Excerpted from the book on conscious business management, Business Black Belt
Success comes before work only in the dictionary.
~ Vidal Sassoon, hair designer
We’re led to believe that most businesses were built with less effort than they really were.
Someone has got to do the actual work of your business. I remember when I was a little kid, my grandfather took me for a walk down the street. He showed me this fabulous home. It belonged to a garbage collector. He explained to me how this man started out by offering to take out the neighbors’ garbage. Soon he was doing the whole neighborhood and charging for it. He ended up owning the largest garbage company in Los Angeles. He was wealthy for sure, but his fortune did not come without a lot of dirty work—literally.
By the time I came along, my grandfather had already made his money in the tubing distribution business. He had already done the dirty work and all I saw was the wealth. I saw the ease, the affluence, and the nice things but I didn’t see what it took to make them. I would hear stories about how he built his company, how he’d been there until late at night cleaning tubing, how he borrowed money from his family and risked everything by taking chances.
Don’t believe what you read
You’ll see a cover story in a magazine claiming Joe Blow has built a successful company from scratch, with no education or experience, coming from a poor family, and overcoming all odds to become successful. We read two pages about his success, get all excited, and think, “If he can do it, I sure can do it!” But many articles are misleading, because we think it takes less time than it really takes. Many of us never really see what it takes day to day to build a business. Perhaps in their effort to inspire you, some writers lead us to believe that this person either got really lucky or they were very smart and made things happen in an incredibly (meaning, “not believable”) short time. What makes matters worse is that the person being interviewed—and I’ve been guilty of this myself—makes the process sound easier than it really was because the easier it sounds, the smarter he or she looks. It’s wrong to set your expectations for the kind of business success you should enjoy on a minimal effort you might be willing to put in. The successful person you read about appears to have worked less than they did, invested less money than they did, and had fewer problems than they really did. 5
You’ve got to be prepared and willing to do more work and solve more problems than you could ever imagine. Magazines are full of stories of how people handled problems—you will face most of those problems combined. That’s why you must absolutely positively love what you are doing and what your business is about.
Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.
~ Paul Saffo, Institute for the Future
Ideas and advice are worthless without implementation
People who want to come along just for the ride aren’t very helpful. They’ve got to be willing to help drive. Standing back in a safe place “advising” is not very helpful. In fact, when someone comes along and offers a suggestion as to how to solve a problem (a consultant, employee, or prospective employee), I think, “Great!” Now someone has got to go make it happen. “Make it so” as Jean Luc Piccard of Star Trek: The Next Generation says. That’s where this employee or consultant can be of real value, by actually implementing their solution and taking full responsibility for the results. These are the people who get paid the big bucks, the ones who can actually implement their innovations. Standing back and saying “I told you so” is worthless. Enough said.
Chop wood. Carry water.
Business Black Belt Notes
- We don’t usually see what it took to make a business successful.
- Those who make the big money are the implementers.
- When you build a business to a certain level, you’ll start to attract everyone who has a product or service to sell to businesses. And things to do, problems to solve, and projects will multiply.
- Because it takes more work than you can imagine to be successful, it’s crucial that you love what you do and what your business is about.
5 Sigafoos, Robert Allen. Absolutely, Positively Overnight. Memphis, St. Luke’s Press, 1983.
Read the real story behind Fred Smith’s experience founding Federal Express and you’ll see a harrowing story of building FedEx that would scare off most business people.