Last week, I spent some time reviewing and reflecting on the first half of the year. I have learned from John Maxwell that it is not experience that is the best teacher, but ‘evaluated experience’. My approach to reviewing the year is to examine what worked, what did not work and what I did not attempt because of procrastination.
The first half of the year was definitely not what I expected, as I personally experienced how the challenges in the economy can drill down to even the common man on the street.
However, taking an objective view, there were some positive things that happened: like starting the Entrepreneurs Journey radio show on WFM 91.7, and organising the Success Circle Africa Inaugural Conference. There were also some unexpected challenges in some of my programs, where projections did not go as planned. I have come to appreciate the constant ups and downs in life, because I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
I have decided to share a few lessons I have learned:
Focus on serving not selling
I have read a few articles that speak about having a service mind-et in your business, and I am a proponent of having excellent customer service. But the truth is, a lot of us business owners face the pressure to want to sell to pay the bills. When you focus on service, you put the customer’s needs ahead. When you focus on selling, you put your needs first. When you conduct your business with a mindset to serve and not sell, you win your customers’ trust and build a long term relationship with them.
Customers vote with their money
I have to confess that I learned this the practical way. I created a new program and I was optimistic that it would do well because I believe it was what my customers needed. It did not do as well as I thought. How did I find out? By the response or lack of it thereof!
Customers show you what they like by their willingness to spend their money. The experience taught me never to create anything without engaging the potential customers actively to ensure it will meet their needs.
Make the best of what you have
In my experience coaching business owners, some of them are usually quick to tell me that the reason they have not made progress is because of what they do not have. The truth is that no one who is successful today had all they needed. They just learned to make the best of what they have. I also believe that God does not waste resources. If you don’t make the best of what you have, more will not be given to you. So, if you are complaining that you don’t have all you need to succeed, take a step back and evaluate what you have and make the best of it. Believe me, it is what you need to go to the next level.
Faithfulness is more important than winning
I recently learned this from Michael Hyatt when he shared the story of running Thomas Nelson during the recession a couple of years ago. He shared that the recession affected their performance and they were far below their revenue projections and he knew the situation was beyond his control and the only thing he could do was stay faithful to his mandate and do the best he could. As business owners, there will be things beyond our control, and it is more important that we stay faithful to our business, even if we are not achieving our financial projections. That is what will guarantee your long term success.
Failure is Instructive
Failing sucks! I have to admit that I used to despise failing; I remember when I failed my ICAN exams for the first time some years ago, I felt that the world had ended. When I failed it the second time, I sat up and decided to stop sulking and examine what I was doing wrong.
I have come to see failure as a very instructive teacher that has been sent by life to force us to learn lessons we would have otherwise ignored. During my review I have had to confront some of my own failings and I have drawn lessons from them, so that I can do things better going forward.
I named my radio show the ‘Entrepreneur’s Journey’ because I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a journey not a destination. It is filled with ups and downs and only those willing to learn and grow will achieve long term success.
As you go through the second half of the year, review, evaluate and make necessary course corrections.
I will also add; invest in knowledge you are lacking and if you want to upgrade your marketing skills so you can connect more with your customers, check out my upcoming marketing master class here