Diving down Rabbit Holes.
Picking up ‘Bright Shiny Objects’.
These are all things that entrepreneurs and new business owners can get trapped by. I know, it’s happened to me! Many times …
I’ve started and dropped many more businesses and business ideas, than I have successful businesses. What do I mean? Well’ I wish I could recoup all the time and effort I put in over the years in looking at:
Acquisitions. At least 6. Two of which worked OK. The others just wasted lots of time and effort.
Joint Ventures. At least 4. Two of which we ran overseas for 2 years that were a complete disaster.
Strategic Alliances. Too many to list. Very few of which proved worthwhile.
New Business Ideas (Start Ups) At least 3, that we tried and ended up giving away. Quite literally.
So what have I learnt from that over the last 20+ years?
The main thing I have learnt is that business owners and entrepreneurs get lots of great ideas. Too many great ideas. I get new ideas for new businesses every day! The trick is to NOT act on them….yet….
OK, don’t get me wrong. New ideas and new businesses are exciting. But you need to temper your excitement and let reality have a chance too. Now when I’m faced with new business opportunities I step back and take my time. I kerb my emotions and enthusiasm a bit, until I can get a more subjective view of the opportunity.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
Recently I had the chance to visit a country that I had always wanted to visit, as a key note speaker at a major industry event. We’ll call it Country A. The event was great, the organisers were great, the other speakers were great, the delegates were great. I had a ball. I even managed to squeeze in a day sight seeing before flying home. Country A…..was great.
Prior to going there, I thought to myself, OK, I’m going to come across some new opportunities. Do I want to do business in that country? Do I want to build up potential partnering opportunities to take our services to that country? I decided No. For a variety of reasons. So this actually took some of the pressure off and I was able to focus on participating in the event as best I could and giving the most value I could to the delegates.
That was Lesson 1. If you know you’re going to come across opportunities, think ahead how you might want to respond.
Now Lesson 2. The main lesson here.
Some time after the event, I was approached by someone I met there. Lots of enthusiasm. “We can do things together”. “Maybe bring your consulting here or your education programs etc etc”. And the contact wanted to set up time for us to discuss these opportunities.
My response? Not yet.
Share with me some of your thoughts first, so that we can both assess the opportunity, and decide if it’s worthwhile discussing further. We’re both busy. Let’s be objective about this.
You see I get 10-12 approaches a month like this. On the surface they all sound great. But I have to be realistic. I have 6 businesses to run, one of which is a social enterprise. And I have a full speaking schedule. And I also like to get involved in our charity programs.
So for something to warrant me taking time away from all of that, it needs to be good! Really good.
So now when I get these approaches, I ask for more details first. Not a business plan as such, but conceptual things like:
What services will be delivered?
Who will own the client relationship?
How will revenues be split?
Who will incur what costs?
What will each party bring to the relationship? IP, experience, markets etc.
Usually the dialogue stops at that point. Because once people start to really think through the opportunity, they start thinking about some of the detail, and realise it might be really tough to pull off. Pull off in a way that is beneficial to both parties and their clients.
So the moral of the story is quite simple. Keep the creative juices flowing, always. But learn to quickly cast aside the ideas that you know deep down won’t work, and focus on the ones that you ‘just know’ will be great. Ones that fit with your real passion and core focus.
So how do you ‘just know’? Well that’s for another day.