Entrepreneurs are no strangers to working long hours and having the lines between work and personal time blurred. Many times, the very success of our business correlates with how much time and effort we invest into it. This concentrated effort might be both necessary and sustainable in the short run but can be detrimental in the long run. A light workload day can help maintain some balance in both our work and personal life.
Success stories obviously have happy endings but on the path to success these happy endings may seem an unbearable distance away. Creative solutions may have to be devised to overcome obstacles that arise. Both anticipated problems and unexpected situations require quick thinking and decisive action in order to achieve your goals. With that in mind , consider experimenting to improve your offerings, techniques, skills or general customer service before a problem arises. This allows you to be better equipped to face challenges when they inevitably come knocking.
Experimentation precedes innovation
Most success stories are also packed with stories of failure before the eureka moment occurred. Before the right idea can be identified the horrible and not so practical ideas have to be eliminated. Experimentation is the testing ground of ideas and the birthplace of innovation. Having the courage to try something new rather than follow the status quo has led to the invention of countless appliances. Failure of an original idea does not always mean the failure of an experiment as many products that were invented by accident show.
In the same vein, experimentation in business is vital for not only initial success but longevity. It allows a business to try new things and new approaches in a constantly evolving environment. Out-of-the-box thinking can gain a business a competitive advantage or even change an entire industry. Apple is renown for iTunes and iPod products that helped to transform the music industry from a CD dominated market to a digital one.
Experimenting breaks monotony
While doing the same thing over and over again can build up efficiency it can also become monotonous. When the excitement of a task is gone the morale of those performing it can also suffer. Experimenting is one method of averting the monotony of routine tasks. Google and other companies have used a 20% rule to inspire employees and allow them to express their creativity on work related projects of their choosing. This not only boosts morale but also results in new homegrown products. Google AdSense and GMail are examples of products that began as experiments but matured to be integrated into the company’s business model.
Change is always met with some form of resistance. People are reluctant to simply accept the unfamiliar but this should not discourage you from experimenting. In fact, the more your experiment can break through this barrier of resistance the more likely it will be to succeed. Great products/services are often those which make us wonder how we lived without it after it is invented. Have faith and fun experimenting and your hard work may just pay off.
Profits may be the most popular metric of measuring the success of a business venture but it is by no means the only (or the best) method for measuring success. Most start-ups are not profitable at the beginning of operation and many are not profitable for years. While monetizing a business is an important goal there are other important metrics that can be used to judge the performance of the company beyond the simple bottom line.
The impact a company has on society as a whole may warrant its existence even if it does not make a profit. This is why non-profit organizations exist and why they are able to source funding for their missions. Even businesses that operate for profit may have such a positive environmental or social impact that the level of profits alone cannot fully measure their success. Take for example a utility company that invests heavily in renewable energy and experiences losses in two years following that investment. The short term losses, will undesirable, may be overshadowed by long term impact of the transition to a cleaner source of energy.
Ideas are valuable and great ideas even more so. Not all ideas will be the next big thing, but innovation requires brainstorming and trial and error before genuinely useful new products and services are invented. The process of innovation can be expensive and yield little or no monetary profits in the short term. It however, is an essential part of business which is why some companies have whole departments dedicated to research and development. The ideas hatched today may actually be the cash cows of tomorrow and/or may inspire the next wave of technology developments.
It is possible for a business to develop and polish the products and services that it offers before it is able to monetize these goods and services. During that period the business may garner fans, users, supporters and attract investors, but may not be able to match the enthusiasm with sales. Sometimes the right business model just has to be figured out. In these situations the potential of the business means that profitability is expected eventually so the company should not be written off. It is a risk but the potential rewards are also high.
More and more businesses are being judged not only by what they provide but by how well they treat current and potential customers. It is easier than ever for people who interact with businesses to publicly express and share their experiences – good or bad. Businesses with superior customer service gain a good reputation and stand to gain more business through referrals and repeat customers. On the contrary, if a business neglects t respect and treat customers well it may face a lot of negative publicity on blogs and social media.
Make no mistake – your company will be judged by the bottom line. Profitability will be an unavoidable metric used to measure your success in business. Bear in mind however that profit is not all that is important. There are many other factors to consider in making your business a true success and ignoring these factors may discourage a entrepreneur on the verge of success.