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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 30


Trust your gut. When we were younger we once met an experienced entrepreneur who listened to our pitch, had a lunch with us and finally shook our hands. Appearantly we were in business together. We were sort of shocked. We had never done a deal so quickly or with so little effort. We felt we hadn´t given him nearly as much details and background as was necessary. But he felt differently. He pointed towards his stomach with one of his hands and told us he had immediately felt good about it. He liked us, and he wanted to do business with us. Over the years it turned out to be a great arrangement for all parties. Years later that incident sort of stuck with us and we believe we have finally started to catch on to what he meant. We too have made decisions based on a gut feeling lately. We wouldn´t do it a decade ago. But today we feel comfortable about it providing we get a hunch that we are onto something that could be profitable. We believe that the power of intutition is a two-edged sword. For some it may work wonders. For others who place too much trust in it, it could prove to be a very expensive experience indeed. So how do you know the difference? Easy.

Intuition is your subconscious mind trying to tell you something. But in order for that information to be of any value you must first have plenty of experience in dealing with the problem your subconscious mind is trying to solve. After all it is experience which will aid you in sorting out what to do based on what has happened before in similar situations. For instance, if we negotiate a deal with somebody we will often get an intuitive feeling about that deal. And we will put a great deal of trust in that intuition. Why? Because we have been part of thousands ands thousands of negotiations over the years. We know what a good negotiation feels like and we also know how a bad one feels like. We have been there and done that. Countless of times. I think it would be fair to say that we have been exposed to most possible situations that can arise in a negotiation. And it wouldn´t be far-fetched to assume that we have picked up on some of the clues of those situations. It could be the way they position their bodies. Or perhaps it´s the way they keep repeating something while their eyes move in a certain direction. Or it could be how they responded to a particular question or a certain line of discussion. Perhaps we didn´t notice all those things back then. But our subconscious minds probably did. Thnk about it. Your subconscious mind is truly an amazing supercomputer. You can do other things, and it will just go on autopilot and do stuff for you. For instance, when you are unlocking the door to your home, you don´t really have to think about it, do you? You could be busy talking in your cell phone or reading the paper, and yet before you know it you are inside the comfort of your home. There are times you can´t even recall that you unlocked the doors. That´s ok. While you were busy doing other things with your conscious mind, your subconscious mind did what you wanted it to do. And it could do it because it had the experience of thousands of similar situations to fall back on. It was just a matter of retrieving that information and acting accordingly. Of course, the part that may seem a little bit scary is that the subconscious mind can do all this while we are consciously focusing on doing something completely different. And that´s just the thing with intuition. the subconscious mind is collecting and analyzing information for us every single moment that we are awake. The fact that we are ignorant about that process doesn´t make it any less important.

So there you have it. When the subconscious mind speaks we should listen to it, providing that we haev the experience to back it up. Intuition is valuable if you are involved in a situation you are familiar with. You subconscious mind has you covered. We would like to end this section by sharing a true story that we heard today. A very wise and successful entrepreneur who is actually the father of one of the entrepreneurs we spend time with on a regular basis told it to us. It deals with three builders he had contracted for rebuilding a garage. Well, he told us he had fired one of the three builders just the other day. We were intrigued. Why had he fired him? Had he done something wrong, and in that case what was it? At first he couldn´t give us an answer. He just didn´t want that particular fellow working there anymore. As we keept asking him more about his decision the pices of the puzzle started to fall into place one by one. It turns out he felt something was wrong with the situation. When he thought about the situation some more he finally remembered a couple of details, and clearly it was those details that had disturbed him. The builder that got fired wes wearing flip flops. Also he was spotless. The other two workers were always sweaty and full of dust but this particular fellow looked like he had walked out of a magazine ad every day. And he got fired because of a hunch. But once that hunch was questioned and analyzed by the rest of us it turrns out there was probably a lot more analysis behind that hunch than anubody initially thought. Clearly the subconscious had picked up on something that the conscious mind only extracted to the surface several days later under the scrutiny of our questions. His intuition had made the choice for him. But that choice had a lot more rational thought behind it than most people would guess. We can´t really tell you whether or not he was wrong or not about the flip flop worker. All that we can tell you is that we have found that it pays to listen to your gut and follow your intuition. But that only applies if you have a reason to believe that your subconscious has had ample opportunity to learn from previous experiences. If you´ve been around the block, you just might have developed the ability to size up the situation accurately. If that is the case your intuition is a truly powerful ally in any business situation you might find yourself into. Listen to it and your rewards will be great.


Don´t do it all by yourself. We know how easy it is to try to do everything by yourself, or at least double-check every single detail of every single aspect of your enterprise and its products or services. We´ve been there, and unfortunately we´re still finding ourselves doing that far too often. We have found this line of behaviour among many entrepreneurs. They want to have the hands-on experience. They want to get their hands dirty. They want to know all the details, and they never get tired or bored about trying to find ways to improve their offering. Those are all good traits to have as an entrepreneur but it is important not to overdo it. You need to be able to put more trust in the ability of other people. If you believe in them and put them in charge, they will respond to that challenge. On the other hand, if they feel supervised and somewhat mistrusted they are never going to grow as employees.

It is only logical that an entrepreneur knows every little bit of his enterprise early on in his careeer. But as his business grows, the entrepreneur needs to grow with it. This takes courage. Gone are the days when micromanagement was the name of the game. All of a sudden it´s time for delegation and trust. Even though they really try to play by the new set of rules, many entrepreneurs have a hard time following those rules. Habits that have been ingrained over decades don´t just fly away overnight. It takes time. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are unable to let go regardless of how long they try to adapt to the new situation. How could they? It´s their baby. And there´s very little they don´t know about it. Surely, nobody will be bothered by a few suggestions here and there. The problem is that those few, short suggestions have the nasty habit of becoming a lot more extensive than what was initially intended. You can´t teach an old dog to sit.

Actually, the deep knowledge of the entrepreneur of his/her business and company is a major disadvantage when trying to deal with these issues. Since they are so knowledgeable they catch onto mistakes and inferior work immediately. And at that point it becomes almost impossible to fight the urge to take over and show them how it should be done. This is alright, as long as it´s an attempt to transfer the skill from the entrepreneur to the employee. If that is the case we have no objections to it. It´s a good trade-off. Show them once. And hope to see that particular task be done with perfection for the foreseeable future. Obviously this is the best-case scenario and many entrepreneurs can´t help themselves. They do it over and over. After all they are not afraid of some hard work. Hell, they even thrive on it.

But that´s just the problem. Too many entrepreneurs mistake activity for productivity. Just because you are working hard at something doesn´t mean that what you are doing is making any sense from a productivity point of view. Working hard all day and all night to clean your office thoroughly can be both rewarding and fulfilling. But wouldn´t it be better to outsource it and use that energy to find new ways to increase profits instead. You see that´s just it. Many entrepreneurs get stuck in the tactical and operational side of things, the details of daily operations, but they neglect the strategical choices. And at the point that their company is at, it is the strategical choices that will ultimately decide what the bottom line will amount to.

So, after your company has grown into something more than the small-time one or two man show it once was you need to be able to let go of the steering wheel somewhat. Don´t be such a perfectionist. Put some trust in others. They are a lot more capable than you think if you only allow them to be. Leave the tactical and operationsl aspects and instead focus on the strategic challenges of your enterprise. That´s where the real money is. And that is where your knowledge, skills and experience will truly begin to shine through.


Be a leader. Set the standards. You need to set an example for those around you at all times. In the beginning that means you need to be a leader. We are not talking about being boss here. A leader and a boss are two completely different things. Only on rare occasions are they to be found in the same person. And when that happens you have a person that is a profound asset for the business he or she is working for. What we are talking about is the ability set the standard by toeing the line and being a man of action. You must be able to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. That is what inspires people. That is what creates loyalty and company pride. And that is what makes an organization a profitable mechanism. People do not follow company logos, money or power. The hearts of men are not won over by bosses, captains or chiefs. Those are just titles. The hearts of men are won and inspired by true leaders who spend their lifes in the frontlines alongside their comrades. True leaders do not expect that their employees are going to work any harder than they do. That´s why they set an example. True leaders don´t believe in shouting “forward” to their troops, instead they shout “follow me”. That´s why they set the standard by asking the very most out of themselves first. Only then can they ask anything from their employees.

Do you think it´s a coincidence that so many successful businessmen are still working in their companies on a daily basis alongside their employees? We know it is not. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs of or time are great for a number of reasons. But the ability to inspire their workers by leading by example is chief among those reasons. many of these entrepreneurs have spent the better part of their lives working side by side with their employees. That kind of commitment builds trust, loyalty, pride and excellence. Many of these entrepreneurs make a point out of having their office as close to the daily operations of the company as possible.

We could tell you hundreds of stories about entrepreneurs who are leading by example. We know many entrepreneurs that lead, not with their voice but with their actions. And they are all successful. We suspect their leadership ability played a significant part in that success. They say that action speaks louder than words. We have found that when it comes to leadership this is an absolute truth. But instead of telling you one of the many stories we have aquired on this topic over the years why not simply go to the master of this particular art form. There is one entrepreneur who is truly head and shoulders above the rest of his peers when it comes to leading by example. There is one entrepreneur who is known by his employees, friends and competitors for being a leader in the most fundamental sense of the world. This european entrepreneur is perhaps not known in all parts of the world, but we can assure you that his creation is. Some of you may not have heard about the unassuming, humble, Swedish entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad from the small village of Agunnaryd. But most, if not all, of you have come across IKEA. IKEA is the world´s largest furniture company with a focus on providing good function, good design and good quality at low prices. From a small humble start at the farm of Elmtaryd where Ingvar Kamprad was raised, he now oversees a company with 300+ megastores with 130 000+ employees. And to this day he has remained the perfect example of what can be accomplished by leading by example.

Ingvar Kamprad is not just famous for being cheap. He is famous for taking great pride in being cheap. He feels that by trying to save a buck here and there he is setting the perfect example for how he expects and hopes his employees to behave. He is widely known for his humble demeanour and willigness to walk the extra mile in order to cut unnecessary costs. He is considered to be one of the richest men of the world yet he drives a Volvo that has been with him for decades. He likes to take the subway to work whenever he can, and on his business trips he always makes sure to go by economy class. Whenever Ingvar Kamprad does one of his many visits to an IKEA store he is constantly chatting with the personnel about how to improve things for the customers, or how to cut costs even further. He often takes a quick snack at IKEA. It´s not unusual to see him have one of those legendary, cheap IKEA hot dogs. And the hot dogs are really just one thing of the IKEA food menu that´s cheap. IKEA has very cheap breakfast and lunch offers as well. In fact there are countries where restaurant owners have protested against the extremely low prices that IKEA charges for their dishes. They claim that IKEA uses the pricing structure of its food just to lure in customers. This may be true, but really that´s only a small part of the complete story. The pricing is also a part of the IKEA culture. By doing mass volume of everything and by only making a minimal profit on each item they sell, they can charge prices that could be viewed as offensive to competitors. But none of this would be, were it not for the man who founded the company in 1943 and has been both preaching and practising austerity ever since. That man has been leading by example for almost seven decades, and walking into one of his stores you can almost sense the incredible effort he has put in. Great things take time, and IKEA sure is a great thing.


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