Everyone needs a wake-up call once in a while.
Sometimes these wake-up calls can come from unexpected places, and sometimes they can come from the obvious-if we have the wherewithal to be paying attention.
Unfortunately, we're often oblivious to the obvious. How about you? How many ways do you find to avoid the obvious?
One thing that should be obvious is that the product or service you offer customers is not your real product-your business is your product.
Like Starbucks is. Or McDonald's. Or Apple. Or Walmart.
Your business is your only true product, the manifestation of an entrepreneurial vision, producing a transformative result in a sea of mediocrity and status quo.
The sad fact is that too few start-ups ever achieve this goal. So what happens? How do so many entrepreneurs get pulled off course and end up slogging around in the muck and mire with everyone else?
Even the best of the best can be vulnerable.
Case in point is Howard Schultz, the CEO and founder of Starbucks, whose coffee I'm also drinking as I write this missive to you.
Mr. Schultz has written a book, which is as entertaining (and potentially enlightening) as his coffee is dependably stimulating every morning. I suggest you read it. It's the story about how Mr. Schultz went back into Starbucks to address what was missing-and how he did it.
His story is a perfect example of how asleep an entrepreneur can get when everything that's going on in the world gets screwed up and screws up the company in the process.
It's also a perfect reminder of how many ways there are to avoid the obvious.
The #1 obvious, most-ignored lesson is this: An entrepreneur-a true entrepreneur-doesn't do anything other than work ON his or her company, because working IN it won't produce anything other than the status quo.
Let me repeat: Working IN your business, which is what most people do, won't get you anything but what you already have. Working ON your business is the only way forward.
It reminds me of an email I received from a young business owner. He wrote, "Mr. Gerber, how can I do the entrepreneurial work you are constantly telling me I need to do, when everything my business is telling me is different?"
Great question, isn't it? He believes that his business is telling him one thing, and I'm telling him exactly the opposite. What a predicament!
The fact is actually quite different. The fact is that this young business owner, like most business owners, is confused because he is only able to hear half of what his business is trying to tell him. He hears the half that is telling him what needs to be done today, the fires that need to be put out, because he is surrounded by technicians who think like technicians and are concerned with the technical demands of what is happening now.
At the same time, he is avoiding the obvious. He can't hear the part of the business that is crying out for what needs to change, what needs to improve, what needs to be done to grow and build the brand that is his company. He has no other entrepreneurial voices to remind him to work ON his business-other than his own, and mine.
Which is why I'm telling him (and you) this: Until he persists-every single day!-in working ON his business, rather than IN it-as Howard Schultz reminds us in his book, which is the great lesson he learned from his Starbucks business-this young business will never improve or produce anything more than what it's producing today.
The truth is that neither of them was responding to what their business was telling them; they were responding to what their own mindset was telling them.
For Mr. Schultz, it was the Entrepreneur he had allowed to go to sleep. For our young business owner, it was the Technician who wouldn't let him go to sleep-there was so much work to do!
So stop listening to your inner Technician at the expense of your inner Entrepreneur.
Wake up that Entrepreneur inside of you. Listen to your inner Entrepreneur who is telling you to go to work ON your business. Stop listening to your Technician who wants to keep you in your comfort zone of working IN your business (because your Technician doesn't know how to do anything other than that).
Stop avoiding the obvious: Your business needs a wake-up call. Just like STARBUCKS did!
And that wake-up call can only come from you, from the entrepreneur within you. The one who truly understands what Howard Schultz understands only too well: that the lifeblood of every great company is the heightened imagination of its leader.