Have you got the guts?

“I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It’s done on gut feeling.”

—Richard Branson

I remember attending a sales training session where the facilitator posed the question, ‘Do we, as human beings, desire pleasure or the avoidance of pain?’ Having not heard that before, I automatically thought, ‘I want pleasure’, but as he went on to explain, if we had to prioritise the two choices, many of us want to avoid pain, and if we do so, we are moving towards pleasure.

What often holds us back in life is the F-word — fear.

Many of us fear the pain that comes with failure, and failure comes from not meeting our own expectations or those that others have of us. Business ownership is all about that, and we decide if we want to continue doing what we are currently doing or do something different to get a different result. Ultimately, it’s about moving away from the pain of our current situation and moving closer to something that will give us more pleasure. Sounds easy, but the reality is that going into business is anything but easy. It is made easier by going into a franchise business because much of the development (hard) work has been done before and the system works.

Some considering business ownership dislike what they are currently doing, and it is causing them ‘pain’ of some kind, and they want that to change it, while other people may be comfortable and ‘pain’ free in their current role.

If we are comfortable in our everyday life and we are not experiencing pain, why change? Why take risks? Usually, because we want more, whatever that more may be. For those that consider business ownership, there can be several motivating factors, we may be unhappy in our current role, we may want the freedom to do what we want when we want, we may want the opportunity to improve our position, be that financial or hierarchical, we may have always had a yearning for being our own boss. If you’re reading this post, you may have had those thoughts, but something is holding you back, and for a lot of us, it’s fear. As human beings, we don’t like change, we don’t like risk and we don’t like the pain associated with failure.

Now you’re probably thinking, ‘That’s right, Doug, I’ve worked hard to get what I’ve got, and I don’t want to risk it’. But here’s the thing: you’re reading this post, which means you may want to do it, but you just need to some help to minimise the risk and help you make a good decision.

That’s what this post is all about. I love franchising, I love business and I love being a business owner, but every time I have started a new business, I was paralysed with fear because none of us like to lose what we’ve worked so hard to build. But as long as you do your research you have a significantly better chance of success.

I’d like to raise two aspects of ‘guts’. As I see it, guts come into play in many ways as a business owner. Traditionally, when people refer to ‘guts’ in business, they refer to the courage to make decisions. I want to expand that and consider one other relevant reference to guts.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

—Walt Disney

There are three inspirational stories of courage and persistence that I resonate with.

I love the story of Colonel Harland Sanders being rejected by 1,009 restaurants before one took on his recipe.

Walt Disney was turned down by 302 banks before getting the finance to fund Disneyland and was fired from the Kansas City Star because the editor thought he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.

Steve Jobs was sacked from Apple, the company he founded, but he came back and turned the business around.

The Two Guts You Need to Use in Business

Guts in Business

Many business owners can relate to this: the feelings when they questioned why they ever got into business. They contemplate how to get out. They’ve probably had that sick feeling in the pit of their stomach to the point of actually being sick, worrying about the state of their business and the impact it had on the people around them and those that they love. I know I have!

It was so much safer and, at times more, enjoyable to be an employee with a guaranteed salary, holiday and sick leave, bonuses, and incentives. Being able to clock off at the end of the day and not have to worry about work until the next day because you were only responsible to yourself and the role you fulfilled. As a business owner, you’re responsible for everyone and everything. There’s no IT or marketing department to call on, no financial controller and surplus funds in the bank account to meet payroll obligations or pay your suppliers when they’re due.

You are no longer just responsible for your income. There’s your family’s welfare, your assets and everything that you’ve worked so hard for. There are the employees who are part of your team, who you think of as your extended family. As a business owner, you have their livelihood and that of their families in your hands.

Why would anyone go into business? It takes guts, and it’s all about risk. I believe there are ‘risk-seekers’ and ‘risk-tolerators’. All business owners are risk-takers, and while you must be, the key is the calculated risk.

It might sound a little irresponsible to term a group of business owners as risk-seekers because no one should actively seek risk. But there is an inevitability associated with business ownership that involves risk, and some business owners are more comfortable with risk.

Risk-seekers derive excitement from uncertainty. Have you ever driven your car around on empty when you could have just as easily filled up earlier? Do you ever schedule that extra meeting, when in reality, there is no possible way you can fit it in? Heaven forbids you might have even run late for a flight or missed one completely, or dare I say it, been late for a meeting.

There’s a strong chance that if you’re a risk-seeker, you like the adrenaline rush. You’ve probably driven too fast, bungee jumped, skydived, been around wild animals, or partaken in other adrenaline-junkie-type activity.

Risk-seekers are impatient and like doing multiple things because we get a bit bored with too much detail, and we make decisions quickly.

Risk-tolerators do not necessarily see risk as risk. They pursue their goals by understanding, accepting, managing the inherent risks of the decisions that they make.

I have had partners in seven of my businesses. I should probably start off by sharing with you that I am a risk-seeker, but I would only classify myself as mid-level and by no means extreme. I have a few of those kinds of business owners I coach and consult with; more about them a little later.

This may not be indicative of every business situation, but four of my business partners have been risk-tolerators, and coincidentally, each of these has been excellent businesses that have been very financially rewarding. My other three business partners were probably more like me, and while the partnership was fun, it was nowhere near as profitable as it could have been.

The risk-tolerant business owner spends more time analysing, understanding, and assessing the risks at hand, learning how best to mitigate them. These risk-tolerant individuals confront fear not with the risk-seeker’s optimism, but with thoughtful analysis, management, and self-awareness techniques.

You can’t decide which one you want to be. I think it is inherent in your DNA, but what we need to do, whichever risk profile you have in business, is learn and borrow from each type of person and take on the characteristics of each profile.