The image he shared read: "Your dreams don't have to be 'big'. They just have to be yours." Gary V went on to add that you should be focusing on what truly makes you happy or something that seems awesome to you. What he said are the ideas at the very core of what 'Good to Great' was inspiring me to write about. If you want to know how to start a great business, or how to make a better life for yourself, just be you.
Success is About Building Skills and Knowledge Around What You Love
Many people think that they need special skills or knowledge to be successful. Yes, those are helpful. But, what actually needs to come first is you and what you care about. Building a great brand means being yourself, whether you're creating your own personal brand, a small business, or a large business.
What are you most passionate about? If you look at the greatest entrepreneurs, a lot of them pursued simply what they thought was awesome. Then, they figured out how they could be the best in the world on a niche or niches related to their passion. After that, they figured out how they could measure profitability in that given field.
Only after doing all these things did they focus on developing related skills and knowledge. Whatever they couldn't do themselves, they brought in the people that could. Then they would set out to build a company around a very focused concept that was created by the intersection of passion, opportunity, and profitability. Everyone brought in needed to share in the passion and buy into the concept. Otherwise, they would be the wrong people to be working with.
Everything starts with you. Yes, skills and knowledge are important. But, it's also important to know what you want first. Then build your knowledge and skills around that. In the book 'Good to Great' this was called building a "Hedgehog Concept" - keeping your focus while ignoring everything else that doesn't fit.
Even the Greatest Companies Start With One
One of the most important and interesting aspects of 'Good to Great' is discovering what it takes to take a good company to a great one in terms of leadership. The vast majority of companies still seem to think that it takes a charismatic individual - often bordering or even being egotistical - to drive success. Yet, it's humble but incredibly driven and focused leaders who effect the best changes in organizations. It's not just in big businesses, either.
'Good to Great' was written in 2001, and yet the ideas don't seem to have been adopted on a wide scale. Sure, I'm sure some people listened and build better organizations. Many corporations featured in the book have continued to endure. Some haven't. But, that's because they lost their focus.
Success Begins With You, The Real You
On an individual level, it does seem more people are realizing success starts with you. Yet, we still see so much posturing, and more than ever with the explosion of social media. Not only did social media not exist in 2001 as it does now, but the internet was still fairly new in the mainstream.
Today, it seems like you have to have incredible charisma and do whatever it takes to get likes and followers. You need the right skills and experience or you're just not going to make it. But, while big numbers of followers and likes are nice and shiny, they aren't a true measure of success.
Many things that seem to be successful aren't actually sustainable, built on hype and exposure more than substance. We need to recognize that it's still the same humble folks dedicated to the success of the enterprise over themselves still working behind the scenes building up everything. But, what is happening more is entrepreneurs are selling off their projects for big money and just moving onto new ones.
Many of these business flippers just want the best for what they've created. So, they are happy to let it go and move onto another passion. But as it's always been, great endeavors still start with one or two people who just set out to do something they thought was awesome.
But, You Don't Have to Go Big to Be Great
One of the final lessons of 'Good to Great' was that you don't have to create a big corporation, go public, or even flip your business to be successful. You just have to stay focused, put the enterprise first, and involve yourself with the right people. "Get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus," as is repeated over and over again in 'Good to Great'. They need to be people who believe in your concept and are willing to adapt and learn according to what needs to be done.
Even if you are going solo in your business, you still need people to believe. It may be your vendors and customers. You don't even have to have employees to find the right people. They might be social media influencers or PR people. They could be a marketer or private investor. It doesn't matter if you want to keep it small, as long as it's what makes your enterprise successful. What you may find is that so many people believe in your concept that they will grow it for you without anyone asking them to.
In fact, you shouldn't just be happy with just building something good. Even if it's successful, never stop finding ways to improve. When there's a shift in your field, face the facts and adapt to remain the best in a changing world. That's as long as it's still within the parameters you set for yourself, even if it means a dramatic shift in the product or service you offer.
So, What Business Do YOU Want to Start?
Yes, going into a field just because you think it's awesome is worth giving a shot. Of course, it's something you must have a passion for, even if you don't consider your skills and knowledge up to par. Focus on what you are most familiar with and identify how you can bring value to that field.
It can be tempting to jump on a hot new bandwagon. If you actually can provide value, then it's worth checking out. But, what's more important is knowing you can provide value. You don't have to reinvent anything, just reimagine.
This is where focus comes in. You'll want to start by becoming a curator of great content surrounding your choice field. Not only is this a great way to build up your social media presence and website content, but it also shows you what's being done and what the gaps in knowledge and skills may be that you could fill.
True Success Doesn't Happen Overnight, So Just Set Goals and Believe in What You Are Doing
Don't worry about "going big" until there's enough of a plan for your concept to sustain itself. It's fine to start a "pre-launch sequence." Purchase a domain name and set up social media accounts were set up. This is a good way to gauge early interest. You don't need to have early success with your pre-launch to validate your concept. But it can help you find what works, what hasn't worked, and what could work.
The aim of whatever you set out to do is to become the best at whatever you plan to do. You don't have to be number one in any one industry, just the best at the specific thing you are trying to do. Finding that one thing you can dominate takes time, but it's worth finding.
What is Your Focus? What Ties Everything Together?
At the heart of what you're doing with your concept is what you're most excited about. Don't try to wear too many hats on your own. Seek out help in the areas you aren't best at. You'd be surprised how many people are happy to offer advice.
You don't have to become a celebrity or even consider yourself that charismatic. What you do have to be good at is identifying trends and making a plan around them. Keep your focus on building on just one thing.
Don't just become a jack of all trades and a master of none. Focus on what you're best at, think intelligently about trends, and identifying what can make a sustainable business. Especially, if you're going into an emerging industry, that's key.
What About Diversifying? Isn't a Hedgehog Concept Too Limiting?
Staying focused doesn't mean pigeonholing yourself. Not everyone is going to buy into your concept. What's important is to stay open and adaptable without losing focus. Not doing so I'd where most people go wrong. That doesn't mean you shouldn't diversify. In fact you can run multiple businesses and ventures at once successfully. Gary V is the perfect example. The key is to have a focus that ties together everything you do.
In the case of the Brand Shamans, our services and related media exist to help people be more successful. We want people to be able to make the most of their passion, skills, and knowledge. Anything related to those goals is worthy of us pursuing.
Don’t Settle for Second Best, and Be the Best At What YOU Do!
What you have to ask yourself is how you can make a venture into the best that it can be at something. Never settle for second best, and certainly not third or fourth best. Individuals and small businesses may not think that it's possible but it is, if you have the right focus.
The Brand Shamans are all about guiding folks to find the right focus. Whether a business is failing or not, it doesn't matter. Even successful businesses, no matter the scale, can always improve.
The change always starts with you. Focus on the best you have to offer, whatever that takes, and make whatever you're doing into a great venture. If you can't do that, then it's time to go and find the right venture for you.