(This article originally appeared in Business2Business, a business magazine for Banbury, Buckingham and Bicester)
According to the International Olympic Committee, seven values will underpin the 2012 Olympic Games: excellence, respect, courage, inspiration, determination, equality and friendship. These are not just sporting values. they can equally apply to business as well. The more you think about them the more you realise that they have immense relevance in the commercial world of today. We’re kicking off this series with Inspiration.
Within every successful athlete there is a well of inspiration, and behind every successful business there is an inspirational idea or motive. When I was writing my book about entrepreneurs in the 1980s (Secrets of Success: what you ca n learn from Britain’s entrepreneurs), I found that the more inspired the business owners were the more likely they were to succeed. Those who set up their own company principally in order to have their own business but without some inspirational idea behind it or those who set up solely in order to have a higher income were not always as successful as those who were motivated by some inspiring dream. Obviously a knowledge of their markets played a big role in both scenarios, but those who were driven by an inspirational concept tended to find their feet more assuredly. They were more motivated, and they were more able to survive early difficulties.
What I’ve also learnt from talking to successful business leaders is that they are not only inspired, they are also inspirational. That, for me, is a key element in business success. It is what really distinguishes a great business owner from an average one. If you can be inspirational it will pay you dividends. You will be amazed. This is something that so many business leaders overlook, yet it is so simple. Let me explain.
If you are inspirational with your colleagues and inspire them to do their best, then you will really drive your business forward. They will be fired up to do more than they thought they could, and maybe even more than you expected. If you are inspirational with your suppliers then they will understand your needs better, and you are much more likely to have your requirements met exactly as you want.
You need to be inspirational with your clients and potential customers. They need to see just what a difference you can make to them. All too often we assume that this will be obvious. We know our own business so well that we take what we do for granted. I know I do this a lot.. But your clients will never know everything about you, and they will never completely take on board how you can help them with their specific needs unless you tell them, and then inspire them with the results that you can produce for them.
Another thought: surround yourself with people who inspire you. I have rarely met a successful business person who has not had an inspiring mentor. In fact, they usually have had several, and they make sure that they keep in touch with one or two people who help them to stay focused on their goals and reach them.
So who is going to inspire you? How will you inspire others?