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Re-Cultivating Success

6th, April 2009

The current crises that are now touching everyone in business illustrate that the worst of times inexorably follows the best of times when business is driven by quick profit, double-digit growth or plain greed, rather than by basic principles. There are key questions that everyone in business must ask, and answer, to remind themselves of the basics.

Raised on a two-field Highland Croft in Scotland the questions raised were simple and sequential. It is essential for survival and growth that leadership and management revisit the basics by asking similar sequential questions:

Croft Farming Business Farming Popular Jargon -
1. Choose your field. Why does our company exist?
Mission L
2. Prepare the ground.
What are we about?
Values E
3. Plant at the right time. Where do we want to go? Objectives A
4. Nurture your produce.
What do we have? Strengths D
5. Regular irrigation.
How will we get there?
Strategy E
6. Reap when ripe.
Are our products developed? Marketing R
7. Bring to Consumer.
How well are they received? Revenue S
8. Reward and Thank.
Do we deliver follow through? Service H
9. Save, Invest Profit
How are we going to expand? Results I
10. Inspect Your Field
Is our process working? Manage P

Notice that Manage comes at the bottom of the list. When followed sequentially, you exemplify good Leadership. Regardless of the size of an investment, the basics are constant. And as all forms of speculative investment, which is the most common type that a business is involved in, inherently carries risk, it is even more important that the basics are adhered to. If not, financial folly follows. Currently financial services have been bailed out to the tune of $8.5 trillion – the equivalent of $1,250 for everyone alive today (Oxfam Research).

Just a few years ago the DotCom era witnessed the investment billions of dollars in hollow businesses that neither had the turnover of your local corner shop nor owned the premises. No basics were adhered too. Neither were they when soon after the Telecom Giants lost $4 trillion in a ‘gold-rush’ to outbid each other for valueless licences. Yet, amazingly, even during that unprincipled debacle, which both business and finance institutions promised loudly to learn from, even more volatile seeds were being sown which are now, as we all know, being reaped.

Inevitably finance institutions have started blaming the rise of Entrepreneurship, encouraged by the government, for being part of the problem and consequently restricting lending to those very businesses that are the very seed-corn for our future success. Clearly, entrepreneurial ideas have a greater certainty of being profitable and sustainable when supported by management practices – though such practices are, as is almost daily illustrated, often lacking.

The fact is that executives today must develop entrepreneurial thinking - the same inspirational leadership skills instrumental for the founding and successful growth of their business. Learning and living entrepreneurial principles builds character; and once implemented the practices improve leadership. The nature of developing entrepreneurial leadership involves trust, courage and, importantly, taking responsibility.

Reaping Success
Recreating the characteristics of entrepreneurial leadership revitalises business. It is not reinventing, rather it is rediscovering, redefining and re-implementing those basics that repeatedly ensure future success. Re-visiting the above questions is the most effective way to reassure all stakeholders, re-energize leaders and reap the reward of success, either in ensuring survival through these turbulent times, or sustainable future growth.