Sometimes, ignorance truly is bliss – like when you are enjoying your favorite cheesecake and have no idea how many calories you have ingested. But in business, feigning like an ostrich and putting your head in the sand generally does not work out too well. That is why it is essential to stay on top of the trends in your business, no matter how difficult they may be to hear and accept. Knowing information is the first step in solving emerging problems.
Don’t get me wrong; life should not be spent dwelling on negatives. In fact, positive individuals are 30% more likely to be successful than their pessimistic brethren. But, the most successful leaders inspire confidence through positively addressing challenges and winning through them rather than being positive without knowledge.
How can you identify developing issues in your business?
1) Seek out non-confirming information. We are all hard-wired to find evidence that supports our thesis and ideals. By actively pursuing facts counter to our enthusiasm, we will more concretely justify our beliefs if they are not refuted. A terrific quote by John Maynard Keynes sums it up quite nicely: “There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out.”
2) Talk with people outside of your normal course of business. In the highest levels of any organization, there exists the risk of ‘group-think’ – whereby everyone comes to the same conclusion, not necessarily based on realities, but from wanting to be included as part of a team. To mitigate this risk, pursue dialogue with various individuals that may deliver a different perspective. These might include employees on the shop floor or customers (potential, current or lost). Everyone that is connected to your business has an opinion, learn what it is.
3) Build in some “thinking time” with yourself. Independent thought is one of the most difficult exercises any executive can undertake. This isn’t simply because we can’t find enough time but also because we feel we need to be productive every waking minute. One suggestion – start with 30 minutes a week of completely un-interrupted time to just ponder your business…what would you do if you were to start this business over trying to solve the same customer problems? What are your competitors doing? Why? Who are your most satisfied customers? Why? Who are your least satisfied? Why?
Don’t be an ostrich. Knowledge is power. And, most of the knowledge can be yours for the taking. Think deeply about your business, accept reality and build an effective game plan to be successful. Someone’s got to do it; it might as well be you.
Chris Myers is the co-founder & CEO of BodeTree, the leading support tool for small businesses. Learn more at www.BodeTree.com.