Success brings confidence, and that confidence can make us think that we have all of the answers. We sometimes forget that once upon a time, we didn’t. We were hungry for knowledge and did whatever we could to get it. We had mentors, we read voraciously, we asked too many questions. And because we worked so hard to figure things out then, we are thriving now. The risk that we now face is complacency.
If, like me, you have a few years under your belt, you may have reached your comfort zone – you’ve built a good business primarily on your expertise. What more could there be to learn? Who could possibly know more about your business than you do?
We all know a lot less than we think we do and at a time when information is king, there is a lot that we can do to address that.
Opening Our Minds
There is so much noise in the world today. How do we know when to listen for the insight that might keep our business relevant in a changing market?
The first step is to have an open mind. We can’t just flip on a switch. It is a process. Here are some suggestions:
- Admit to ourselves that we don’t know everything.
- Accept that new ideas come along every day.
- Understand that because we haven’t identified a problem yet, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
- Adjust our attitude – Instead of erring on the “this-can’t-help-me-side,” err on the “this-might-help-me side.”
- Be open to recommendations and feedback, which may sound like criticism. If we check our egos and allow for feedback from others, we can build trust, and they can help us to understand where there are opportunities for growth in our business.
- Think about what we want for our businesses. We should understand that getting to the next level will require us to do things differently. What got us to where we are today, is not necessarily going to get us to where we want to be tomorrow.
Learn New Tricks
Understand that technology changes all of the time. This impacts process, marketing, sales, and human behavior. Yesterday's truism may be out of date today.
Determine your goals. Do you want to grow your business? Create a legacy? The tools, processes, and people that got you to your first goal, most likely will not be enough to get you to the next goal. A lot of business owners are perfectly happy with the revenue and size of their company. But they won't maintain that if they can't adapt to change. Look at Blockbuster Video.
It is no longer possible to predict how things will work in the future, what we can do is accept that we need to retool our process, rethink our current solutions, and keep an open mind to learning new tricks. That's how we will keep up with the changing landscape.
Identify your challenges and weaknesses. Some are very easy. Some are hidden. This is especially true when it comes to raising your level of expectations. You may be happy doing what you are doing without realizing there is a better way – more profitable, more efficient, with fewer headaches, etc.
The bottom line is that we can all do a better job keeping an open mind. Time constraints, being satisfied with what we have, pride, stresses outside of work and other obstacles get in our way. We need to get out of our own way. We need to get excited by challenges, hunger for knowledge, and seek growth. All we can do is put this in the front of our mind – to open it up – so we don’t miss out.