As St. Patrick’s day approaches, I look forward to all the fun that follows. Green beer, green hair, green clothes and I’ve no doubt that someone, somewhere will be serving green eggs and ham. Best of all, we can hope for some of the luck of the Irish; perhaps a stray four leaf clover. But the truth is, if you are running a business or thinking about running a business in Ottawa, Ontario or anywhere in Canada, you’ve already accessed a fair bit of luck. If you weren’t born here, then you have been lucky enough to make your way to one of the best countries in the world, not to mention living in Ottawa, one of the best cities in the world to live.
There’s no question that luck plays a role in how you access available benefits, but location, place of birth and time of birth aside, if you’re waiting for luck to resolve your business challenges then chances are you won’t be in business for long. As much as entrepreneurial activity brings you freedom, it also requires lots of hard work and the ability to spot an opportunity or make the best of bad outcomes.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell posits that it takes working at something for 10,000 hours before reaching expertise. What that breaks down to is that you will have to be in business for five years before you’ll have nailed the complexities of your own business. That, of course, presumes that the business, customers and the market remain static and unchanging during that period. Right. When was the last time a market remained static? The beauty and terror of globalization are that the movement of ideas is effortless. It’s no longer enough to figure out one way of doing things, you need to adopt a continuous improvement mindset. This isn’t about being dissatisfied, it’s about always staying open to new possibilities and new ways of doing things. In this way, you can avoid being blindsided by disruptive technologies. In fact, if anything, you are more likely to bring about the disruptive technology.
Tips for building luck:
Be open to new ideas: This involves deep listening. It’s not enough to pay lip service to new ideas. You have to really look at the possibilities, weigh the pros and cons and determine what would happen to the business if someone perfected the idea and entered your market.
Have a positive mindset: This is not about becoming a Pollyanna, but it is about taking a few lessons from an optimistic view of the world. Very few problems are resolved by wringing your hands and crying over the unfairness of things. You will feel better and are more likely to resolve challenges when you are in a positive frame of mind.
Learn resilience: When a block occurs take it as a learning opportunity. Every time you overcome a barrier you become better at it.
Embrace change: Change is always happening. It is inevitable and non-negotiable. Rather than fight it, embrace it. Look for the opportunities that come with change and take advantage of what they offer.
Use determination and focus: Nothing brings you luck like digging in and working hard. Build your vision, create a plan for achieving it, identify the opportunities and go after them.
This is about making your own luck; then when you succeed you can smile as people call you lucky.