This article appeared in the October/November issue of Your Business Magazine
Having a “growth mindset” – believing that talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others – as opposed to a “fixed mindset” – believing that talent is innate – have become buzzwords recently. And for good reason. This research put forward by Stanford Professor of Psychology Dr Dweck, has powerful implications in business and life.
As entrepreneurs we love the thought of growth – growth in our client base, profitability, market share and businesses. But we also need to work on our own attitude as opposed to just methodologies and strategies. With that in mind, here are five quotes from well-known companies or people who focus on the need for growth internally before seeking external growth.
“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” – Arnold H. Glasgow, writer
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is famous in the technology industry for what’s called his “reality distortion field”. His charismatic personality and ability to get others to see things his way was so powerful that employees would attempt and accomplish impossible tasks at his urging.
Jobs was Apple’s number one salesperson and the chief communicator of Apple’s vision. Apple has whole departments full of marketing and public relations experts, but Jobs was the person they put on stage to announce new products or technology because no one else could communicate his vision with his passion. His key success appears to be that before he brought a brilliant product to market, he opened the way for successful engagement by firstly, setting himself on fire.
“You never know what results will come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell has an action bias that is embraced in this axiom. “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not even next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
In engaging with start-up and existing entrepreneurs, I have observed that this action bias is one of the key differences between those who appear to stagnate or have little momentum and those that grow, expand and succeed. To what degree are you tilting the field in your favour by building an action bias in yourself and your team?
“I like the impossible. There, the competition is smaller.” – Walt Disney
Kishore Makan, owner of Exclusive Car Care embraces audacious goals. Kishore has two businesses which he runs in Port Elizabeth. One is a transport logistics company, and the other is a car wash business. When he first mentioned that he was eyeing the car wash business, I was somewhat doubtful. This industry has many entrants in it, margins are normally low because of businesses competing on price and it appears to be difficult to have a real differentiator.
He dispelled my doubts with his unique selling proposition, which combines the use of patented cleaning chemicals, drying with compressed air, and an appeal to the market of those who love their cars. His innovative approach saw him building up a “fan base” of over 700 clients within two years.
This saw him breaking even within the first three months, quadrupling his turnover within the first year, and securing the business of the vast majority of new and used car dealers on the adjacent highway.
“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” – Thomas Watson, former CEO, IBM
Terine Lott Cupido has entered the world of entrepreneurship quite recently. In a relatively short time, however, she has managed to procure a growing client base. The reason? Perhaps it is because of the unique way she engages with her clients, combining her expertise and experience with a true heart for her clients and their best interests. People can make or break your business, and this is heightened within the small business arena where poor use of human capital can derail or even shipwreck a start-up. How reassuring, therefore, to have a service provider who models the interests of her clients fully in carrying their business in her heart.
Those embracing Thomas Watson’s quote may appreciate this addition: “Just showing up to work is not enough to be successful in your job or your business. There must be an inner drive full of passion and enthusiasm and a burning desire within you to go above the norm. Your sense of purpose must be strong as well as your self-motivation. You gotta wanna! Is your heart in what you are doing… or not?”
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, and you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right? You’re not going to out-work me. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.” – Will Smith
Jonathan Reid is an international travel photographer who has made Will Smith’s quote his own. When he is on site in one of the many locations or countries he shoots in, 14- to 16-hour work days are commonplace. This means, like Will Smith above, this choice and habit has made him more ready to seize opportunities and stand out.
This focus has seen an increase in the quality and quantity of his work and positioned him favourably with businesses who buy his services. In his early days, while working as a teacher, he was contacted and asked if he could do a trial shoot around London. Here is what he says about that choice, “This happened to be in my school holiday period, so despite them paying for two days of work, I did about six. I’m not the most talented photographer, so I make up for this with hard work and I wanted to grab this opportunity.”
He carried this momentum into the next shoot. “My bag was still packed from a previous shoot, so I left for Amsterdam that afternoon with no production time. Once again, I over-delivered, working from sunrise to sunset without breaking for lunch. I did the week of work, arrived back home at 1am and started school the next day at 7am.”