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The Zen of Business Mastery

The 10 Minute MBA introduces you to Business Mastery

Have you ever started a new project in your business only to have a niggling doubt in the back of your mind that you aren’t doing the right thing or that you’ve maybe missed out a key step or component?

Ever had to deal with a member of your team and thought that your approach had been in-effective?

Have you ever found it difficult to explain your business strategy to someone from outside of your business?

When you need an elevator pitch, do you struggle to formulate a clear picture of what your business actually does?

Unfortunately, none of this stuff is adequately covered or taught at business school and this can leave you feeling unsure about your decisions.

But what if you could be totally Zen about your business?

By Zen I mean calm and sure footed like a Zen Master; which means:

Always knowing the right course of action to take.

Always knowing that you have covered every aspect of a task or project.

Confident that you are managing the cash in your business effectively and productively.

Instinctively knowing how to set up any business so that it dominates its market place.

Effortlessly knowing how to market your business effectively and economically and how to zone into the right frame of mind for marketing by thinking of just one word.

How to manage the operation of your business with a masterly calm by:

Providing an atmosphere where people manage themselves and deliver the best possible experience to your customers.

Creating a system to manage your money in the best possible way.

Setting up your business so that staff, customers and suppliers continually provide you with a stream of great business improvement ideas.

Easily identifying areas of financial waste and re-cycling this into immediate bottom line profit.

Calmly installing and proliferating an environment where continuous improvement just happens.

I promise you that everything you need to know in order to achieve this is contained in a formula that will take you only 10 minutes to understand.

After the 10 minutes are up? I’m going to show you how to implement it in your current or any future business you care to get involved in.

Beating the Entrepreneurial Myth

Inventorphoto by: [martin] 

Most small businesses come about because a technician (say a carpenter, plumber, dentist, graphic designer) gets an idea that instead of continuing to do what they do for someone else, they will start their own business and keep all of the lovely cash that was previously lining the pockets of their employer while they were paid the same salary regardless of how much value they brought to the business.

Although this is admirable and to be encouraged it is a classic example of the Entrepreneurial Myth in action. Because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you will be any good at owning and running a business doing that same something.

However, it also doesn’t mean that you won’t be brilliant at it, so don’t be put off by this; just make sure you know what you are getting into.

The 2 most common causes of small business failure that I see are:

1. Over complication of a simple idea
2. Owner spending too much time and money on the wrong things

Business is really very simple and this has been proven over and over again by many successful entrepreneurs who have dropped out of school early and who openly admit when they don’t know something.

Duncan Bannatyne from Dragon’s Den has become a very successful businessman and a multi millionaire. In his book “Anyone Can Do It” he says that he never assumes knowledge of a subject, he finds an expert (preferably free) e.g. the government health and safety executive and asks for help with issues he has.

Many would be entrepreneurs avoid this kind of contact with authority because they:

1. think they should know this stuff already and are embarrassed to admit that they don’t
2. they don’t want to alert anybody to what they are doing

No business operates in a vacuum; hiding from the agencies that are there to help and trying to disguise what you are doing from competitors is futile. Just doing your own thing well is the only way forward.

Re-inventing wheels and spending masses of time trying to come up with something new that nobody has seen before are also not good ideas, especially if funds are limited and time is short.

The trouble with new inventions is that you pretty much have to build a new market from scratch and that takes a lot of time, effort and money.

And of course as soon as you have spent that money, time and effort proving that something works and is needed; the latent competition that has been sitting watching, waiting and making notes will suddenly appear with a similar or better product at a cheaper price (because they invested less) and flood your hard won market with competing offers.

On the other hand, if your idea doesn’t work you don’t need to worry about the competition because they will be off doing something tried and tested and making money.

Running the wrong race.

Wrong Way ... Way Wrong

Insight is great stuff to have, but it’s sometimes difficult to find when you are up close to an issue.

A few years ago an ex colleague of mine who had been loosely involved with the travel and tourism industry told me he was buying into a new business venture: a high street travel agency. My heart started beating very fast; my first reaction was to ask: are you sure?

It seemed to me like the craziest idea possible in 2008 to be getting into a 1968 business; and so it proved; the business burned through a heap of cash and was gone inside a year.

But, it seemed like such a fantastic idea to my colleague; so much so that no-one could convince him otherwise, even his wife.

He was in the woods (his industry) and he was so familiar, felt so at home in those woods that he couldn’t possibly conceive of this venture going wrong; he knew the industry so well; so well in fact that he couldn’t see the exodus of clients from traditional travel agencies to the internet at the lower end of the market, where everybody buys on price. It must have been very painful watching people walk past that shopfront everyday.

But what can you do in that situation; you know a business so well and you can’t begin to imagine having to learn new skills and a new industry; he could have thought: “rich people”.

You see the obvious alternative might have been to cut costs and go straight onto the web; but that is also a very expensive game if you want to play in the mass market. As we have seen before at the price sensitive end of the market all sorts of things go wrong:

  • The big guys can always do things cheaper than you
  • The big guys can always get more exposure than you
  • Sometimes there actually isn’t enough money in the transaction for everybody to make a profit; just look at the number of holiday companies going out of business now.
  • The customers at that end of the market are the first to disappear when times get tough

Imagine instead that my colleague had started a bespoke travel agency which helps affluent people to arrange holidays and business travel, he could have effectively become a sort of concierge service for affluent people; benefits would have included:

  • No high street store front and associated overheads
  • Clients who are willing to pay for high quality and a hassle free life
  • Major up sell opportunities for add on features such as trips, activities, meals etc.
  • The opportunity to partner with many high end businesses to deliver the high quality his clients expect.
  • No drop off in business during hard economic times
  • No scrabbling for pennies at the bottom end of the market
  • Client loyalty and an ever increasing customer base.
  • Repeat business, not just year to year but multiple transactions per client per year
  • A valuable business that he could sell on in the future

Please don’t be blinded by the familiar; if in doubt find a mentor, someone who can take an objective view of your industry.

How can you use this idea in your business?

photo by: Robert Fornal 

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