"What is your personal vision for yourself and your company?" I always ask this when an entrepreneur inquires about growth strategies for their business. It tells me about their motivation and what they want to accomplish with their company.
In business, there is always pressure to grow. We've all heard the expression, "If you're not outrunning your competition, you'll get run over." While I agree with this statement, I also know the pace at which individual entrepreneurs wish to grow their company varies greatly, and there is no right or wrong answer. But an entrepreneur's personal vision tells me a lot about their motivation to grow their business.
Over the years, I have met with countless business owners who feel pressure to grow to the next level, but don't know where to start. I always say the same thing: "It starts with really wanting it." Achieving success is difficult, and intense motivation is a required ingredient in any success story. Without intense motivation, an entrepreneur can never maintain the mindset, determination and commitment necessary to lead themselves and their team to the next level of success.
To illustrate, Peter Schutz, former CEO of Porsche AG and author of The Driving Force; Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People, was charged with turning Porsche around in the 1980s. When Schutz took over as CEO in 1981, Porsche was getting ready to enter two Porsche 924-turbos in the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour race. At a planning meeting, Schutz asked his racing team what their chances of winning the race were. To his astonishment, they said there was absolutely no chance of winning with the cars they had.
Now, Schutz knew the situation at the company was dismal, but he had no idea how bad it really was. Obviously, the racing team was depressed and had lost both its inspiration and drive to succeed. As a result, this defeatist mindset had infected the entire company. He realized in that moment that, to turn the company around, he had to restore the dreams of the people working there. Schutz knew that, as a manufacturer of one of the world's top sports car brands, Porsche's turnaround had to start where the company's soul lived—on the racing circuit.
Schutz thought about his racing team's dismal response for about ten seconds, then replied, "Let me explain something: As long as I am in charge of this company, we will never go to any race without the objective of winning."
This statement both shocked and inspired the racing team. Schutz charged the team with accomplishing a monumental task: to win Le Mans, which was scheduled to take place in just 62 days. That spring, the team took two Porsche 936s out of retirement, retrofitted them with engines and parts from other cars and entered the race. To their astonishment, one of the 936s won! From that moment on, it became very clear to everyone in the company that Porsche was heading in a new direction. There was a revived spirit of enthusiasm and determination to succeed in everything the company undertook. Schutz had instilled the motivation, the mindset and the commitment to win the company so desperately needed.
The following year, the racing team developed a new racecar, the Porsche 956. They entered the Le Mans 24-hour race with three new untried cars and a renewed commitment to win, and to the amazement of the entire racing world, Porsche took first, second and third place.
Schutz and the entire team at Porsche were able to accomplish a turnaround in the racing team, and, ultimately, at the company, because they had the motivation and the willingness to do what it took to succeed. Schutz enabled the company to look into the future and create a dream they could work toward as a company. With a clear vision, he instilled new motivation that led to their success.
So, when I speak with small business owners about their aspirations to grow their companies, I always say the same thing: "It starts with really wanting it."
Peter Schutz wanted to grow Porsche to become the world leader in performance cars, and it started with changing the racing team's losing mindset about the Le Mans race and making a commitment to win.
If you can identify your dream, are motivated by it and are willing to do what it takes to succeed, only then can you create a plan for achieving the growth you desire.
Andy Buyting understands what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, having owned several businesses during his career. Developer of the Hiring Right Recruiting System and a Certified Gazelles International Business Coach, he provides strategic direction and growth tools for companies looking to go from good to great.