“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” (Frank Lloyd Wright)
“Remember why you started.” This sentence is on the wall of a gym, most probably to provide encouragement after the 50th minute of a cardio-exercise, not to go home and occupy the fridge alone, once everyone is sleeping.
Hard to remember how it has become one of the most frequent statements towards customers coming from the SME environment, full of the special mixture of hope, impatience, determination, fear and doubt. But it has become…
It is never easy to become independent, risk your own savings, get exposed to a financing entity, (especially to combine the two), and go out to the market. It is hard to stay, follow your vision and be flexible enough in order to accommodate the changes stemming from the external environment. Even harder to change. If you feel like you have failed, you would not want to make another mistake, if things have been relatively all right, you would not risk your achievements. Fully understood.
Fortunately, more and more entrepreneurs decide to look for external help, instead of spending enormous amount of time and resources to find their way in a fast-changing environment. Not because they may not have the fundamental wisdom, but because they may not feel objective when it would be essential.
Very unfortunately, they more and more often become the victims of those online offers, which promise to provide a roadmap, an essential guide or a ‘who-knows-how-many’ steps to business success. Or growth. Or financial independence. Or exponentially growing profit. Or something similarly general and unspecified, though attractive. To be more convincing, they also provide some days, weeks or months of money back guarantee… All depending on what the targeted entrepreneurs are about to hear at the very moment.
But there is a question: have you ever seen any offers with a ‘time back guarantee’? Of course, not….
“Time is money.” (Benjamin Franklin) You can make up for the lost money, but surely cannot for the lost time. You had better think a bit before hitting the ‘pay now’ button and downloading something.
Once you made your commitment, you will most probably try to attribute some relevance, value or reasonability to your purchase. You may not even realise, but would become the one who is most interested in justifying the … what exactly? Seemingly, the value, relevance, reasonability of the received material, but – deeply inside, in fact – your own decision… More accurately: the correctness of your own decision…
And you will receive all the help from these vendors: generalised, ‘hard-not-to-agree-with’ statements, simple conclusions and ‘easy-to-fill’ checklists, etc. You will feel that you follow the line, proceed, and develop. That you got the hang of it. However, there would be a point in time, when you realise: your problem, issue, challenge is still there, although you spent some hundreds (thousands?) and considerable amount of time….
Be rest assured that it is not your fault, most of us would be in the same position. This is just a human bias. How can you avoid being trapped by it? Be pragmatic, use common sense, and “remember why you started”.
“Asking for help isn’t the sign of weakness, it’s the sign of strength.” (Barack Obama) The aforementioned, questionable online offers build on the underlying aversion to the risk of failure. Failure is considered to be something negative, a fatal outcome, or so. In spite of such an approach, we believe that failures are the part of the journey to become what we would like to be. A trial and error procedure, a learning process, however you describe it. Failure is also rather a way of perception than a hard fact.
Asking for help, for complementary expertise is really far from a failure. It is a part of intelligence, a distinctive feature, the proof of being able to analyse a situation, and conclude smartly.
In order to provide support for the judgement, for the decision-making process, and to illustrate our suggestions, there are some questions, below, that we all can answer easily:
1. Would you start to cure an illness, that you have not have before, without seeing a doctor?
2. Would you buy online and take a medicine for that illness mentioned in point 1 based on the rating provided by people who you have not heard of?
3. Would you buy a wedding gown/tuxedo from an online shop without ever seeing it or trying it on, which is available in one size that should fit all?
If you had at least one ‘yes’ answer, you may continue with your strategy, and support the business model of those vendors who create and sell such generalised content.
If all your answers were ‘no’, that implies that you consider your investment, your enterprise far more important than to opt for quick, unspecified solutions, whatever the consequences may be. Then would you think you could expect something meaningful under those titles online?
“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” (Alexandre Dumas) You have the chance to find something valuable among the many offers, that is true. Such as you have a chance to win a significant amount of money on the lottery. The more you are about to win, the lower the chance is to achieve it, in a certain time period. Similarly, the more specific your question is, the less the chance that you will find it in such a generalist approach. And, anyway: why would you
– buy a whole course with an unreasonably large scope to find an answer for a specific question, and
– spend your time with analysing your own situation and trying several solutions, until you find the right question?
Once you made sure you need additional expertise, and you also assigned a budget for it, spend it wisely.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” (Warren Buffet) Do not just spend, invest. First of all: your time, as that is what you cannot ever repeat, re-gain, make-up for. How?
1. Find a ‘service provider’, not a ‘product vendor’, and make sure it has the right understanding of your enterprise.
2. Build trust, and be honest, in order to help to raise the right questions.
3. Once the right questions are on the table, you have the best opportunity to find the right answer, the right solution.
4. Dedicate your time and efforts to the implementation, and make sure you receive the necessary external support.
5. Prepare for the hard work and the difficulties which tend to accompany the changes, regardless of the volume. Never lose sight of the target you have set.
‘One-size-fits-all’ solutions are usually either completely unprofessional and worthless or too general to be really helpful. Wisely invested money – instead of easy-to-access, cheap and quick solutions – will generate value for you, which you can benefit from on the long term.
Conclusion. Once you keep remembering why you started, do not forget where you wanted to go, either. Unless you have got there, already, and have to set new goals, all your actions are advisable to be planned accordingly. All stories, reasons, ideas and goals are unique, in a way. Consequently, all solutions, contributions, and support shall be customised, as well. Your dream, your efforts, your decisions may lead to your achievements. Last, but not least, all these need your passion and commitment.
Currently, we are living under circumstances that noone expected, and thus noone has a clue how the future will look like. Why would you rely on the old, ready-made, cheap, generalised wisdom of someone else? Follow your own path and find the right partners for it.