One Step Beyond

You may faintly remember it or perhaps you’ve seen the re-runs: One Step Beyond.

It was that old science fiction TV series where the implausible became the possible, right there in your living room. Supposedly the stories were based on fact. I don’t know if they were or not, but it made the show more fun to believe the stories were true. The host John Newland, would give you some spiel about ESP, teleportation, automatic writing, bi-location or some other questionable science and launch into another “true story.”I remember one episode in vivid detail. A woman keeps having dreams of a plane crashing through the ceiling. Overcome with fear, she and her husband move into a hotel – and once settled there a plane crashes through the ceiling of the hotel. But the pilot is saved and the couple gets out of the way when they hear the plane coming in.Today that episode sounds a little too much like reality.But it made me think about how we as entrepreneurs and small business owners can become fearful of the INEVITABLE. At times we fear the inevitable so deeply that we find ourselves rushing headlong into the very thing we’ve been trying to avoid! The women’s dream created an irrational fear that prompted her to leave her home for a place of safety only to find that it was her fear that placed her in the most dangerous situation.Business circumstances can be like that. We try to escape the inevitable conditions of a difficult economy, fierce competition, the dot-com implosion or a maturing product lifecycle by running from them rather than facing them head-on.I have seen more than one example of otherwise talented and energetic individuals paralyzed by fear. They procrastinate or even completely avoid taking on projects that would benefit them and their company. Their inevitable excuse: “I am dealing with too many problems right now; I know I (we) should do this but I can’t deal with it with everything else that is going on.” This is classic conflict avoidance. Avoiding conflict will only serve to produce more devastating symptoms and ultimately end in disappointment or worse.

There are many people in business today that have never been tested by an economic downturn. They have little experience with difficult times. It is easy to succeed when times are good. What differentiates the experienced business owner from the naive is doing what must be done when times are tough. Successful decision-makers redouble their efforts to outpace the pack when it is most difficult. They are willing to go “One Step Beyond.”Here are some pointers to help you go “one step beyond” in your own business. Are they easy to implement? No, but they are powerfully effective when combined with persistence, enthusiasm and sweat:No Risk, No Reward – Playing it safe isn’t necessarily playing it smart – even in cautious times. Don’t be Afraid of Risk. To not take a risk is to risk being ignored.Plan to be a Lot Better – You can’t win in a competitive market by doing things “a little” better than the competition. You have to be a lot better or completely different.Stand Out from the Crowd – You can’t simply sound like everyone else. You MUST be unique. How can you change your process? What additional service can you provide?Zero In – Who can you exclusively target? What part of the marketplace is most precisely suited to your product or service? Or maybe, more importantly, which type of prospects do you NOT want as customers? Sometimes it’s easier to eliminate the chaff from the wheat.Don’t Be Afraid to Take Action – Remember the good moves you DON’T make can be as consequential as the bad moves you DO make. For many business leaders inaction is the worse course of action.Get Emotional – Emotion grabs attention and ultimately sells your product or service. Tell your story in such a way that your product or services becomes totally relevant with your customers lives.Do the Unexpected – Remember while you’re sitting with your staff trying to think of what to do next so is your competition. If you can make an unexpected move then you may have the most important element of success: SURPRISE.Cultivate a Culture of Learning – The fastest way to failure is to stop learning. Make learning a habit for yourself and for the people in your organization.Seek to Create Change – Many consultants and business pundits today are advocating all kinds of methods of “coping with change.” I wholeheartedly disagree. This makes it sound like change is biting at our heels. Put yourself in a position to CREATE change. There is an amazing advantage in being the creator of change rather than the one who has to cope with it.You may be hearing that buzzing of a plane in the distance. It could be your competition or the economy or even the groans of an industry in travail. But don’t turn and run. Face your foe head on with confidence and self-assurance. In doing so you will fuel growth and profitability in your business. By embracing change you will crush fear and go “one step beyond.”

Posted in Managing Change, Uncategorized.

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