Jul 14, 2010

I don’t know how to make money, but I’m having fun learning

So much of a person’s success is shaped by attitude. It’s your outlook that propels you to greater-and-greater heights.

I had lunch with my friend Steve last week. During the conversation he said, “I don’t how to make money, but I’m sure having fun learning how to.” I thought his statement was pretty incredulous when I heard it. By all accounts Steve makes good money. He has a successful business, professional staff, a nice lifestyle and he can afford all the toys he wants. But by his personal measuring stick he hasn’t figured it out yet.

Every company is struggling with the next level

As I digested Steve’s comment I realized he is absolutely right. Every company is struggling to get to the next level.

There are predictable plateaus for businesses. They are typically $1 million, $5 million, $10 million, $25 million, $100 million and a billion plus. At each level the organization has to make fundamental changes to develop the systems, people and marketing to get to the next level.

What’s shocking is how few companies break through the plateaus. 10% of small businesses reach $1 million in sales. Of that group only 5% achieve $5 million, and then only 3% of the 5% break $10 million. The odds are stacked up pretty high against a startup becoming a $10 million business.

In order to break through a revenue plateau a company has to master the next level before they can get there. For example a $5 million company has to implement the systems of a $10 million business before they can pop up. It’s a heavy investment, and a steep learning curve for the management team. Not every company is up for the challenge.

It all boils down to attitude

I love Steve’s response, because he has mentally prepared himself to keep blowing through the revenue plateaus. He knows he doesn’t know how to grow to $100 million yet, but he’s loving the process. Every day he gets to learn something new to help him reach his goal. He isn’t dejected or stuck. He’s learning.

When you put yourself in a learning frame of mind it’s far easier to solve problems. It removes the pressure of finding answers and feeling incompetent, and allows you to focus on the problems at hand. It allows you to frame the challenge, understand what you do and don’t know, and determine what it will take to fill in the gaps. This process provides a roadmap to consistently analyze and overcome almost any challenge – no matter how big.

So I am echoing Steve’s comment. I don’t know how to make money, but I am sure having fun learning.

What’s your take? What challenges are you wrestling with? Would a learner’s attitude change your approach to solving those challenges?

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