As you create and manage your business, balancing your expectations is critical to success. It’s never been more important than ever to learn how expectations affect success.
Recent events will illustrate the importance and differences in expectations.
For example, Forbes magazine reported that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is now worth $ 40 billion. Would anyone have “expected” that to happen? To a weird college kid with practically no capital and no revenue a few years ago?
And, take the recent presidential debates that featured 17 candidates who all thought they had an edge with exaggerated expectations. What happened at the end of the day was wasted time and energy, and stress to the listener.
On one hand, you must maintain your enthusiasm, confidence, and belief that you will succeed. You don’t want to even entertain the notion of failing, because it will affect your confidence level and those around you.
It opens up the door to doubt, which can detour creative energies (really, who wants to do business with someone who is carries an air of failure?). Rather, believe that the glass is always half full, rather than half empty. With the real potential for a deluge.
Keep in mind, however, the challenges, barriers, and realities of your efforts. Remember that new programs, initiatives, and product launches will take more time, money, and effort than you imagine. So, add in additional back-up time, should you need it. By doing so, it doesn’t mean you’re “expecting” failure, or that there’s a flaw in your plan, it’s being “business responsible.”
In addition, because the market changes, and your customers’ lifestyles change by the nano-second, you need to be able to pivot along with it. By “expecting” that your market can change from year to year, you are being proactive in your thinking, and can create flexible plans to adapt in these changes.
Here are four tools to create a beautiful balance in your “expectations”:
1. Beware of confirmation bias
Don’t we always belief our ideas are terrific, and thus, focus more on their wonderfulness and potential for success? Of course we do. The challenges are sometimes given a smaller amount of our attention, and downplayed. It’s just human nature. We bias our analysis towards successes and positives, and tend to ignore negatives. One business that has benefited greatly from this concept is the casino business.
An example of an unbalanced concept of expectations is when a business owner says, “We have no competition.” Believing that there is no one else out there doing what you do is doomed thinking. After all, how were they getting it done before your business entered the market? Every business has a competitor of some sort. Even if it’s simply competing for the time and money of your customer.
Take the time to research and consider alternative solutions and analysis. Consider what could go wrong, what mistakes could occur and have contingency plans for delays or changes in results.
2. Develop, test, measure, and adapt
Many plans, forecasts, and proposals are done in a static format with one dimensional analysis and results. Usually, they’re all wrong, because we live in a more dynamic and interactive world. For example, branding, marketing, pricing, and operations all must be viewed as an integrated program, rather than separate and isolated activities. Similarly, businesses need to have alternatives at the ready, and the processes in place to adapt. Mistakes will occur. But, remember, Steve Jobs got fired, and Tom Edison tested thousands of light bulbs before succeeding.
3. Understand your goals
Understand your goals, resources, and risk. In particular, really understand your market analysis, competition, how and why your company is different, and why customers should care. Are you focused on long term growth, or quick profits?
Marketing programs vary in cost and impact. In general, paid search can have immediate results, while social media is more long term and branding-orientated. While testing alternatives is a great strategy, ensure that you are focused on priorities that you can execute and that will have the most potential.
4. When and how will you be profitable?
Only about 10% of startups and small businesses succeed and survive to their fifth year. The ones who did survive developed flexible models to measure and then compared alternatives.
Consider the following:
- Do you have the expertise and excellence to support and justify your programs?
- Do you have the resources to survive the “slower than expected” startup, or, on the other hand, are you ready to pounce when the business needs to expand?
No matter the size of your business, understand the risk and uncertainty of your decisions. It has been shown that successful startups had a healthy balance of excitement, an understanding of the risks they were taking, and had a backup plan when an unexpected turn developed.
I have learned that traditional, and detailed, startup recommendations like planning and budgeting, are not as important as previously thought. Rather, the process needs to be continuous to analyze, measure, and adapt to changing parameters, programs, markets, and risks.
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