So in my day-to-day business dealings there are some fundamental lessons that can change the impact you have and the revenue you have the ability to generate. I’ll give you the heads up, though; two out of the four lessons are not the typical things you will find in business books.
To stand out and cut through the noise of your competitors, you must have a different approach. Some of the most successful startups have learnt these lessons early, which is why they have been able to scale and grow so quickly.
Like anything that you will hear me suggest, they’re pretty straightforward concepts that make logical sense to any rational human. A lot of these lessons though are directly tied to personal development concepts, which is why they are not known or practised by everyone.
Here are the four business lessons that I believe can be transformational.
1. Always have an open mind
In traditional corporate business, the number one trait that is missing is the willingness to have an open mind. I have seen this first hand and I don’t point it out to be negative. The reality is that a lot of the challenges that big business face are around getting people to be open to new ideas.
Many times I have seen ideas shut down even before they are properly explained. It’s this phenomenon that has actually caused some employees to leave and start their own startup (this is cool at the same time). Now the good news is that this issue is not hard to change at all.
It requires us to have the same approach that we use for brainstorming. If you follow the rules of brainstorming, then all you need to do is allow ideas to be read out and written down, without interruption, even if they are no good or not relevant.
Through this methodology, it allows ideas to be at least heard which is step one. Fundamentally, though, the reason a lot of traditional business people aren’t open-minded is because they have limiting beliefs. They think that change might create more work or expose the business to high risks.
In reality, I believe the exact opposite is true. Being open-minded creates innovation that allows more efficiency and less work. It also de-risks the business because in business today, the riskiest thing you can do is not be open-minded, not change, not innovate and then become less relevant to your customers – food for thought.
By understanding the need to be open-minded and ensuring you do it as much as possible, you have the potential to transform your business environment.
2. Look at other industries to find solutions
So this lesson came from Mat Jacobson of Ducere, who made the point to me that a lot of the time we are trying to solve challenges that have existed in our own industry for a long time. His belief is that you need to look outside of your industry.
By looking outside of your industry, you can find strategies that you may not have thought before and get a totally different perspective. I have been trying this out and found it to be quite powerful. I now challenge myself to go to the most left of centre industries to find innovation.
3. Meet lots of people
So typical business people definitely meet people and understand the value of this. My challenge to you is to do it more often with no agenda in mind. Don’t walk around an event with a big salesman sign on your face and tell people you came to network.
Try going to business events with no agenda and just asking what other people are doing. Spend as much of your time as you can asking about the other person. Not only does this create rapport, but it will give you much different results.
Some of the best contacts I have made have come from going to the strangest of events where I only went out of curiosity. Now all good entrepreneurs have curiosity so if you’re not naturally curious, then you should work on this too.
Similar to the previous point, try going to events that are beyond the realm of your industry. Sometimes I find that when I go to business functions within my own industry, everyone I meet is someone I have met before – this quickly gets boring.
4. Build reciprocal business (otherwise it’s all price)
So a concept I have been trying is only to build business where it can be reciprocal. A lot of the time, when business is not reciprocal, it can just become all about price. The question to ask yourself is, how does my company become a customer of someone that is already doing business with us?
This change in thinking means that you now have leverage. It means that for that customer of yours to leave you, they are at risk of you leaving them as a customer. Now you can’t do this with everyone but it’s another way to think about doing business.
In my world, it makes a customer what we call sticky. Now when there is value being exchanged both ways, it can lead to other opportunities such as partnerships, mergers, acquisitions, the sharing of databases, etc
“When two companies have a two-way exchange of value it becomes much more than doing business” – Tim Denning