Some 12 years ago events piqued my curiosity on the economy. Since then I’ve become deeply interested in economic trends, systems-analysis of economic issues, economic numbers, and solutions. It is my personal belief that Canada needs to create at least 2.5 million net new jobs to begin to (re)experience prosperity. It is my belief that the majority of these jobs need to be export related. I’m happy to go over with you how I reached that number – just ask me. Really –go on, just ask me.
Over the past few years I’ve been engaging entrepreneurs and business owners -- and pretty much anyone who will listen -- on economic matters. I mentioned the soft economy. Job growth is often not as strong as wanted or needed. Profits and margins are low. I noted weak productivity increase and slow innovation. There were other trends that I mentioned. Cold hard reality facts.
One of the participants suggested that I was too negative. That I shouldn’t mention to entrepreneurs and business owners how weak the current economy is, that I shouldn’t mention how stuck many companies are and how stagnant current efforts at business innovation are. In good faith and with sincerity, the participant suggested that this perspective would shake business confidence, demotivate participants from being creative and generally be a downer.
I thought about it. And then I came to the realisation that until someone recognises the cold hard facts as they are, nothing will change. The alcoholic will not seek rehabilitation until they chose to. In drunken stupors all will seem fine because the haze is considered normal. They chose to seek support to become sober when they know and understand they have a problem they can’t fix on their own. The athlete will not seek a professional coach until they realise that their practices and methods will only get them so far in the competitive leagues. If they are sincere in advancing their performance, then will seek out professional athletic coaches.
I think the same is true for entrepreneurs and businesses. When entrepreneurs and businesses come to grips with the harsh numbers of today’s economy, the sagging productivity, the stiffness of competition, the painfully low margins, the rising of barriers to access to resources and networks, then and only then will they be motivated to think up new solutions and implement them. First admit there is a problem. Second come to terms with the problem (it won’t go away on its own). Then thirdly, start working on the problem’s solution.
Bottom line: face the brutal economic reality for what it is – take a moment to gather strength and courage, and then press forward boldly and innovatively.
PS: Thank you Jen for helping me find my voice in expressing the sober yet opportunity-laden impressions of business.
Self-awareness is the ability to be introspective, to identify one’s thoughts and emotions. It’s a skill that can be practiced and improved. Self-awareness is often underdeveloped in entrepreneurs but is critical to their success.
Entrepreneurs face many challenges and obstacles. By increasing their self-awareness entrepreneurs can select better courses of action. Consider the following examples:
Sofia started her business about 5 years ago. She’s taken workshops, webinars, and hired coaches on how to market her business. For all of her efforts, she remains stuck. She has some sales but her business isn’t developing the way she wants it to. She's working longer hours, attending more networking events, putting more effort into sales. But nothing is improving.
Olivier’s tried selling to one demographic for over a year. He’s tried several approaches without much success. As Olivier works on his self-awareness, he starts to realise that he’s not entirely comfortable in his target demographic. He’s trying to sell to them because that’s what he thought he had to do. Olivier stopped his efforts and reflected. He realised that his product would better serve another market, one that he was less familiar with. He would have to change his marketing and his approach but they would likely be more receptive.
For all of their similarities, Sofia and Oliver are different in one key aspect: Olivier is much more aware of how he is interacting with his environment. It’s this awareness that allows him to select more appropriate courses of action. A better learner turns into a stronger entrepreneur.
Have you had any ah-ha moments where self-knowledge changed the way you approached a situation? Feel free to share.
Allo there ~ I'm Renée and this is my blog on leadership and business development. Here I explore the nexus between leadership, conflict resolution, networks, innovation and prosperity.