If you own a business, you’re already not normal.
The last thing many people want to hear right now is more about a “new normal.” They miss the old days, the old familiar ways, the tasks, and routine that are tolerable at least. I have colleagues ask about how I’m adjusting to a new normal and the answer, if I’m being totally honest, is I love it! I’m an entrepreneur, and we thrive in periods of uncertainty. I’m creating my new normal every day and you should be too.
If you’re a business owner and entrepreneur, you should continually be excited about new normals…and you should be trying to create them yourself all the time. When periods of uncertainty pop up, and they continue through the entire existence of people-kind, the creators, builders, visionaries, and problem-solvers step up and shift the paradigm. It’s never “a government,” “a company,” “a nation,” that can make this leap. No, only the people that are gifted to see new landscapes, blaze new trails, and capture progress in their mind’s eye are suited to leave the old normal behind in favour of better.
How many new normals have there been? Millions. How many more will there be? Millions more.
When I think back to the good ole’ days, you know, 2019, I will never miss these three attitudes I saw in business owners:
I saw too many businesses practicing complacency as a habit. I mean business leaders I suppose – although I believe an actual business can be complacent as a culture, but that company is led by people somewhere. While some were out exploring new markets, creating new products and processes with fervor, others were sitting back with a smug belief that they were awesome…very few were.
If you’re in business and you ever hit the spot where you feel finally satisfied with yourself or your achievements, hand over the reigns to someone else because you have passed your prime. (Everett’s note: contentment is different than being satisfied in business. You can be quite content with your work while not being satisfied with the status quo). Many good businesses have faltered because they became satisfied. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great starts with the idea that “Good is the enemy of great.” Good businesses already face a dire reality that they won’t align with any new normal that comes along, let alone be pioneers of that world. Don’t be complacent.
Lack of focus on business
I had a conversation with a client (we’ll call him Adam) a couple of years back about his profitability, or I suppose it was his lack of profitability that I was questioning. I talked about the ways we might explore margins, reducing operating costs, finding some correct price points for the market; things we do when a business needs to improve. It was a lost conversation because Adam had no desire to have a sound financial model, or at least the desire was overshadowed by the fun of the work itself. He summarized his stance very well by saying “I don’t want to dig into all those things, I just like doing this work.” If you read that and say hey, Adam sounds like me, you likely don’t need to keep reading.
For a business to move beyond “I like this work” Collins also brings us his Hedgehog concept. This is a quick tool of three things to look at for a business to succeed. I’ll summarize but read the book to get it.
- Find what you are passionate about. Adam was passionate about his work.
- Find what you can be the best at. Adam was very good, if not the best, at his work.
- Find an economic engine. Nope, Adam didn’t know how to convert it to profit.
When you focus on your business, you can’t miss one of these three and expect results. Yeah, you may make a great product and be awesome at it, but without his economic engine (no profit) Adam didn’t last long.
Unwillingness to become better
The last attitude I won’t miss in any new normal, although I suspect it will pop up again, is the clear stubbornness to stay the same and not improve. An old proverb says “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” Should you be satisfied with staying the same? No. You were designed to become better and self-improve as long as you’re given air to breathe. Is that easy? No.
Companies moving to greatness “do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then to seek continual improvement from there” says Collins again. So I’m not talking about changing with the wind; I’m listening to Jim’s advice to live inside my arena and not be complacent that I have it all figured out. That takes discipline as a culture to sustain. Very few individuals, and consequentially very few businesses have that.
So you’re running a business, or involved in a business, or an employee of a business. Take my 90-day challenge, starting each day with 3 critical statements:
- I am setting the normal by improving myself.
- I am setting the normal by focusing on what I do best.
- The old is gone again. I will influence the new normals in every way I can.
Don’t be surprised or disappointed with the changes in the world. They will never stop and so you shouldn’t stop either. I’d love to hear about how you’re setting a new normal for yourself.