2018, the year of…

Before I even get to that, what was 2017 the year of for you?

Me, I blog about the things I see and the conversations I have with entrepreneurs and business owners, and when I look back at some of the themes I covered in 2017… well… there’s an undeniable vibe – with ResilienceDeceptionRejectionLimboSelf-doubtFatigue, our very popular 2-parter on VUCA … oh my gosh the list goes on and on!

Certainly I think much of this general malaise, this shared feeling of ‘meh’, has originated from outside factors. Between all the political squabbling, EU wrangling, and economic underperformance, we’ve had no shortage of reasons to be nervous and to defer our decision-making. But there is an internal/mindset issue too. After all, what are we meant to do? Just hang in limbo indefinitely waiting for factors outside our control to resolve themselves? Will they ever?

For many decision makers, conditions have been imperfect for so long, it’s coming full circle, creating an air of impatience and pent up momentum. A recognition that it may never be the perfect time (it might only rarely even be an okay time). There will always be external or personal factors that create instability or uncertainty. Abnormal is the new normal. As the other Agent K (Men In Black 1997), puts it, “There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet.”

So, perhaps, there is a time when despite the lousy external conditions, negative headlines and ‘weak business confidence’ surveys spouted by the popular media, you instead draw on your internal strength and resolve, and say “It is time”. You accept the fluid nature of things and learn to ride the waves. You back yourself, make a judgement call and make your decisions the right decisions and make now the right time.

How do you do this?

  1. Accept the reality of things – that the environment in which you built, run and ultimately intend to grow your business, is and always will be, in a state of flux. In fact, it’s the moments of calm that are the exceptions. If you accept this view of the world then are you sure you want to be launching anything new when conditions are outside the norm?
  2. Take charge of your own destiny. Yes, it’s daunting to venture beyond your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done before, but if you always wait for the stars to align before acting, then you will always be reactive, not quite in full control, and subject to the volatility of others for your success and progress. Conversely, by embracing the uncertainty and taking the lead yourself, maybe you can be the one making the rules and creating the optimal conditions (plus steal a march on your cowardly competitors!).
  3. Build feedback, learning, and flexibility into EVERYTHING! Write your plans with built-in feedback loops, agree your supplier contracts with variation and exit clauses, take on new contractors with variable hours options…

What we do – what all of us entrepreneurs do – is ultimately about action. Without action, we’re no different from anyone anywhere who’s had an idea to escape the rat race but done nothing about it.

So perversely, while it may be that it’s never a perfect time, I wonder if perhaps it’s also always a good time?

If 2017 was the year of ‘meh’, can you make 2018 the year of decision, the year of mobilisation, the year of progress and the year of results?

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