In one of the Aesop’s Fables, a dog spotted a rabbit in the thicket and chased him out into the open field. The rabbit dodged and darted this way and that way and the dog followed in hot pursuit. The chase went on for some time before the dog got tired and lost the chase.
As the dog went back home tired, hungry and feeling defeated, a herdsman who had been watching the whole drama jeered at him for losing the good fight.
But the dog in a quick rejoinder said, “You are forgetting the hare’s predicament! I was running only for my dinner while the hare was running for his life!”
Apparently one of the least talked about causes of business failure and underperformance in most firms is lack of seriousness or rather lack of total devotion to the cause of business on the side of the owner.
Most employed people who work hard and give all they have to their employer often harbour the thoughts that if they worked even half as hard in their own business they would earn more and be far much better off.
Theoretically this makes a lot of sense. However, practically it is one of the most difficult disciplines to maintain once in one’s own business.
Like the hare, most people succeed in employment because they are forever running after their life (to keep the job). Once in their own business they become complacent and lose out to the competition because the motivation is just ‘dinner,’ which is not a must-have at that moment.
For any start-up business to take off and conquer the market, or to steer an existing business to super performance something more than just working hard is required. It calls for total devotion without plan B or any possibility of turning back.
History is full of heroic stories of army commanders who burned their ships after crossing into the enemy territory just to send a strong signal to their solders that retreat was not an option. They had to fight not just to win, but to live. This is the kind of sprit that today’s entrepreneur should have to succeed in a competitive market.
Most people start business with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. They wake up very early, burn the midnight candle to meet deadlines, respect even small customers and take time to listen to their customers.
However, as time goes on and business starts to make some money and they also get other alternative ways of earning, complacency sets in. They stop working hard, customer service is compromised and meeting a deadline is no longer an issue. As a result, the going starts to get rough and the blame goes to competitors, bad economy, employee fraud, misfortunes and everything else but themselves.
Without an employer or a boss’ demands for working plan, budgets, reports and analysis of performance such essentials take the back seat. The result is that most decisions and resource allocation are not informed by facts on the ground.
To succeed in business one of the minimum requirements is to regard yourself as an employee of your firm when it comes to work ethics. Most successful business owners have a job description, a fixed salary commensurate with the profitability of the firm and don’t mix business with friendship, personal luxuries and other indulgences.
It is possible to ruin your business by working casually and neglecting many things that look mundane and insignificant yet they determine your success. This is especially possible if you don’t have a sense of urgency or there are no serious consequences of not doing them now rather than later.
Success does not come from doing one or few big things that are worthy of celebration. Success comes from doing small things that ordinary people often ignore with all your heart.
Mr Kiunga is a business trainer and the author of The Entrepreneurial Journey: From Employment to Business