At a recent Biznik event I attended, Glenn Froehlich a fellow Biznik member, opened by having everyone in attendance stand and congratulate each other on being a survivor. The battle this past year has been for some entrepreneurs in some cases deadly. A massacre of sorts.
In 1876, when Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer chose to ignore his scouts’ reports about the size of the Indian encampment a great massacre followed. It didn't need to happen.
What message and who are you choosing to ignore in 2011?
If you aren’t familiar with this great American moment in history refresh your memory about Custer’s Last Stand then ask yourself this question:
Custer may have been a leader as a lieutenant colonel in the Army, but would he be considered a smart businessman in modern day?
Yes, it’s been a rough time for business in general and many solopreneurs, but we need to remember Custer’s mistake in 1876 and not repeat it in 2011. Custer was ordered by General Terry to keep his 650 man, 7th Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry, together and attack as a unit, from horseback, playing to his armies' strength. They were going to need every advantage, pitted against a combined force estimated at 2,500 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors.
Those odds probably seem pretty familiar to some of you as you try to make it during this tough economy. The question I had to ask myself was:
“Am I playing to my strength or am I choosing to do what Custer did?”
Custer disobeyed his orders and split his command into three separate companies of about 160, basically trying to cover all his bases at once. Then during the battle, an order was given to dismount and fight from the ground, trying to be and do all things, and finally they all where forced to take up defensive formations, not their strength nor the focus of their training.
When faced with the challenges of entrepreneurship and limited resources, the temptation is to try to cover all the bases alone, to be all things and take up positions that don’t play to our strengths or trianing.
You have a passion to deliver your product / service. You have the skills, training and experience to support it. That’s your strength. That’s your advantage against the odds.
Don’t be a Custer and dilute your strength. Make 2011 the year you really embrace collaboration and see what comes of it.
The time and effort spent being all things will make you a part-timer at your passion. Not only that, but as great as you are, you are not that great at all things. The time spent away from your strength (covering all the bases) to “save money” is greatly reducing the time you have available to “make money”. You’re in defense mode, fighting a losing battle with less and less money coming in the door.
Attack, play to your strength. Seek support from those better equipped and skilled to cover the other bases. Call for reinforcements.
Seek out people whose passion, expertise and talent complement yours. They will perform what’s needed better, faster and in the long run, cheaper than you can. Why reinvent the wheel?
I have found that if you seek other entrepreneurs, they’re pretty much all in the same boat as you. They’re just trying to stay afloat. So by teaming up you end up helping each other. In other words, it’s not always about money or the lack thereof. It’s about forming relationships that are mutually benefical.
Remember Custer? Now think about the 2,500 warriors. They were the Lakota, many groups of Cheyenne, Arapaho and several other small, weak and dying Indian Nations. And they recognized they all brought something different into the battle.
They were able to use each others' skills and strengths to form a unit of common support. The group had the common goal of success.
My wish for you is success. Regroup. Take control of your resources. Form a tribe with common goals. Is this not one of the tenets upon which Biznik is founded?
Going solo in business doesn't mean we must do it alone. In fact, we are more likely to be successful if we involve others who complement our best self. I'm having an enjoyable time finding partners and collaborators, which means I am that much more likely to be successful more quickly.
When we meet, as I hope we will, I will shake your hand and congratulate you as a fellow survivor, a success, an entrepreneur.
And one final question to ponder till we meet:
Whom do you need to invite into your diverse tribe of talent?