Successful entrepreneurs know that once they have a business they have access to an unlimited number of additional opportunities. Every customer, every supplier, every employee — everyone they meet is both a bird-dog to opportunities and an opportunity just waiting to be nurtured.
Customers may have other needs beyond just the products and services they buy from your business. Suppliers may need more help (money and talent) to grow their businesses. Employees may want to start their own business and be looking for investors or ways to have the administrative work taken over by someone else. The banker may welcome the chance to introduce you to another of the bank’s clients who needs help. Everyone you meet at a trade show or an association meeting is a candidate for a partnership in a distant territory.
All of these people are resources you know; individuals with strengths and weaknesses you have already figured out how to deal with. All the time you spent investigating opportunities when you were looking for your first business now pays off again. That’s right, besides knowing how to do it better and in most situations quicker, you have direct relationships with prime possibilities.
But there is a kicker. These only bear fruit if you have handled your business well, if you have dealt fairly and honestly with all you came in contact with while building your business.
Once you establish a reputation as someone who can make things happen, as someone who can make a business successful and who is honest and easy to work with and for, people will seek you out. You will have become one of those fortunate few who seem always to be in the right spot at the right time.
When you reach this position you become a participant in a group within your industry that should be trying to expand the industry and their role in the industry. They may be planning to merge and create a bigger company — perhaps one that could go public. You become the person suppliers talk to about customers they are having problems with. One or more suppliers might provide the entrée to customers so you can either help them for a fee (and a percentage) or buy them out for less than the business might normally sell for.
Once you reach the position of a successful businessperson, your phone will ring and when you finish the conversation you will find yourself smiling — wondering how the caller heard about you. Yes, in many respects you will have achieved “star” status.
But that’s rarified air you will start breathing. That’s when it’s so easy to believe that you are really good, even better than you think you are. That’s when you have to become more diligent, pay closer attention to all that you have learned.
First, don’t forget the home front, your business, that which made these opportunities appear. It’s easy to start paying lip service to the controls you have put in place. It’s easy to stop paying attention to the people who still need your leadership, to the business that still needs your vision and your attention to the details. That’s when you want to be sure you know how your customers are doing before they have a problem.
Second, always remember that all of those opportunities come with their own set of problems and risks. And remember that everybody you talk to has his or her own agenda and making you more successful comes second. Their primary objective is to either save their bacon or to figure out how to make money from your talent.
Reaching this point in your career is the time when you need to reign in your ego and become as deliberate and careful as when you were first starting out. In many ways it’s a lot like riding a motorcycle.
Did you know that almost all motorcycle accidents occur right after the riders are positive they know all there is to know about riding one?
Don’t crash your business’ motorcycle while trying to prove how smart you are.
Learn more about this topic in Chapter Thirty in my book.
By Art Consoli
Art Consoli held eight corporate positions with Johnson & Johnson before starting his first business. He went on to build over twenty businesses from patents or ideas or from businesses others couldn’t make successful. These ranged from starting a veterinarian drug company to taking over a steel fabricating company to developing the first manufactured home subdivision to qualify for every private and government assisted mortgage program in Arizona. He also did ten workouts for lenders and owners; the last was a $30 million, 300 employee, precision parts manufacturing plant that made parts for the auto industry. Consoli’s unique background and skills allow him to speak and write about how someone with limited experience can do a self-evaluation which will let him decide which business opportunity is best, how to evaluate opportunities and gain control over the one which offers the greatest potential and then manage that business to success. Readers of his book call and write to tell him how much his book has helped their lives and improved their business.
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