Random elements; another thing that makes entrepreneurship so fun
I’m a strategy guy (whatever that means!) and whilst I love devising, testing and improving strategies, I’ve learnt over the years that even with the best strategic planning you can never be 100% certain of the specific outcomes a good strategy will lead to.
Sure, you can have strong expectations of the direction your strategy will take you but you’ll never be able to map out the exact magnitude or specific things that will happen (e.g. you can be fairly confident that a particular strategy will lead to an increase in revenues for your business but you won’t be able to predict exactly how much revenue you may make or where it will specifically come from).
A fantastic example of this was when I set up my company, I analytically identified the top 10 people that I thought would be a conduit for work (a fantastic piece of analysis that involved assessing the strength of relationship, level of financial decision making and potential business need of each of my contacts). As it turned out, of my first 10 clients, only 1 was from this list (who was to know??).
What’s more, my very first client was thanks to a random contact who I had worked with almost 10 years prior and was nowhere close on my radar when designing my prospective clients’ list.
Not only will you not be able to predict the specifics but you also need to prepare yourself for the random events that will come up. Some may directly test your strategy (like Covid) whilst others may neither add nor detract from your strategy but present an opportunity for you to take or ignore; it is the latter group that I have been most fascinated with ever since I set up my own business - I call these the random elements and I definitely have learnt to enjoy them.
When I was working in the corporate world, I might not be so aware of these random elements or had quite so many cross my path, but as a start-up founder I find them everywhere.
What exactly am I talking about? Well, thanks to the random elements, in the last 2 years alone, among other things, I’ve found myself ending up:
- helping a friend write a book
- doing live radio shows and podcasts
- writing a weekly blog that has subscribers
- being invited to give talks to thousands of students
- being invited to be a tutor at a university
- being invited to take part in an advertising campaign for a company
- handing over cheques and cutting ribbons at charity events
- meeting royalty
The thing about random elements is that you have to create an environment and a mentality so that they find you. When I was in the corporate world, I was so preoccupied with other worries that ‘I didn’t lift my head up’ enough to see them and even when I did, I didn't have enough energy to be creative enough to see the potential benefits of each random element and how it might add to my own strategy (rather than be afraid of them).
There are still times that I’m not in the right frame of mind to spot all these random elements but I have now learnt to actively seek them out and I encourage you all to do the same. I definitely believe that with the right mindset you can attract more random elements your way.
My one caveat is that you should not lose sight of your own strategy (where you started in the first place); it can be every easy to lose yourself to random elements and before you know it your own strategy is at risk - bit’s when you’re spending more time on the random elements than on the day job.
Focus is always important (it’s one of the central tenants of the work that we do with companies at Shiageto), so I keep referring back to what my current strategy is and I assess the impact my current random elements are having on that. By looking at the facts (i.e. how much time they are taking up and how much benefit they bring) I make decisions whether to continue with them or not. It can be tough, particularly when they are so fun but may not add any value, but in the long run it’s ok because I am fairly certain more random elements will be just around the corner.
I wish good random elements for you all and would love to hear where yours take you…
Faris is the CEO and Founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative consultancy that helps firms and individuals sharpen their effectiveness.
Success = IQ x EQ x FQ