There is a Danish proverb, “The strongest among the weak is the one who doesn’t forget his weaknesses.”
This statement could not be more applicable to my situation when starting a new business.
I felt like this weakness was an impenetrable shield preventing me from reaching my goals. I have worked for the “institution” all my adult life and I do not come from a long line of entrepreneurs. But besides being a first-time entrepreneur, I was also painfully aware that there were some aspects of business that I had no clue about or I absolutely found uncomfortable or was inept at executing.
For instance, as a lover of all things of the written and spoken word, financial reports, bookkeeping or even math, in general, was my nemesis. I would literally have heart palpitations and break out in a sweat because I couldn’t remember my financial projections without looking at the paper. However, these were the very things I was faced with when opening my education centre. As anyone who opens a business can tell you, one must count the cost first, and keep counting, if you want to have a profitable business. Besides, putting my head in the sand did not make the problem go away. So there were some steps I had to take to ensure that I not only faced my fears but also turned my weaknesses into strengths.
Admit your weakness
Most 12-step recovery programmes would tell you the best way to conquer your habit is to admit to it. There is something freeing about admitting your fear and even saying it aloud. It reveals and releases the hidden and your mountain of a problem doesn’t seem so high to climb. Rental car company Avis used this same honest approach with their slogan, “When you’re only number two, you try harder” after they admitted they were not as popular as other car rental companies like Hertz. Their admission made their profit margins rise to $1.2 million after they had not hit that mark in a decade, and the campaign was successful for another 50 years after that “admission”. Of course, this was also a great marketing strategy, but it also serves as a lesson – that admission of one’s weakness is a strength. Additionally, when you admit a weakness, you may also find yourself in a similar company. You might be surprised to know that someone was once where you are and can offer great advice. When you have released it, you have now arrived at the place where you can decide to reach out and receive help.
There are a plethora of resources and people available to help if you have a need. Once you admit you have a deficiency, then be willing and humble enough to seek help so you can improve and move forward successfully. I immediately employed the services of a financial advisor to help put together the business plan (something I had no clue on how to do). Having a sound business plan really helped me to be realistic about future projections, potential pitfalls, and just knowing my product inside and out. Having this on paper, well-laid out and explained, made me feel more confident and comfortable about what I was doing. After I received my plan, I spent a few minutes each night going through it and studying it, because I wanted to be familiar with it in case I was called to account for it. I took advice from trusted business persons from Access Accelerator to “riddle off my numbers” and feel competent about the information.
Surround yourself with good people
Technology guru Steve Jobs once said, “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” I can tell you that without my partner and colleague, Thalia Perez-Ginevra, I would not be as far along in my business career. She is the yin to my yang. She is good with the numbers and since we have opened, we have never been in the red. She covers my weaknesses and I, hers. It also helps that we are on the same page about most things so when it comes to our core values and beliefs, we share the same goals. Great businesses don’t exist in a vacuum; surround yourself with smart people who can cover the areas that are not your strengths. As wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie said, “…surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
Be good to you
Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. If you live long enough, you will constantly be learning and adapting. People are human and make mistakes; businesses evolve or dissolve in the ebb and flow of the economy. However, having a mindset that speaks positively about your life and your passions will help you overcome those obstacles and achieve your goals, even if it takes a little time. So be kind to yourself.