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The Fine Line Between Success and Failure - not just for start ups

Posted on April 22, 2015 by Neville Gaunt, Chief Executive, Mind Fit Limited www.mindfitltd.com

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” ~ Benjamin Franklin

If you’ve not heard this quote at least once then you haven’t been serious about starting or keeping a business. But have you really thought what does it mean?

So what does it mean?

One thing it’s not is about creating a business plan that once written you think “Phew, glad that’s over” and then it sits on the shelf and gathers dust. I’ve written some of those in the past!

If you’re going to put the effort and time into putting together a detailed plan then at least have the drive and intention to use it as it was intended – as a Plan and therefore as guidance to execute what you’ve
planned to do and be flexible to change it when you go along the journey.

So a lot of your success is about you –

“doing things right and doing the right thing”

which makes you a leader and a manager in the eyes of Warren Bennis or so his quote goes.

What does success look like?

While we often focus on figures like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sir James Dyson and Sir Richard Branson as the lone geniuses behind wildly successful companies, the truth is their skills were bolstered by the teams of talented people working for them. Gates himself has said that creativity is less of an individual characteristic than it is an "emergent
property" that surfaces when people convene around a problem. This way of thinking is beginning to align more and more with the way people want to work.

All of these successful people knew that business was a roller coaster ride, with highs and lows. But they also knew that all they needed was to understand and use the 3 Keys to success – Financial Acumen, Marketing Prowess and Mindset – and that it also meant they needed help to get there, wherever “there” was.

I doubt any of those mentioned would profess to have started out as financial geniuses, or marketing gurus, or even say they are today, but they knew to be successful you needed a team around you that was. They knew the
value of collaboration.

Apart from a chunk of luck, building and working together as a team is what made them successful.

Advice for start-ups and young SMEs – for success

“business is a marathon not a sprint”

and so many people have said it in one form or another but I like to think of it as being aware about opportunities and taking the quick wins, because you at least have to survive, but building what you are doing for the long haul.

All businesses are competitive, otherwise, and not least in my view, they’ll fail. But the differentiator for start-ups and young SMEs, as it has always been, is to be smart and collaborate. So being smart would be to go and get the financial and marketing support you need.

“You don’t know everything and you need help” is a phrase you should engage with and embrace. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure – it’s about being smart, or as I like to say being Mind Fit.

The financial business experts – two options

You may be surprised about there being only two options, but the reality is there are many options but remember this isn’t your specialism so let’s stick with two to start with. Most will choose the First option, simply because they have to file accounts and do annual legal returns. So Option One is get an accountant or bookkeeper to do the books.

It will keep you legal and they’ll do the books and probably give you some extra advice if you want it. But there is a better Second option. And that’s to have an advisor beyond the accountant, who really understands about start-ups and young SMEs.

If you know me, you’ll know that money (all things financial) is my background and I’ve met a lot of good finance specialists in all sorts of industries and sectors. But when it comes to start-ups and young SMEs the ones who know a lot, and go the extra mile with practical help are also the ones that close companies down – the practising insolvency specialists.

This is of course only my view but the good ones seem to have a second sight and foresee difficulties so you can take the right path and avoid them. Of course it’s all down to experience and practise and as they see a lot that have failed, it’s not surprising they can see things we can’t, or refuse to see.

Failure – it happens so be prepared

This link is an example of what the process is (UK example) if for whatever reason the business fails. But remember, it didn’t fail because it ran out of money – the effect of the failure was much earlier along the track.

There are no guarantees to success, just the choice to go along a better path and learn from others that failed and succeeded.

It’s always a choice. What’s yours?