To Strategize for Success, You Need to Aim Higher than Survival

When you make the decision to start your own business, you are making an enormous leap of faith. You are entering a territory of uncertainty after uncertainty and for most people, it’s a path that can only lead to a dead end more often than not.

Only a rare few are able to overcome all the obstacles and drive towards any kind of success. So why do so many make that leap in spite of it all? It’s because they are striving to truly build something of their own, to create, to innovate, and to transcend their circumstances.

Unfortunately, this lofty dream is sometimes too easily lost in the process. It’s a simple thing to get caught up in the moment when you are first setting out on your startup journey, but once you get into the nitty gritty, it’s all too easy to fall back into old habits.

Running a business is hard, and hitting your bottom line is usually enough of a challenge. But when that’s all that we strive for, when survival is the only aim, it diminishes the whole value of setting out on your own in the first place.

The research even suggests that aiming higher may actually be the sound and practical business decision. Bradley Johnson recently penned a white paper where he shares the value of what he calls “downtime opportunity.” He focuses on various moments of severe economic downturn and highlights that innovation in these times had dramatic and long-lasting impact.

A key example that Johnson highlights was General Motors at the time of the Great Depression. They were in danger of losing their investment in the upscale Buick model, but they were able to pivot their strategy.

Instead of focusing on selling new cars, they encouraged people to buy used Buicks instead of new, otherwise cheaper cars. This idea seems commonplace now, but at the time, it completely changed the face of the automotive industry.

This is the kind of strategizing toward success that separates the best. Instead of simply responding to every change that the market forced on them, GM made a proactive move and benefited from it. More often than not, this kind of risk is actually a safer bet than being complacent.

Sticking blindly to the status quo without adjusting to new circumstances can easily be a more expedient path to failure than making an aggressive call. We need look no further than our most recent recession as case in point. Too many believed that a bubble wouldn’t burst and we all suffered for it. It’s critical that we don’t repeat that mistake.

It’s time to stop fearing the precarious circumstances of every new business and to start seeing it instead as an opportunity. Innovation in spite of all the trials is innovation that is going to make lasting impact not just today, but throughout history. That’s a dream that should be held onto tightly no matter how many obstacles that may try to get in the way. “No guts, no glory,” as they say.

— ZK 

Ed Lynes13p5Comment