My Business Philosophy

Business & Career advice with Neil Franklin

 I used to be all about winning – I was taught from my first day in sales and at the tender age of nineteen, that “winning was the only thing.”

First is first and second is nothing,” were the words of my first sales manager, my first martial arts instructor and echoed by my first business partner who was obsessed with being the best and beating the competition without any thought as to the “how” part!

Last year, I talked about starting a business and I went through the key areas of sales, mark-eting, cash flow, etc. and this year, I am going to share with you my philosophy that underpins my way of doing business and it’s a philosophy I have developed and refined through my outside interests, as well as operating in business for nearly forty years.

I have built some core principles that really help to structure everything else, and I am going to kick off this year with one of them:

Survival

I have learned how to survive – from going bust early on in my business career, to nearly having it happen again on two occasions, not to mention over-coming the day-to-day challenges of running my own privately funded businesses.

I know that you can never take anything for granted.

Business, just like life, will throw you the odd curveball from time-to-time and on occasion, it will drop a nuclear bomb, but what separates the top companies, regardless of their size, from the rest, is their ability to survive.

Active Survival

Now, I am not against winning at all, but to me, it’s an outcome of doing things the right way…of having the right mindset and being able to “do,” rather than procrastinate…but with speed, precision and keeping the ability to remain agile.

Especially in today’s economy.

My turning point in life came When I went to Moscow to study Russian martial arts, around twenty  years ago. The first principle that was taught to me was to learn how to survive – from any form of attack and from any number of people!

And through survival, you learn to hunt for opportunities, and opportunities are the key to success…and winning.

This was in stark contrast to anything else I learned before, after (at that time) twenty years in martial arts.

Gone were the uniforms, the instructors bark-ing commands and the grading structure that provides the illusion (in my belief) that you have a greater proficiency in the art.

I had seen and heard of many “blackbelts” who could not survive in the streets, and I always wondered why.

In Russia, the training was hard, simple, and very effective – there was a lot of psychology involved and in fact I learned a great deal by simply talking to the special forces soldiers who were happy to do so over a swift Russian mineral water or three, after the physical training sessions.

Very quickly, I could see the application to the business world.

You see, if you don’t try to win, you cannot lose and then the pressure is off – something magical happens when you take this attitude and soon, opportunities present themselves.

And active survival is where you can deal with the challenges that are in front of you, keep your business running, but still focus on the end goal of winning!

Business survival

Many people start businesses with elaborate sales and profit forecasts that they simply have little or no chance of meeting.

This puts endless amounts of pressure on the person and very soon, they are disillusioned by the lack of performance and soon, they are spiraling downwards to a point where there is no chance of recovery.

During the tech bubble in the late 1990s, my finance partner became slightly nervous of the several million dollars they had advanced me and decided to ask for their exposure to be reduced – I could, of course, understand why.

I had a financial advisor who was extremely commercial, having worked for a large public company, who told me the importance of having a “survival cashflow.”

He explained that if you can simply cashflow your business, you can operate and here is where I started to put two and two together with my new-found martial arts principles and stripped the company down to survival mode.

It put us back a few steps from our competitors (what was left of them), but it gave us some breathing space to take stock of what we had, to refine our message to the market and to execute what we did more efficiently.

One of the key elements of being able to surv-ive however, is preparedness.

You must be fit for purpose and in business, it means that you dive deep into each of your bus-iness functions…sales, marketing, technology, finance, risk management, support, etc.

Go through them all with a fine toothcomb – get rid of any excess fat and lean each one out…just like you would if you were seriously committed to that January diet!

Then do as I did and refine your message, take a look at what you are really selling to your cust-omers and make it the best it can be.

From your new “survival” sales forecasts, you will see a tremendous opportunity to grow, because you know you can do a lot more and that is where your confidence will increase.

Confidence is the key to excellence and excel-lence the key to greatness!

Finally, never accept the status quo.

I never stand still…I am always questioning, challenging, and pushing through boundaries in life…and business.

You should too.

Next month I will talk about another core principle and that is predictive modelling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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