking, immagining, following your instinct, exploring ideas, trying out bold steps, then perhaps your should not be an enterpreneur and success for you may be elsewhere.
If you decide to start, don’t your first idea will be your final success, it’s unlikely.
We see so many startups building cathedrals in the desert before folding and collapsing with all the resources, leaving nothing to fuel a better idea rising from the ashes of that first failure.
Failure is key to success.
No one has ever succeeded without many failures along the way. The better you are at this mindset the more you will see your failures as A/B tests, as your experiments along the way, as your process for perfecting the art of recognising truly new ideas.
Insipire with your failures
Success and failure walk hand in hand. Many business people are terrified at the idea of showing even a hint of self doubt or admitting they got something wrong. This mindset leads nowhere.
If you open your world of progressive discovery to others you may discover people will appreciate you for this. You may even become a great source of inspiration. Others may learn from you that success is a mindset not static achievement.
Success is more akin to controlling a flowing river and keeping it flowing, rather than building a dam to stop the flow.
Your bold ideas, your spectacular failures can all inspire others. If you managed to turn every failure into inspiration, it will mean that even your mistakes will have added value, not just to yourself but to those that have followed your progress.
Your business is there to sell to other humans – imperfection is everywhere by definition. Accept it, embrace it, show it, be proud of it. Innovation comes in steps and waves.
Apple may be producing beautiful and slick laptops today, but think at their first products, I dont think anyone though they were beautiful even at the time, and there is a reason, their big idea back then was to make humans more efficient with a spreadsheet and a word processor until they realised that was not what people wanted. It’s when they started to listen first, and then inspire people, that they truly disrupted the market paving their way for their successful future.
Design, scrap, design, sell, design again…
Designing is effectively a result of trying to combine the preceding points into something tangible or usable, hence it is the process o transforming your inspiring, disruptive ideas into producs or services or customer experiences. Designing is a process as much as everything else we discussed.
Don’t worry if your product isn’t perfect, ensure it fills the criteria you set out with, roll out, produce, sell, get feedback, and then go back to thinking, exploring, dirsupting and designing again.
Make inspiration resonate
Don’t hide in your shed until you can walk out months later with your polished finished project, very often it is your very journey to the finished product that creates the bond with your customer, creates the trust, alights the imagination, drives the desire to be part of your word.
Work in a house of glass, open up your entire process and make it accessible, make it stand out.
How many times we hear marketeers speak to big brands about storytelling. Businesses of the past never thought of walking their journeys together with their customers yet crowdfunding platforms like kickstarters showed the power of sharing your ideas, troubles and tribulations right from the start to create hype.
Big corporations did it retrospectively and some have had huge success from adverts that showed what it took to get to where they are – because they made inspiration resonate.
Enhance human life
Your product and services should not be thought of, designed, built and sold with the sole scope of generating a profit.
Even if you managed to inspire with your story and be heard, you must create value for your customer.
Your customer is not just a person who buys your product or service. Your customer is a human being, with all that comes with being human.
You must strive to enhanced human life with what you are creating whether it is in terms of productivity, excitement or experience.
Creating a community has become essential
The journey you take with your customer should be more than a one-way experience. You should engage with your customers, make them part of the whole process, create relatioships, create communities, share, ask, invite, embrace, listen. Let other speak and be part of the yourney you started.
Anything built around a community is far more likely to succeed, as it already has a group of aficionados to get the ball rolling, to give you kudos, spread the word and bring referrals.
We could actually say that it is unlikely that future businesses will be able to even get off the ground if there is no community around them. But that’s just my opinion.
Blood diamonds are not a sustainable business model
Your business should be inextricably tied to your community, it should not just use the community to its own end to achieve a better bottom line, to drive revenue.
Your business should truly benefit the community, and its growth should be sustainable and positive for that community.
The barrier you were trying to break to “mobilise” and create a relationship should not be broken by the business model.
If you don’t add value to the community you create you can’t expect to simply extract the diamonds and walk away as that model is not sustainable and won’t last for long in today’s world.
Amplify your contribution to humanity
Let’s hear it all again.
You need to listen to your thoughts and ideas, explore various alternatives, disrupt and innovate, expand the envelope, immagine, design and create a product or a service whilst inspiring others, making your story resonate, invited the community into you see-through house, sharing your journey that must be able to enhance their lives and create value for the entire community and do so in a sustainable way. Not easy is it?
But, if you managed to do all of this, you would truly belong to the olympus of the few disruptive enterpreneurs that will shape the future.
And if you do, be bold, go for it, think lateral and expand your model, your ability to add value and amplify your contribution to humanity.
We could be content if we once had a good idea but we should not live in regret for not having tried to go for it.
Let’s not fear failure, it is failure that shapes us and prepares our mindset for success.
We should not be selfish, as if we dont think about what value we are adding to the lives of others, we will be doomed to extintion, we should be open, share and inspire others, let them into what we are trying to do, strive to change lives for the better, if not the entire world.
Imagination, ideas, perception are what sets apart from machines.
Artificial intelligence has already proven over and over again that knowledge and information are not the key to success in the future, that any machine can beat us in terms of sheer ability.
We will never be able to compete with a machine again, those days are gone.
But unlike machines we can think of something that doesn’t exist, we can have and interpret emotions, we can have perception, instinct and gut feelings.
For this reason, at least for this generation, it is unlikely that machines will get past the stage of faking these skills without truly possesing them. Certainly, we can’t be be sure what will come next.