When you look at really successful business owners you may think they are self-serving, but rarely is that true. Most successful people are problem solvers. They see a problem and strive to fix it. Joy Mangano of HSN fame wakes up every day with one question in her mind, “What can I do to help others?” She believes that we all owe the world something. She has created products for jewelry, travel, baked goods and more.
It’s not all about you is an important theme to keep running through your head when you are in business. It is important when you are designing a product, pitching it to others, working with employees, and when you are so tired you want to quit. The driving force of working for a greater good will keep you grounded when the hours get long and the days are discouraging.
In my consulting work it is easy to see the people who are starting or owning a small business for wealth and selfish designs and those who are not. Don’t get me wrong, everyone who starts a business is doing it to make money. The difference is in the desire to solve a problem while maintaining humility.
Running a business is hard work. If what you are doing is not something you are passionate about it is hard to motivate yourself to put in the time day after day. If you know that what you are doing is going to make someone’s life easier or better and you have a vision of that happening in your head, time flows and the hard work becomes a mission.
John bought a small restaurant floundering in the aftermath of the recession and the changing appetites of a more health conscious customer. The restaurant is a historical site and has been in business for almost 100 years. The original wallpaper still dons the walls and the soda fountain still has the same old fashioned charm. John loved the place and hated to see this landmark go up in smoke. He wanted to maintain it for the little town he loved, so he went to work. John is humble enough to know what he doesn’t know and is willing and excited to learn. He works hard, has made hard decisions and turned the business from failing to thriving. John recognizes it is not all about him!
When a person comes to me without having done any market research and when they are so certain of their decisions that they will not listen, they have made the business about ‘them’. Not researching demographics or analyzing the market to see if there is a need for a product is not only arrogant, it is naïve.
I have a friend who trains people in how to pitch to venture capitalists. She will not work with people who are know-it-alls or with people who are proud. It has been fun to watch one of her clients receive funding from several sources. When we first met him, he had a lot to learn! Instead of being cocky about his product or about himself, he humbly listened, worked really hard and put into practice everything he was taught. Now he is reaping the reward for humility.
Jessica Alba wanted to buy eco-friendly household, baby, and bath products, but she couldn’t easily find them in the market so she launched a new company, The Honest Co. She says, “My kids are my top priority. Their health and well-being come first.” Her company came to fruition out of love for her children and her love for the environment. It wasn’t about her.
If you want the kind of success Joy Mangano, Jessica Alba and the others discussed in this blog experienced, give “It’s not all about you” a chance. Develop a solution to a problem, test it in the market place and be a humble learner. You will be thrilled with where it can take you!