I recently sat down with a gentleman named Ed who recently started a hearing-aid business. He has investors, suppliers, and is ready to take his product to market and begin establishing some test data and case studies. He was referred to me through a mutual friend who said, "You need to talk to these guys - they're the experts at helping small businesses grow!"
When Ed and I sat down, he cast for me the vision of what he was hoping to do with his business. He's passionate and is confident that the viability and market-demand of his product means huge success for him and his company. He was also completely confident that he didn't know everything he needed to know about growing his business.
I wrote an article a few weeks ago around coachability. This character trait is, for the most part, a given with entrepreneurs and small business owners. They're smart folks, with a lot of passion, and their driven to achieve success. But they're also willing to take risks, fail fast, and learn from other, smarter people around them.
This is why I love working with startups. When people like Ed come in and say, "This is where I want to be in a year. How can I get there?" I know that we can help them achieve monumental success.
On the other hand, when a new client comes on board saying, "This is exactly what I want you to do. I'm doing it now, and it works," it becomes extremely difficult to make recommendations and develop a partnership that sets both of us up for longterm success.
Whether you're a startup, a small business looking to grow, or an established, growing organization looking to supplement your ongoing business development strategies, it's important to take a step back from what you think you already know and listen to the people around you. Be bold, try new things, take risks and make big bets, and when it fails, be ready to up your ante, jump back in the saddle and keep going (tons of metaphors in there - pick your favorite).