12 Certainties in an Uncertain Business World

As an ambitious business owner you are limiting your potential profits if you fail to address one key matter that most people are not only unaware of but unable to handle. I’m talking about how to base your business on the certainties that still exist even in a fast changing and highly competitive business environment. I’m talking about specific outlooks, personal skills and business strategies that are timeless predictors of success.

When asked about how he steers Amazon in the fast changing world of ecommerce Jeff Bezos has said that from the beginning he focused on what he knew to be certain i.e. people will always want low prices and fast delivery. He then based the business on these certainties to establish a presence before ultimately dominating his industry.

Even in times of political upheaval, social unrest or economic chaos there are still certainties that drive any company, any industry and any economy. Use the following certainties as beacons to a definite and expansive future.

1. Security

Financial security is a function of your well developed strengths as a business owner. Identify what you excel at and aim to pass all other tasks to subordinates. The maximum leverage in your business will be to exploit the mastery of your unique talents where it adds most value to the business. Money is an essential business tool but without your finely honed strengths it will never be employed in an optimal way.

Want to grow your business faster? Then work to improve those few but critical strengths you have that drive the business. And delegate all other activities as soon as possible.

2. Excellence

Excellence is always in demand and yet it’s never widely available. Look at the top selling music, books or movies of the year and what do you notice? A few artists who excel at their craft dominate their industries. The same applies in sport and in business.

In life we are surrounded by a large population of people who are mediocre or unengaged, a small group of people who are dedicated and very good at what they do but a tiny minority who absolutely excel. Excellence is admired, always in demand and easily differentiated from the rest even in a crowded market.

Make excellence a priority in yourself, your products and your hiring practices so that you’ll be well positioned to ride the ups and downs of the economy.

3. Cycles and Trends

Life is cyclical by its very nature. Products, industries and countries have short term and long term cycles. Nothing is static: currencies, commodities and stocks fluctuate in value second by second.

For this reason we need to observe what is actually happening in our business world instead of looking to find what we want to see. Humility and objectivity are key traits we must cultivate if we are to dance to the rhythm of expansion and contraction in markets and economies.

No matter how challenging it is in your industry people are always actively searching and spending their money on something. Minute by minute billions of dollars are being spent around the world to satisfy real or imagined needs.

You must pay attention to consumer and business trends. Stay up to date with your field but also be curious about what is happening in popular culture and which industries and product lines are growing or declining. Look outside your industry or you’ll become myopic and slow to adapt to the trends that are sweeping across industries and countries one by one.

This curiosity will give you a sensitivity to what is likely to happen next and the courage to be an early mover before your competitors have even figured out what is happening.

4. The 5 People

As social creatures we tend to mimic and emulate those we spend the most time with, this insight can often explain why we are successful or unsuccessful without any further analysis. It tends to be true that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Consequently, your income, your happiness, your fitness and your ambition will tend to be the average of those 5 people.

Want to be happier? Spend more time with happier people and less time with unhappy people. Want to earn more? Spend more time with more successful people and less time with people who are unsuccessful.

Even in a tough economic environment you’ll find people who are doing better than average. Spend time with these people and their optimism will inspire you to do even better. But surround yourself with peers who are struggling and you’ll likely underachieve and lose confidence in the future.

5. Insights

You will almost never get ground breaking insights while sitting at your desk, unless you’re staring out the window. Imagination, insights and great ideas tend to come alive when you are relaxed and enjoying a quiet mind free of problems to solve.

Schedule time to play and have fun with no work distractions and you’ll soon discover this is not wasteful or frivolous instead it’s the only way to recharge and allow insight to strike you when you least expect it.

6. Greatness and Happiness

Love is the unlimited source of creativity, energy and relentless persistence that allows success to blossom and happiness to reign. And no matter how tough times are you can always do better when you reconnect with your passion for what you do.

This achievement fuel is always available as long as you pause to smell the flowers and remind yourself why you enjoy what you do. When you infuse all you do with love you’ll surpass all others who are just working hard and you’ll be happy and fulfilled. Happiness is not a random event…

Happiness is an inside job, it’s a feeling you associate with what is going on in your life. You evaluate outcomes and then decide based on your attachments and aversions if you are happy or not. No matter how successful you become you’ll never be happy until you accept and notice you are in control of your happiness.

This gives you the freedom to start new projects and be original because you no longer need the approval of others. You can then see success and failure as outcomes not as the source of your happiness or despair. As you become less attached to success and less emotional about it you’ll be much more effective and ironically more likely to succeed because you’ll spend more time in flow states.

7. Originality

We live in a time of abundance. As consumers we have such a wide range of options it can be hard to decide what to buy yet in many product categories we find that most offerings are me too products. These products then get lost in the crowd while we evaluate the differences between the best products.

Why does this happen? Because the multitude of options make it difficult to make a decision, we need a fast way to reduce the number of options. Consequently, it’s never been more important to be different: ensure your product is different in ways that are highly valued by clients or you’ll be another player to be ignored.

8. Value

Money is only exchanged to get something of greater value than the cash spent. All business can be reduced to the exchange of money for value. This clarifies the purpose of your business which is to provide great solutions and communicate that value to the clients who will most appreciate what you have to offer.

As a business owner your goal is to add value to peoples lives but money is a byproduct that can be distracting if we fail to see the transaction from the consumers point of view.

Want to grow your customer base faster? Ask yourself: who will benefit the most from your product? And how can your reach those specific customers?

9. Adapt

We all enjoy change when it brings good luck or favourable results but the rest of the time we prefer to look the other way and hope rather than plan for the unexpected. As entrepreneurs we need to offset our innate optimism with some slack to handle changes that might cause setbacks, delays and new problems to solve.

Bear this in mind when planning ahead, forecast with bad numbers if you have to but don’t expect perfection when it comes to implementation. You must be ready to adapt to unexpected changes.

Darwin famously said that the ability to adapt is a better indicator of survivability than strength or intelligence. We see the truth of this all the time in big business. Market leaders with huge resources and very smart executives fail to adapt to new trends and slowly those companies fade out of the limelight and either fail or get bought out by the newer and more innovative market entrants.

Focus on being adaptable. Reject the tendency to believe you know what consumers want because you have a successful track record. Stay humble, keep listening and let the market tell you what is true. Ignore your own hype.

10. Character and Personality

A track record tells you a little about what someone is truly capable of and tells you very little about their integrity, loyalty and intentions. And even reputation can be manufactured and polished to create a favourable impression.

However people only show their true colours when the pressure is on because it is only then that personality and character are revealed. Give business relationships time to develop and assume you don’t truly know someone until you’ve seen how loyal, capable and reliable they are when the pressure to deliver is on.

Because character and personality are closely related it’s important to study personality types so you can treat people in a way that gets them to respond. If you treat everyone the same you’ll come across as bland and out of touch. Clients, staff and colleagues all want to feel special and valued but this can only happen if you treat each person as a unique individual and speak to their particular needs.

You’ll never maximise the potential of your staff and colleagues until you understand their fundamental drivers, ambitions and fears. By studying personality types you will learn to see people as individuals with particular personality traits and you’ll enjoy greater rapport and more successful long term relationships with the important people in your business.

11. Health

Physical, mental and emotional health are the foundation of your business success. If you’re ambitious and want to enjoy a long career then you need to adopt a long term sustainable approach to ensure you maintain health and well being.

Pushing yourself hard today or this week can seem like a good way to accelerate progress but is the price your body and mind is paying sustainable? Is this is a sound approach for the nest 10 years or 20 years?

12. Profits

You make your profit when you buy not when you sell. Yes, this is a popular and timeless principle but one that is easily overlooked when you are focused on revenue generation in a fast changing environment. The number crunching, cash flow analysis and strategic buying that you managed so carefully when starting out are still the essential elements to monitor as you grow.

Cost management can be the difference between being small and profitable or big and broke. And over trading is a very real risk than cannot be taken lightly if you aim to be in business for the long term. Consequently it’s of great importance that you have robust cost reporting systems to ensure you are always aware of your key numbers.

These timeless principles can provide certainty even in a fast changing world but we need to ignore noise and irrelevant data if we are to navigate through turbulent times. This is best achieved by focusing on certainties we can control and influence, do that and you can thrive even when others feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.

Photo By Alan Cleaver