Thinking Long Term. Always.
For many entrepreneurs owning and running a business is a labor of love borne of a passion for the impact a product or service can have on the world. And in every case, it’s always easier said than done.
Beside the fact that many SME owners embark on their entrepreneurial journeys without a formal academic or professional background in the area of business management, getting a market or target audience to not only listen to but understand what all the passion is about is no easy task.
This is why it’s critical to strive for the best and be prepared for the worst, and more importantly, to remember that growing a business is not a sprint but a marathon. These sound like sayings you can apply to just about anything to sound optimistic, right? Maybe, but there are also many practical benefits to gain from adopting these outlooks.
Take a recent McKinsey report for example, which provides systematic evidence that a long-term approach to business can lead to superior performance for revenue and earnings, investment, market capitalization, and job creation. Though the study collects and analyzes data primarily from larger companies – which might have an advantage over SMEs thanks to greater expertise and capital when first starting out – it does reinforce the idea that sprinting has its limits and that long-term growth belongs to companies that can take a step back and focus on the bigger picture.
What does this mean for the passion fueling so many budding SMEs? They should likely continue to focus on their visions and keep moving forward in terms of what they want to be as companies and what kind of impacts they seek to have on the market and their customers.
Matthew Toren, a contributor to entrepreneur.com, supports this line of reasoning, and even takes it a step further in his list of seven myths about starting a business he used to believe. Among the myths he lists are you have to know what you’re doing, you have to have a lot of money to start and you have to do it all.
The last point is of particular importance, seeing as there are many companies out there that can provide one-time or ongoing support to both help a small or medium-sized business get and stay on track, and save it from hiring staff who aren’t essential to getting the businesses off the ground (Toren’s fourth myth, by the way, is you have to hire staff).
When it comes to passion as a driving force in the success of a business, and keeping an eye on a long-term approach to growth, the marathon-runner can afford to fail in ways that the sprinter just can’t. Business Insider’s list of six strategies great leaders use for long-term success makes sure to point out that great business people aren’t afraid to experiment and can take failure and turn it into opportunity.
They use Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s example of her father always asking her, “What have you failed at this week?” The question taught her that failure is more about not trying than it is about a bad outcome resulting from following her passion.
The sprinter cannot afford to make a mistake because the race is too short, but the marathon runner can actually use their mistakes to improve their strategy as the race progresses, and can also use the sense of awareness that long-term thinking encourages to identify the mistakes of others, and learn from those ones too. Without a doubt, fear of failure is an obstacle that each of us will either overcome or succumb to.
Though passion is often regarded as one of the essential ingredients to propelling a business forward, it won’t do much more than spin that business’ wheels without proper support and direction.
Business leaders taking a long-term approach to growth need to anticipate and react to markets while being adept at thinking outside the box and making the most of what they have at their disposal to become innovators. Nowadays, what all of us have at our disposal is access to great thinkers who inspire innovative approaches to business and paths to success that seemingly turn tried and true business models upside down.
One of these thinkers is Dr. Philip Kotler, author of the renowned Marketing 3.0 considered by most as the international marketing professor. Kotler sees marketing effectiveness as the difference between unstable short-term success and stable long-term growth. So even though his approach to marketing is relatively groundbreaking, it still happens in the context of the marathon and not the sprint.
Kotler regards marketing as an area of expertise that is terribly misunderstood in business circles and in the public’s mind. He maintains that, “Companies think that marketing exists to support manufacturing, to get rid of the company’s products. The truth is the reverse, that manufacturing exists to support marketing. The company can always outsource its manufacturing. What makes a company is its marketing offerings and ideas.”
So if an SME owner believes to have game-changing products or services but still hasn’t convinced potential customer to share in this vision, it might not necessarily be time to go back to the drawing board, but rather time to think about how their offerings and ideas are being conveyed and communicated to potential customers.
Furthermore, effective marketing not only allows offerings and ideas to be shared, it provides a company with a path towards future innovations and ultimately, long-term growth and profitability.
Given the value effective marketing can bring to a business, getting support in this area can prove critical in establishing and maintaining a long-term competitive advantage. Brite helps customers develop effective marketing strategies to ensure that ideas and offerings are readily available and accessible to new and existing customers. If you’re interested in how Brite can support your business’ stable long-term growth through effective marketing, feel free to contact us to set up a free consultation.