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The 14 Principles for Success in Business (June)

This is the 9th instalment of my 14 Principles for Success in Business, adapted from my book, The Little Guide To your Bigger Future™.

Last time I talked about keeping up with the times. This time it’s all about motivation.

If you’re the boss you should always be looking for new ideas to improve what you do and what others around you do.

Being the boss is not a 9 to 5 job. It’s demanding work. You’ll wear many hats and you’ll always be wearing one of them, both during and outside normal working hours. You cannot afford to become complacent and lose your motivation.

A solicitors’ practice with which I am familiar had a partner who had lost his mojo. He had failed to develop with the business he had actually helped to establish back in the day. He’d simply lost his drive. Whilst his fellow partners and colleagues continued to advance, he became increasingly isolated and disgruntled as he realised no-one valued his opinions any more. His timekeeping ‘lapsed’ and staff began to question what he did around the place. Difficult though it was, the other partners had to engage him in a frank discussion centred around his future in the business. As it turned out, he had no future in the business and was subsequently ‘bought out.’ Without the encumbrance, the business became revitalised.

As a motivator, you’ll always need to be on the lookout for the next big thing – a scheme or project that will improve your company. Always believe that your best idea is yet to come and be prepared to recognise an opportunity when it presents itself. Don’t be put off by others who may not share your drive and insight.

Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach®, makes a valid point when he says, “Try out your ideas on cheque writers.” In other words, test the water with people who would actually pay or invest in your idea, product or service. If they like it, you’re on to a good thing. Have conviction. Stick to your guns.

Michael McIntyre, reportedly the highest grossing comedian in the world in 2012, recently presented a ‘pop up’ comedy gig at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre. Here he tested the waters with an audience by recording the bits of his repertoire that got a laugh and ditching the material that didn’t!

Here’s another personal experience to illustrate the point:

It was 2009. The credit crunch was really starting to bite and everyone was feeling the pinch. Some investment funds had dropped by 30%. My fellow directors and I realised that we needed to do something to help protect our clients’ investments in the future. But what?

The answer came rather unexpectedly during a presentation to us by one of the major financial services product providers in London’s ‘Gherkin’ building. We were shown a fund that had weathered the storm rather well and hadn’t dropped like a stone during the volatility. It involved employing techniques generally available only to large institutional investors prepared to invest upwards of £1m!

It was time for some serious lateral thinking. I put forward the proposition that as we already administered over £350m of collective client money, could our company (as an entity) not be considered a prospective ‘client?’ The proposal was favourably received by the product provider, although it had never been ‘tried’ before, but my colleagues were wary, nervous even, that we were stepping into unknown territory, and could not immediately grasp the bigger picture. But this was a genuine ‘light bulb moment’ for me and I refused to be put off. And so the journey started.

And what a journey! Three years of hard work and numerous, ‘straight talking’ negotiations later, our business launched a company, effectively ‘sponsoring’ two new investment funds with inbuilt volatility protection.

Today, at the time of writing, the funds have over £100m invested in them and over the years have delivered very respectable returns for our clients. As a company in its own right, its capital value (that is, what someone would be prepared to pay to buy the company) is substantial.

I won’t pretend it’s always easy to drum up the energy and drive to present and convince others of a new idea. You’ll meet all kinds of obstacles along the way. But if you have the conviction that you are right, don’t be dissuaded.

Next time: Treat staff well

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