If there’s one constant over the course of a business life, it’s that you have to remain continually open to new learning.
Once you’ve hit a certain level in your career, it’s all too easy to keep relying on the same tried and true tactics and strategies which have fuelled your rise to date. This is all very well if you’re happy treading water but the uncomfortable truth is that, as the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.
In this article we’ll cover seven secrets of long-term business success from a slightly left-field perspective. We won’t be going too far into the realm of New-Age advice but we will be taking some psychological truths from that area on board.
Let’s get going!
1. The journey starts within
Self-awareness is one of the most commonly overlooked characteristics of successful business leaders. Acknowledging your interior emotional landscape is a key skill to add to your portfolio and one that will pay off in spades down the line.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to like what is going on inside your head at any given stage. However, being able to be aware of emotions and thoughts as they arise is the difference between falling into blind, strategically uninformed reactions and taking control of a situation.
Realising what is actually occurring internally brings another huge advantage: it provides a natural opportunity to reflect and change – which brings us neatly on to our second point.
2. Don’t be afraid to rip the bandage off
Change is inevitable in business but there is a huge difference in whether you are ahead or behind the curve when it comes to its implementation.
A classic mistake in business is successfully identifying the need for change but then dilly-dallying about actually taking the inevitable tough decisions required to implement it.
Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders know that, nine times out of ten, change is a process that should be implemented quickly. As General Patton put it many years ago: a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
Of course this doesn’t mean you should be crashing around like a bull in a china shop randomly executing change but the ability to make decisions quickly and spin on a dime – or “pivot” to put it in the modern parlance – is a valuable one. Start cultivating it and don’t get stuck in the mud.
3. Play your own game
This follows on from our first point about self-knowledge. Once you’re comfortable with who you are, make sure you’re playing on your natural strengths rather than spinning your wheels flailing against your weaknesses.
Weaknesses should of course be worked on over time but leveraging your innate resources will get you much further in the short term. It’s easy to get sucked into performing tasks that you’re not naturally suited to so this one will require discipline over time.
4. Homogeneity is not your friend
People are naturally creatures of habit and tend to drift into circles they find familiar, either personally and professionally. There’s a huge amount to be said for mixing things up in both settings however.
In the context of business, be wary of stacking a team or organisation with carbon-copy employees. Firms will naturally develop their own culture over time but you want to make sure there is a healthy mix of personality types at play at all times. Every project demands a range of abilities and roles to really succeed. You’ll need peacemakers, technicians, creatives and type-As in equal measure.
Being able to successfully match personality types on a team to get the most out of all parties involved is one of the secret skills that every great manager has mastered somewhere along the way. Start adding it to your personal skills portfolio.
5. Accept the physical limits of the universe
What do we mean by the physical limits of the universe? It’s simply a roundabout way of reminding you that nobody can actually be in two places at one time and that even the idea of multi-tasking is often a myth.
When you drill down and realise that you will only really be able to do one thing at a time yourself, the critical importance of systems and delegation comes into very sharp relief.
The difference between successful business people and burnouts over time is that the former are calmly ticking off individual tasks against the backdrop of an efficient system whereas the latter are trying to be everywhere at once.
6. A place for everything and everything in its place
Just as manners maketh the man, so the physical appearance of a workplace is an excellent indicator as to overall morale and focus. We’ve probably all found ourselves at some stage visiting offices where it’s screamingly obvious from the moment you walk in the door that something is fundamentally wrong with the organisation.
If you’re running a team, make sure that everybody on it understands they are responsible for running a tight ship in terms of keeping the workplace spick and span and a pleasant place to work in.
In many service orientated or retail businesses, the physical layout of a premises and the flow through it will actually be one of the biggest levers you can pull to drive outsize results. Make sure you’re paying attention to the details.
7. The whole is more than the sum of its parts
Holistic thinking is at the core of long-term business success and every successful business person knows that there are innumerable situations where two plus two adds up to much more than four. Make sure you’re constantly on the lookout for potential synergies in areas under your control and keep an eye on the situation in its entirety at all times.
Success consists of many factors over time and the points we’ve raised above are by no means the only paths to get there. They are however excellent ideas to bear in mind as you proceed along the way. Work them into your day-to-day practice and you’ll swiftly start to see stellar results!