This week’s ‘Coffee With Colm’ is all about being flexible; an oft-underrated trait found in successful entrepreneurs.
For context: Our first business failed.
The most obvious thing for me to do was follow my training and begin a coffee shop chain. I tried. It didn’t work quickly enough to save the day. Thankfully, however, I was flexible – I wanted (needed) to build a business but I wasn’t wedded to any particular business idea. Carambola resulted.
In my book Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business despite the Roadblocks, I think it through in this chapter mini-section entitled Be Flexible
Below is that snippet from the book for you to consider.
Here’s the thing. You’ve decided to start your own business, or perhaps go full-time in a venture that you once worked evenings and weekends along with your job. Or perhaps you’ve simply decided to finally get stuck in and develop the thing you’ve been involved in for years that has been bouncing along the bottom, never achieving enough momentum to break free and soar. And you’re feeling good. But be warned. The ride ahead may not be as smooth as you hope; in fact it is more likely that it will be very bumpy and appear to have a never ending uphill trajectory.
This is normal. Expect it. Prepare for it. Plan for it.
You see, just because you finally decided to grab hold of your life and as part of this you made a commitment to build a business for yourself and your family, doesn’t mean the world will say, “Finally! Best wishes,” and step aside to allow you fulfil your dreams. On the contrary, while a whole host of unplanned and unforeseen events, people and resources will appear to help you on your way for sure, there will also be a plethora of negative situations, roadblocks and even well-meaning loved ones that have one mission: to knock you off course. Or perhaps, as I prefer to see things, to see what you are made of, to see are you serious.
Let me deal with well meaning loved ones first. It is important to understand that a) they really do love you and they want the best for you and b) they really do mean well as they try to talk you down off your newly acquired lofty perch, with your fancy dreams. The problem is not your fancy dreams, but their paradigm; their unique way of viewing the world.
The very best way I have identified to ascertain whether advice from anyone, including well meaning loved ones, is valid is to ask myself which quadrant is it coming from. By this I’m referring back to Kiyosaki’s Cashlfow Quadrant. If I want to be a B and build a Business, but if my cousin is a Government employee for twenty five years in the E quadrant, his opinion is not valid. From his paradigm it is impossible for him to have an accurate view of the world of B’s; if, however Richard Branson, or some relative who has spent a life as a B, offered advice, I’d absolutely listen if I were you.
You have probably heard of the giant redwood trees of California. These truly are giants of nature. Some are over 3,500 years old, can measure over 300ft tall and over with over 50ft in diameter. Put this in perspective; Dublin’s Millennium Spire is 398ft high with a 3m diameter. How have these trees survived for millennia and grown to such gigantic proportions despite wind, rain, snow, storm and fire? Part of the answer for their longevity and success at least resides in their relative flexibility; trees are masters of ‘going with the flow’ and bending rather than breaking when adversity comes knocking. Another key factor is they only grow in groves – never as stand alones (mé féiners as we say in Ireland) They stand shoulder to shoulder with, dare I say it, like-minded trees, trees from the same quadrant. Sixty groves range from the smallest with six giants to one grove of twenty thousand. They use their massive roots to intertwine with each other to give added solidity and assurance. They stick together and exude a ‘whatever’ attitude to the forces of nature that exterminate the less flexible, less committed, more isolated wannabes.
My advice: learn to be flexible; bend, don’t break and be careful who you listen to and hang out with as you build your business.
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Thanks for thinking with me.