How to Succeed in Business, Part 1 of 3

Winthrop Jeanfreau

There are myriad books that titillate us with the promise of riches through some unique formula or insight recently discovered by the flavor of the month “expert” on the topic. Some of these experts promise to reveal rediscovered ancient wisdom. Some refer to the latest academic discovery on how to manipulate customers into frenzied purchasing. Others promise wealth through a “system” that, once mastered, will open heaven’s gate to perpetual wealth.

I’ve sat through hundreds of presentations by these “so called” experts, and read widely on the topic of business success. In the end, I’ve come to the defensible conclusion that the only path to success in business is to find the answer to three questions, and then execute on those answer as flawlessly as possible.

The questions are simple to ask, but difficult to answer, and when I say answer, what I’m REALLY meaning is the kind of answer that is of the bedrock variety… the kind you have an emotive response to, that you know is true deep in your bones.

Without the kind of conviction that comes from those sorts of answers, you’ll never develop the resolve necessary to carry through on your intentions and be able to weather the opposition to your resolve that will always manifest itself, and do so at the time you’re least prepared to deal with it.

When you develop that kind of conviction… the kind that only comes from discovering the capital T kind of truth, you become an unstoppable whirling dervish of momentum, capable of moving mountains and withstanding even the most ardent naysayers.

The questions I’ve had to find the answers to for every one of the businesses I’ve started and managed to success are:

  1. What problem am I solving?
  2. How am I solving it uniquely?
  3. What is the value proposition that my potential customers recognize as meaningful and compelling?

As I mentioned, the questions ask easy, but they answer hard.

The answers to these questions are most always elusive, and it’s VERY common for those seeking their answers to pacify themselves with poorly researched conclusions or half-truths. Actually identifying a problem that no one else is addressing is rare. That kind of brilliant insight is what the US Patent Office refers to as a “moment of genius”. The discovery of the shape of the human DNA is that sort of discovery.

Most of our “moments of genius” are of the evolutionary rather than revolutionary type. But they can be just as financially rewarding. The evolutionary type of problem solving occurs when you find creative ways to put existing things together. Like when it became obvious to us ALL that it made WAY more sense to combine the personal digital assistant, mp3 player, web browsing, modestly powerful computer, point and shoot camera and mobile phone into one device. Hence the landslide adoption of the smart phone… something now, that most of us find impossible to live without.

For the sake of time let’s skip the debate about the social impact our smartphones are having on the social fabric of our society, families and personal relationships. That small issue aside, these devices are GENIUS!!! Just like combining a bun with a burger, Oreos with ice-cream or and entertainment system to a car, being attune to the opportunity to innovatively finding a solution to a “problem”, usually by improving something that already exists to address it, is what entrepreneurship is all about.

What matters most here is that the problem is real, that there are lots of people with the problem and that your solution is demonstrably different than those currently developed to address that problem.

There are countless books on the topic of innovation and how to develop the perception necessary to identify an unfilled niche. Some of you were born with that innate ability to see those opportunities. However, most of us can train ourselves to become better at it and, with some properly applied analysis, make sure we don’t drink our own cool-aid, or put on our rose colored glasses.

Seeking the truth about our unique solution to the problem, once discovered, is what we’ll discuss next month. Until then, if you feel you’ve discovered gold in “them thar hills”, feel free to come to the UVU Business Resource Center for a reality check. The opinion is free and may save you meaningful time and money on your journey to discovering the business you were born to succeed at.