We all have our ways of dealing with obstacles, and no-one can say for certain what’s the right way.
Business is a world which presents challenges from day one. We all have our ways of dealing with obstacles, and no-one can say for certain what’s the right way. If you want to claim that the people who really get ahead are the ones from Group A, someone from Group B will wave their Platinum Card in your face. Metaphorically, of course. Unless Group B is for “Braggarts.”
But we all know, more or less, which group we fall into. We may be the cautious type, who will not spend money in business without having researched what we’re about to do. There are those who fall into the “high roller” category. They play big, aiming to win big and not bothered by the idea that sometimes they’ll lose big. There are delegators, who know what they can and can’t do. Opposite them, the micromanagers – who keep their fingers in as many pies as possible.
If you have a head for business, you probably have a figurehead as well. An inspiration for what you do. As mentioned, there are people who have made it, and they don’t all fit into one category. And depending on who you take your inspiration from, your path to business success will vary. Will you follow the brash, risk-taking power player, or the analytical polymath?
It may be an attractive idea to go down the first road. There is something of a buzz to being the person who will say “I don’t care!”. Bring me the contract; I’m building where I want to, no matter what the environmental impact report says. So what if no-one has ever made a solid marble elevator? Someone has to be the first! But even those brash trendsetters have to listen to wise counsel initially.
Why Analysis Matters
As many different types of personality as there are, business people tend to follow one of two paths. Those who listen to their brains, and those who go with their gut. And if you’re trying to make your way in the business world, it’s worth remembering one thing. Your brain is an organ whose purpose is thinking, and your gut digests food. While one of these makes thoughts … well, you know what the other makes.
By all means, how you feel about a project should affect some of your thinking. You have to be positive about something to devote yourself to it. But if you ignore facts, you’re not being a maverick, mold-breaking genius. You’re actively hampering your business, and especially in the early days that’s not something you can afford.
Part of the reason that the outside-the-box thinkers can be on TV and give interviews so often is simple. They’ve got other people to do the worrying, the fine-print reading and the hiring and firing. Maybe after you’ve made your first billion, so can you. But early on, you don’t have that freedom.
Why Don’t We Trust Intellectuals?
There is a vast breadth of feeling in society that people who think too much aren’t to be trusted. It’s almost unfashionable these days to admit to being a details person. No, scratch that, it is unfashionable. It can easily be seen in politics, where you can have total command of policy, strategy and problem solving. If you don’t “” with people, you’ll never get a chance to put those skills into play.
Ask around, when you’re talking about politics with people who aren’t completely into politics. Ask why they vote the way they vote. You’ll hear a lot of people saying “he’s a guy like me” or “I can relate to her”. Ask about policy and they’ll say “I don’t get bogged down too much in detail. I want the person who gets things done”.
And while it is certainly important to make people trust you, it doesn’t matter if you can’t get to that level. Big data is reinventing society – we now have access to more and more numbers telling us detailed information. If something unforeseen happens, a bit of analysis will tell us why it happened. We have more statistics to look at, in every area of life. And you need to be in command of those numbers.
Why? What’s Wrong With Trusting Your Instincts?
Look, let’s be clear about one thing. If you only ever trusted numbers and never took risks in business, you’d maybe be moderately successful. It might not be very exciting. You’d have a nice car and a nice home. You can’t do everything by the book from the point where you set out to the point you retire. Not if you want to rise to the top. But you can’t ignore the book completely, either.
As mentioned, those people who do things their way have assistants who do things by the book. And when you’ve got that money in the bank, so can you. Until that time, you need to follow the numbers. If you’ve got a business venture that you think will work, and it’s not hitting the heights you expected, you need to know why. Throwing more money at something that is failing will lead to bigger failure.
There is no longer an excuse for making the mistakes that business owners used to. We now have statistics to reflect everything. And collecting those statistics and referring to them every day is something you need to do early on. Your instincts may make a decision for you, but the numbers tell you if it’s right. And more importantly, they allow you to tweak a decision.
What If I Don’t Want To Be Ruled By Numbers?
You will be, eventually, one way or the other. We’ve always had some element of statistical feedback. Even if it was just “This company posted record profits, this one made a loss”. Now, any business can have access to live statistics that tell them what will happen before it happens. Your competitors will certainly have that access. And they will use it. That’s why you should – and you shouldn’t hesitate about it.
We’re tuned to listen to our instincts. And here’s one instinct we should certainly listen to – the one that says you need to take every advantage you can get. If you were back in the Wild West, would you accept a duel with an armed man, if you weren’t armed yourself? Of course not. So arm yourself with all the data you can lay your hands on.
It’s not exciting, or sexy, or dramatic. It doesn’t make for a section of your autobiography that the papers will want to serialize. But data is out there. The idea that reliance on it makes your business sterile is nonsensical. You can make a decision based on data, but let your instincts guide how you put that decision into practice.
Humanity is neither as basic and instinct-driven as some of the above may suggest, nor as analytical as it maybe should be. We want to have those luxuries, those trappings that we see enjoyed by the super-wealthy. And that’s why we are often influenced by their outward persona.
But on the other hand, we know those billionaires have that lifestyle, because we see it everywhere we look. Now think about this for a moment. Do you think their accountant, their HR director and their PA don’t have mansions and luxury cars? They do. It’s just that they don’t have cameras following them everywhere they go. Would you settle for a luxury lifestyle with a bit of privacy to go with it? We all would. So follow the numbers.