LEARNING TO BE FLEXIBLE!
Do you want to increase profits? It’s all about being flexible and keeping an open mind:
Flexibility & the ability to adapt & make changes is key when it comes to running a business & seeing a profit.
I am in the business of home staging. We have a business plan and model that we are constantly revising to adapt to changing circumstances & things we are learning. I am constantly challenged, even with two decades of owning my own businesses.
Today’s business owners need to be savvy on multiple fronts: internet marketing, social media marketing & continual changes to the sites we are all learning to use. This is a different business world than the one I first met two decades ago.
But the overall principles for success in business have not really changed. The underlying tenets to creating a successful business are the same, but how we go about it & the tools we need to master are different.
THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR!
Thinking like an entrepreneur requires a basic skill set. You can find dozens of articles on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. Almost every list includes having a passion for your business, tenacity, vision, the ability to take risks, break rules & learn from setbacks.
What does it take to move from that basic skill set and turn an idea into a successful business? Of all the traits I have seen listed, I believe flexibility and adaptability are the most important. It is the same for the survival of any organism.
Success in business is founded on adaptability and the ability to assess where you are & make necessary changes. That takes an open mind. It means being able to make an honest appraisal of what is working and what is not.
You may need to consider questioning the belief that you are ever finished with creating your business model. There is a fine line between finding what works and staying with that & being able to see when circumstances have changed & when you need to adapt to move on.
Successful business owners are committed to constantly looking at their business model and being brutally honest about what is working and what is not. They are open to a constant flow of new ideas and changes in the marketplace and how we are being challenged to market with changes in technology.
That social media site that gave you 90% of your business in 2010? Well, it may not be much of a player in 2015. We all know how fast things change today.
Entrepreneurs know the value of rule-breaking at times and the ability to look ahead and defy convention when we see a new open road. People who are able to spot trends in the early stages have a huge advantage.
Get your ducks looking like this…
TRY SOMETHING NEW!
A step beyond recognizing & moving with trends is the entrepreneur who is able to break with convention and actuallycreate change. The freethinkers of yesterday who defied convention became the innovators who broke through outdated models in their field. They were the ones who had the courage to break out of the norm & come up with new ideas that changed the world.
Many of the world’s great innovators, from great artists to literary geniuses to business giants, were mocked when they first came out with ideas that defied conventional thinking. Think: Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs & Larry Page. They were all freethinkers who were unafraid of taking risks and creating something new.
Flexibility and adaptability show up in many small ways in the way we think and act. The words we think and speak reflect our attitudes about how the world works and can show us just how open-minded we really are when we take a hard look.
THINK SOMETHING NEW!
If we accept that mastering the art of being flexible and adaptable can translate into a more successful business – which in the long run means greater profits - how do we do make that change?
First look at a couple of definitions. “Open-minded” is defined as being “willing to consider different ideas or opinions”. “Flexibility” is defined as “the ability to recognize & adapt to fluctuating situations.”
What could be more fluctuating than the rapidly changing world of technology today where we are trying to do business?
It all comes back to how we think. If you accept that you have the power to direct your thinking, then you realize you can change your thinking habits to become more open-minded and flexible. We have the power to re-frame the way we think and train ourselves to become less rigid in our thinking.
Rather than sticking with an opinion that is unwavering, we can chose to step back, reserve judgment and consider new options.
A FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: A.L.C.
One way to look at it is to try the formula: ALC: “Act”, “Learn”, “Change”. In life we are always going to need to “Act” in order to put an idea into motion. Once we do that, if we have an analytical approach with an open mind we can assess how that idea worked, “Learn” from its successes and failures, then “Change” - that is what adaptation is all about. Do that once, then do it again & keep on doing it. The process never stops.
Try it – make a decision about something you want to try with your business. Let’s take advertising. You make the decision to “Act” and take an ad out on FaceBook. You watch the analytics and you see how the ad is doing. It’s not performing the way you had projected.
Begin to research how other people are doing the same thing and see what kind of results they are getting. Figure out what they are doing differently. “Learn” from that analysis. Then “Change” the things that are not working. Then start over and do it again.
ALLOW THE WORDS YOU USE TO CREATE WEALTH!
How we think is reflected in what we say and do. If you’ve made a decision to be more flexible and adaptable, try tracking how you are putting that into action as you interact with others. What you ‘put out there’ can indeed affect where you end up.
Here is a small example of how this works in my business. I see a lot of discussions about my field in articles and on social media sites. There is always some discussion on best business practices. One such community for business owners is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has some great opportunities for business networking and sharing ideas through discussions that offer support to business owners. The group discussions allow people to post questions and answers to a wide range of topics. It is a great place to learn.
One of the most interesting things I have learned from that site, is that there is a tendency for many participants to have firm, uncompromising, even judgmental, beliefs about just about everything - from basic rules for how a home should be staged (should you use table settings in kitchens or trays on beds, silk vs. real plants, air mattresses, leave business cards at homes you’ve staged), to the best business model (should you rent furniture or own your own), or the best way to use internet marketing – the list goes on & on.
The discussions can get heated and sometimes the participants are downright insulting to one another. You hear “I would NEVER do XYZ…” or “anyone who does XYZ is ….” – not the model for an open and supportive discussion and the free flow of ideas. You’re not learning when you head is filled with judgments.
Reserving judgment and thinking before you speak may not only be a kinder alternative, it can help you train yourself to keep an open mind. Doing that allows you to explore the possibility that someone else might have a better idea.
Even if you still don’t agree 100%, by keeping an open mind you may find that there is some small lesson that you would otherwise have overlooked had you not indulged yourself with that “AHA, I would never do that”- moment. That small lesson could result in a slight ‘tweak’ you make to your own business model that ends up making a difference. Sometimes those ‘small’ ideas create breakthrough moments for your business.
AN OPEN MIND WILL ADD TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT!
For me the answer is that there is no one right way to do any of these things. There is no ‘one size fits all’. It depends on the situation: your geographic location, your client, the current market, availability of resources, budget constraints, local tastes and trends. For home stagers, if the home is at the beach an ocean-themed décor plan may be perfect year-round – in Ohio in the dead of winter, that’s not going to work.
If you step back and reserve judgment, listen and learn, you may decide that your opinion that inventory purchased at the local discount store is tasteless is unfounded - it might be the perfect solution for someone else in a different area with a different budget. It might even work for you someday. And rudely expressing that judgment has just shutdown someone in the discussion. When we don’t keep an open mind we are at a standstill.
It is the free-flow of ideas that is at the heart of being flexible and adaptable. If we learn to check our egos at the door and step back from making broad judgments about how other people run their businesses, we might just learn something. And that little thing we learn might be just the thing we need to know to succeed & grow profits.
While the examples here might seem silly to those outside the field of home staging, the basic issue – being flexible & adaptable when it comes to how you approach your business model - is critical to seeing your company grow. Inflexibility can show up in the many tiny ways we interact every day.
In order to live things need to grow and change. Being open to that change, not set in old, narrow ways of thinking, can be your greatest tool to creating a successful business & seeing greater profits.
May you all succeed doing the thing you love most!