“To succeed in business you need to work harder than anyone else.”
This is the advice you often hear from those who have attained entrepreneurial success. Success, they say, comes only to those who work, work and work some more to reach their goals.
However, you need not work so hard to achieve your dream. According to Robert J. Kriegel, author of the book “How to Succeed in Business Without Working So Damn Hard: Rethinking the Rules, Reinventing the Game,” this strategy of working harder-and-longer is not the only way to achieve your goals; in fact, it can even be detrimental for you. The key to success is working smarter, not harder.
While working harder works, the stress resulting from this strategy is enormous no matter how tough you think you are. It creates stress and limits the quality of life. Worse, this work style also hinders performance, productivity and creativity. The “run, run, rush, rush, race, race” is a great strategy “for not having a life,” according to the new book.
Dr. Kriegel in his book suggests some innovative strategies to help you succeed beyond what you thought possible without working so hard. Below are some of them:
1. Rushing slows you down.
The obsession with speed is one of the causes of working too hard: speed to grow the business, speed to go to market, etc. In the process, you tend to rush things, and rushing slows you down. Why? Because you are more prone to make mistakes. You do things before you had the chance to think them through. You tend to make decisions too quickly. As a result, the mistakes require you to do things over again.
According to Dr. Kriegel, “real progress come from innovation” and innovation doesn’t come from rushing. Innovation requires time for incubation.
2. Think like a beginner.
The author says that “learning to think like a beginner is one of the most effective ways to reinvent your game.” Adopting a beginner’s mindset allows you to spot new opportunities: you are ready and open for anything. You understand that there are myriad opportunities out there for you. As a beginner, you are not attached to how things are done or have preconceived notions about any situation. You are more eager to try out new things, and more importantly, you have the curiosity that is crucial for innovation.
The author suggests that you question everything, be curious and listen down. Sometimes the greatest ideas and opportunities are right in front of you, but experience may have blinded you to them. Wipe the slate clean and look at your business with a fresh set of eyes.
3. Flip the rules.
Innovation, they say, comes from thinking out of the box. What does “out of the box” mean? To get out of the box, you need to “take a problem, assumption, or strategy and flip it 180 degrees.” This entails thinking creatively outside the safe confines of the established parameters of your business or industry. List the basic components, elements or rules of your business. Then give each a flip. If everyone is doing it one way, consider doing the opposite.
Peter Brown, a San Francisco chef started his Foursquare Catering business. However, he had trouble attracting clients. His strategy was to invite prospective clients for a lunch at his place to sample his specialties. This was the same strategy employed by his competitors. However, hardly anyone comes. No one wants to take time out from his or her busy schedules to go to his place for lunch.
He then decided to change his strategy: instead of clients coming over to his place, he went to his clients and offered them a special lunch at their office. No one refused him, and his business grew tremendously! Giving his strategy a flip allowed Brown to launch a hugely successful business.
4. Don’t compete; change the game.
Dr. Kriegel writes that the key to gaining a competitive edge is “to use your head to get ahead.” You need not play by the same rules and assumptions as your business competitors. Those who succeed in business do not necessarily aim to play on a level playing field; rather they make sure to tilt it in their direction.
How? You reinvent what you do. You innovate, and not play catch-up by constantly imitating the leader. You create new markets and reinvent new ones. Reinventing also means teaming up with other companies and entering into strategic alliances with others. Remember, just because you are small, you don’t have to think small.
5. Bulking up the little guys.
With the right strategy, small companies can compete with the big guys. Price competition, or lowering the price, however is not the way to go. Small businesses can never win out in a price war, given that big companies can buy in huge quantities and pay less for their products.
Instead, small businesses can win out by exploiting their natural advantage: speed and innovation. A small company can more quickly put into action a new idea. For a big business, however, different layers of bureaucracy must approve a new idea and this takes time. Small businesses can also thrive by offering personal services and creating warm environment that larger companies are not equipped to provide.
The key for a small business to survive and succeed is to avoid going head-to-head with the Goliaths. Competing with the big boys is a losing battle. Instead, the author suggests that you “differentiate yourself from these companies.” You need to offer customers something that they are not getting from your large competitors.
These are but some of the excellent suggestions found in Dr. Kriegel’s new book. By incorporating the recommendations outlined in the book, you can have more breathing space and less stress in your work. In fact, you can begin to enjoy work – and life – again.