From time to time, I play an interesting exercise with my business and my clients’ businesses.
I ask myself, if Bill Gates were running this business, what we he do differently?
I always assume that he runs the business anonymously, isn’t able to take advantage of his fame as the richest and most successful entrepreneur in the world, and isn’t allowed to use his personal Rolodex.
Given all that, could the business in question perform any better than it is right now?
Invariable the answer I always come up with is an absolute YES.
I once watched an interview with Bill Gate’s good friend Warren Buffet. He said, “Bill is a phenomenal business person. If he had to run a hot dog stand instead of Microsoft, you can be darn sure that it would the world’s largest and most successful hot dog stand business within a few years.”
The second thing I always can’t help but notice is WHY I think Gates could any business to an entirely new level.
It always comes down to 3 things.
1) DESIRE TO WIN
2) THINKING BIGGER
1) DESIRE TO WIN
First, Gates is an incredibly motivated guy. You don’t become the richest person in the world on pure luck or even on pure talent. It does take an incredible desire to win (and the action behind that desire) to pull it off..
And one thing is for certain, Bill Gates simply can not stand to lose. It’s just not in his DNA.
In fact, if you look carefully at the Billionaire Boys Club here in Silicon Valley, you’ll see that all those guys Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple), Larry Ellison (Founder of Oracle Software), and dozens of less notable super achievers hate to lose at anything.
Where the field of competition is business, sports, or checkers, the billionaires MUST WIN NO MATTER WHAT.
Their need to win is almost a psychological obsession – and many would argue it IS an obsession.
As a small business owner, you don’t need to have a pathological desire (and willingness to action) to win, but you do need to be incredibly determined.
2) THINKING BIGGER
Very closely related to motivation is what someone like Bill Gates expects to get out of any business he runs. All of them are determined to win in any economic environment and they EXPECT to grow.
It doesn’t even occur to someone like Gates that his business is going to shrink. He doesn’t expect it and certainly doesn’t tolerate it in the slightest.
Now thinking bigger and expecting revenue growth alone doesn’t grow a business. But what it DOES do that is vital is this. When you expect a business to grow, but aren’t sure how to make it happen… it forces you to LOOK for ways to make it grow.
See right now in this economy most business are expecting to SHRINK. And guess what this “think small/smaller” perspective is causing most business (i.e., all of your competitors) to overlook opportunities left and right.
Not surprisingly many business are shrinking – not just because of the shrinkage of the economy but also because of their insistence on ignoring the opportunities that recessions create.
The simply mathematical reality is the ONLY possible way to grow your business in shrinking economy/market is to take business away from a competitor.
When the size of the pie shrinks and you’re hungry, you must fight to get a bigger slice of the pie. Period.
There is NO OTHER WAY.
This is WHY you have to thing bigger and think outside of the “box” (or at least think beyond what normally comprises your slice of the economic pie)
The final area is comes to business skills. If you want your business to double in sales and profits each year, it’s pretty much impossible unless your own business skills are doubling each year too.
This is what I admire most about Bill Gates.
Not his wealth, but the face that he grew his business skills from solo entrepreneur to empire builder.
Every time you “add a zero” to your sales, say from $100,000 to $ 1 million or $1 million to $10 million, it requires the CEO/owner to have developed a whole need level of business skill to pull it off.
Considering Microsoft went from a $100,000 a year business to a $60,000,000,000 a year business, the level of improvement in Gates’ skills to pull that off is astounding.
The tricky part is the skills that got you “here” are exactly the wrong skills to get you “there”. You have to stop doing what made you successful so far to get you to the next level of success.
In my next email, I’ll share two stories with you that I heard Bill Gates share in a PBS special last night.
Bill Gates and his buddy Warren Buffet were filmed while giving an advice giving Q&A session to a few thousand college students – possibly the only time the richest and second richest people in the world were in the same room freely giving business and career advice to others.