Right now, businesses are overwhelmed by endless new challenges being thrown at them. So much change is happening all at once that it’s hard to make sense of anything. To wait and watch isn’t an option either, as the change is unrelenting.
Regardless of the sector, devising a coherent response to the shock-and-awe of tech invasion, markets in perpetual flux, and shrinking slices of the business pie is a daunting proposition. But even though these factors remain largely outside one’s control, enterprises can augment themselves by internalising the reality of these times.
1. Knowledge is overrated
Whoever said knowledge is power probably never anticipated the internet. Now knowledge is what you get in copious amounts on Google, largely for free. Or what you can buy from a professional or a consultant on a need basis.
Today, true value singularly lies in the ability to effectively marshal resources and get the job done. How much you specifically know or whether you outsource your knowledge is of little consequence.
2. Networking is hard work
“Your network is your net worth” remains a timeless pearl of business wisdom. As a means to get ahead, nothing else comes even close. However, networking is often mistaken for slick elevator pitches or the race to give out the most business cards at a conference.
Networking is actually a major investment of time. It means nurturing relationships before you need them, and being of help before you seek it. Preferably well before.
3. Entertaining bad news is bad for business
Purveyors of bad news love an audience. Broadcasting dire events and statistics gives them a twisted sense of importance. Stay away from them.
While you needn’t bury your head in the sand, habitually lending a sympathetic ear to the “things are bad” narrative causes negativity to seep into one’s subconscious.
Next, you’re giving yourself “valid” excuses to underperform or fail. And your mind gets to work on actualising self-fulfilling prophecies premised on “things are bad in general, that’s why things are bad for me”.
4. Even great ideas aren’t worth much
All of us have had amazing ideas that we hopelessly fell in love with. But ideas, even of the sublime variety, are a dime a dozen. You’ve probably heard it before — viable execution relevant to a specific business context is the only thing that matters.
If the great idea graveyard were an actual place, it would be a terribly big one.
5. Never go solo
When embarking on any business journey, always make sure it’s with at least one other stakeholder who has a compatible vision and skill set that complements (not mirrors) yours. The combination of two or more minds, also known as the mastermind, is exponentially more impactful than an individual one.
Consider any business success worth its salt, and you will invariably find two or more people behind it, even if some chose to work incognito.
6. Beware the shrinking attention span
You may not have a formal diagnosis, but the digital age has inflicted a degree of ADD on most of us. With so much vying for our attention, we have simply lost the ability to focus.
Against such a backdrop, one cannot overstate the importance of commanding and sustaining complete attention of one’s business target by being short, precise and memorable.
7. A handshake beats a signature any day
Why meet when just a call will do? And why call when a mail will do? After all, we’re all busy to our eyeballs with non-stop “stuff that needs to be done. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.
But despite the sea change around us, its still people who do the business ... with people. And the nuances of direct human interaction involving chemistry, empathy and instinct remain irreplaceable.
8. Relax and have fun, even if the going is tough (especially if the going is tough!)
Our psyche tricks us into thinking that remaining grim and pensive in the face of adversity is more likely to solve the problem. Moreover, responding with levity to adverse events seems inappropriate.
But the truth is biologically proven — it’s a relaxed, focused mind that prevails during trying times. Fretting simply wastes energy that we only have in finite amounts.
Persistently reminding yourself of these truths will eventually make them an intrinsic part of your business philosophy, and will help you stay the course through inevitable winds of change.
(Sanjay Duggal is vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa Franchise Association.)