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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Advisors and Luck Improve Business - Photo Example

Preplanning is essential in all startup businesses.  Most often this takes place before and during development of your business plan.  In my personal blog, I defined steps to create a business plan and start the business.  I also elaborate on selecting advisors and directors and how critical they are to the success of your business.  New business owners and even the more experienced entrepreneurs often are working so hard they miss things that could have improved the chances for success; i.e., they are just too close to situations.
The better advisors are likely highly experienced executives or former executives that you’re your business and are willing to take an active interest in the CEO and the company.  They should have a personality that complements the CEO and willingness to guide and mentor.  The CEO must plan strategy to enhance chances for success but if they lack experience they could use guidance to ensure: 1) key opportunities are not missed; 2) they see opportunities often missed due to lack of experience, and 3) they recognize and capitalize on lucky breaks.  I have found that each of these circumstances have come in companies while I was running them. Recently, I encountered real life examples through my hobby of photography.  The following is intended to help the reader visualize how luck, planning, and guidance can improve performance.
I took up photography as a hobby a few years ago and now have graduated to sharing my photos in a website.  In preparing to discuss the relation of luck, planning, and advisors relating to success in business, three photos and the events leading to obtaining the photos came to mind that demonstrate the relationships.  Keep in mind that I plan my trips and make every effort to identify an appropriate guide for the region I plan to visit; much as you would plan any business venture. 
ADVICE FROM AN EXPERIENCED ADVISOR:  While in the Everglades, my guide was an experienced wildlife photographer.  While touring, we came close to the bird in the photo and the guide suggested taking a portrait.  I stood next to my guide and we both took a photo or two.  As we shared views of our images on the digital cameras, my guide said he did not like my photos.  I saw no difference in the photos and questioned why mine were different from his.  He then asked me to move about 12 inches to the exact spot where he was standing and take the photo again.  On review of the before and after move shots, I was amazed to see a large difference which he pointed out.  There was a gap in the bush behind the bird that made the background have a white area running from top to bottom in the before move shot.  After moving, the photo (above) had a filled in and clean background making the photo much better.  My Experienced Advisor knew what to look for and showed me how to improve my performance.  My original photo was OK, but my performance was greatly improved by moving on the advice of a professional.
THE ADVISOR SHOWS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Traveling to an Indian reservation in Arizona, I retained the assistance of a Navajo Indian guide familiar with Antelope Canyon.  On the first day, we were extensively on foot in slot canyons, some of which were nearly totally enclosed.  The guide often suggested interesting formations to shoot.  At one point, he stopped and said do you see the “Heart of the Canyon.”  At the moment, it did not mean much to me and I only saw a hole allowing me to see partial sky.  The guide insisted that I take a photo of the opening which I thought would be of little value and  difficult to get a quality photograph.  I set my tripod very low and got on my knees to take the photo. I adjusted my lens gradually taking photos of the opening.  After several photos, all of a sudden, I saw the image of a heart show up on the back of my camera. I then saw the guide was speaking of a real image of a heart.  I would never have seen the image had I not been told to look.  I also would have missed it had I not taken time to explore the opportunity from several different vantage points.  The point of this story is that in business a great advisor can show you an opportunity, but sometimes you also need to examine it extensively to get the best approach and value from the opportunity.
LUCK IN BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT:  I cannot tell you how many times lucky breaks have resulted in a new opportunity or gotten me out of a difficult situation.  Some made the difference between success and complete failure.  Luck had a lot to do with the photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I had planned to walk to the bridge with full intention to take a photo.  I had not guide but planned the route.  It was a long walk and I took many photos.  The photo shown here is one of my favorites due to the two girls wearing the exact same dress running on a sand bar and playing.  To me, that actually made the photo complete.  Most every time I have been in that area; it has been overcast, cold, and people were wearing jackets.  I have never seen anyone on the sand bar playing.  It just happened that on this day and this time, the girls were there.  The only way I would likely ever get this photo again would be if I staged it.  On this day, I planned a trip, I took the right materials, I knew what I wanted to take a photo of, and when I saw the girls, I tried to make the best of the opportunity which lasted only a few minutes.
The points of these stories are to highlight that in startup companies: 1) every entrepreneur must plan, 2) they need experienced advisors, and 3) they need to be vigilant in order to capitalize on lucky breaks.  Any mix of these can lead to improved performance or success rather than failure.
Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon