Small Business Master or Disaster: Which Are You?
Our good intentions actually become the cause of our failure.
Paradoxical Intention, Victor Frankl
How can you avoid becoming a casualty of "paradoxical intention" in your business, projects and goals?
We all start our projects, set our goals, and define our mission with the best of intentions. We intend to succeed. We seek to acquire the best tools to assist us, and put all of our energy towards efforts to "make things happen" - this statement is cliched for a reason. Whether on the football field, at the kitchen table of a small business owner, or in the steely boardroom of a corporation, the means may be different, but the lusted-after end is the same. We all are driven to succeed in our respective fields. But with all this desire for success, why do the statistics of failure continue to hold strong decade after decade? Why are our good intentions, our most sincere efforts, never enough?
"Every year in the United States, 40 million people change jobs, 600,000 new businesses are formed and 500,000 companies fail. Companies with less than 500 employees make up 99 percent of businesses. 50 percent of today's start-ups will be out of business five years from now."
Dr. Alex Pattakos, author of "Prisoner of our Thoughts" puts it like this:
"We all know how it works: our nervousness and anxiety about getting it right keep us from getting it right. The higher our expectations about something, the more disconnected we are from the actual process..."
95% of business's now believe that technology is the key determinant of success. And yet, most end up senselessly chasing technology, never bothering to actually consider what system may be best suited to their needs. For example, I recently had a CEO of an investment firm that has struggled with everything from legal regulations in the financial industry, to a lack of cash flow state to me that "I can do everything I need to do with technology for $19 a month...". This is only one laughable example of the kind of irrational thinking that makes the aforementioned statistics so pervasive. When you're managing anything, any size business, does it make sense to try to do it for less than you're spending on your weekly lattes? This is the same CEO who spares no expense with for instance, his office's physical location, paying astronomical rent for fancy downtown offices. So why does he believe that when he elevates his business to the Cloud, he can do it successfully for $19 a month?
The myth of the internet era is that it would be a space which would be "free". And although the evolution of the Cloud and technology hosted upon it has opened the doors for smart small businesses and start-ups to compete with the giants of industry unlike ever before, the idea that it is cheap or free or easy to do is what keeps 99% of the small companies from succeeding. That being said, spending millions, even if you have it as a large organization, doesn't necessarily ensure success either. 70% of all ERP and CRM implementations fail at the enterprise level to meet objectives or achieve a return on the investment associated with their cost.
Technology, especially Cloud Business Operations (I'll call them "CBOs") need, more than ever, to have a process based approach - a guiding mechanism which functions in line with "HOW" you plan to get there. Most of us know the "why" - we pretty much all want to succeed. It's time to stop asking "why" and start focusing on "how". If we didn't know "why" we wanted to achieve something, we'd never start in the first place.
There are Four Pillars of Process that define "how" we achieve every goal, whether it be business or personal. When the Four Pillars are clearly understood, we can avoid the "paradoxical intention" that leads to failure. With this understanding, instead of focusing on the anxiety a situation causes, we can focus on the situation itself. When we are free of our anxiety, we can focus on what we should be doing and how we can collaborate with others in order to optimize our performance. With this knowledge, we will better understand when it's time to take a "Time-Out" to reflect on how we are doing. When we remain conscious of ourselves and our surroundings, we are focused on the present moment. Only in this "Zone" can we better understand the efficacy of our choices.
Technology moves fast. So does business. But, with the ability track our own movements and activities, as well as that of our team, we can begin to create a Hub of Understanding, - a place where activities currently in process are monitored and displayed. We designed the 1to1REAL Cloud to help direct a path and learn the process of what individuals and teams do best. When we re-group, and take time outs - it is like looking at ourselves from the sidelines, or on video. In his book, Dr. Pattakos calls this "looking at yourself from a distance". When we seek to understand the the steps we have taken, our process can be seen, defined and improved upon.
We all have a unique way of approaching things - that is our unique "Zone", where we are our most genius. However, we must put a process around those unique approaches and find the technology that can match our approach - rather than attempting to match our approach and goals attempting to technology. The problem is, historically, that's not how software development has worked. Typical software delivers "functionality and features" defined by engineers and designed by software architects. The problem? Software has attempted to be "all things to all functions" with a specific goal. We can not add leverage to our best efforts with technology, until we can have technology that understands our best efforts. Unfortunately that approach does not often match the way traditional software has been delivered and designed.
I've studied business success and failures, alongside technology for well over fifteen years. One of the missions I had in building a piece of software for the Cloud, a dozen years ago, before it was called "The Cloud", was to stop the crazy approach where a technological platform was dictating how things must be done. Most people do things best with their unique flavor. Most successful business have a "secret formula" - almost like their own Coca Cola secret recipe.
So, just as a professional athlete combines their natural talents with the skill they've acquired through practice, a successful technology should take into account your organizations strengths as well as its weak points, and begin to structure itself from there. Just as an athlete must practice more those shots which they would typically miss, in business, we must find a system, a piece of technology, designed to assist us in the areas we require improvement, and perfect the areas in which we generally succeed.
Take Michael Jordan as an example. The arena, the rules of the game, the other players, were all the moving parts that increased in complexity as he moved from the backyard to the NBA. Just like a growing business - Jordan had to focus on his natural process to improve it. What Jordan was doing with all those hours and hours spent repeating the same action, was consistently improving in his "Zone". He also worked with his team making sure that they were included - which brought in win after win. It was a process that created the maximum results. Nike would have you think it was the Air Jordan's, but Michael learned how to leverage his talents with a team and the resources around him
When approaching our business's, when moving onto the Cloud, we are simply changing the arena. We need to think of the Cloud as our new "office building in the sky" - it is the place where we will spend our time, pay our rent and meet with our customers, as well as work with our team, play our best game. The magic of the Cloud is that it scales to any size business operation - the software platform you choose needs to do the same. Every basketball court, an NBA arena, or a grade school gym, has the same court. But the processes surrounding them are totally different. With 1to1REAL we built technology to support any size game- whether rookie, amateur, or professional. We discover "how process" and match the tools to the goals.
Our mission is to deliver the services of the 1to1REAL Cloud we've spent over 1.5 million man hours to build, to change the odds of the game in the favor of small and medium sized business - with the Four Pillars that every business can use to find their How - right Now. The present intention of every business and entrepreneur should lead to success, and help avoid the paradox of hyper-intention that can, and too often, leads to failure.
Tim Vasko The Cloud Market Coach Founder & CEO - 1to1REAL Cloud Solutions