Small-business owners can learn a lot from the rise of Malcolm Gladwell’s star, not to mention his collected works of nonfiction.
There is, for example, his undaunted persistence in the face of early rejection. While most people now know Gladwell from his insightful articles for The New Yorker and his bestselling books, The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers, few know that his undergraduate grades didn’t qualify him for graduate school, which led to his decision to pursue advertising … a career he never actually entered because he couldn’t get a single agency to hire him.
As the English proverb goes, “Time is the soul of business.” What are the biggest time thieves in business? Research shows that, next to conversations at the water cooler and computer and software problems, meetings are the biggest culprit. They are an insidious productivity killer for small-business owners.
Well-conducted meetings can lead to enhanced communication and greater buy-in and consensus. However, many meetings fail to achieve objectives because the person running the meeting didn’t plan the end properly. Do you do any of the following at the end of your meetings?
A lot of people view brainstorming in an additive way—we’re adding to the number of ideas. But that’s not the power of the group. The group’s power comes from the synergy that goes beyond the additive. What the most creative companies do is tell the members of the group to come up with lists of ideas before they come to the brainstorming session. What the group is really powerful for is exchanging ideas and then having ideas bump up against one another and merge in surprising new ways that any one person might not have thought of on their own.
Success is never a solo endeavor. You need to find the right people to support you, advise you, and stretch you to realize your dream. Mentors and sponsors are vital, and each brings special strengths and attributes to your cause.
Progress is through collaboration, not confrontation.
Do you know who you are and what you do? Can you eloquently explain that to a stranger in one minute or less? Use these 5 steps to perfect your elevator pitch:
1. Introduce yourself.
2. Identify the problem your company solves.
3. Announce your promise.
4. Offer proof and a plan.
5. Know when to stop and listen.