Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The role of luck

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from personal experience starting, operating and growing small businesses.

     Running a small business is hard work. You face a new set of problems every day and sometimes you make decisions on the fly. These things can get you off target.

     The thing that can keep you sane is your long-term goal. A business plan heads you in the direction of that long-term goal. (See more on business plans in previous write-ups.)

     A business plan is an ever-changing blueprint. That long-term goal is more stable. It, too, can change, but a firm goal can keep you out of trouble. 

     Example: Peter started up and runs a bar tending school. He tapped into a growing interest for trained bartenders to work at bars, taverns, clubs and ever private parties. Suddenly he found himself in the right place at the right time. A client asked Peter why he didn't train others--like barristers. Coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and others had a need for servers trained in making fancy coffees. Peter already had facilities set up. He hired a Coffee Master and convened his first classes, expanding into an entirely different area, but one which fit in well.

     Sometimes, a bit of luck can head you and your business off in an unforeseen direction. But sometimes, not.

     Example: James was an insurance agent working for a major company. He had thought about leaving the industry early, or, certainly at retirement, he wanted a small business of his own. It would probably have something to do with carpentry--he had a small workshop with equipment, tools and stocks of fine woods where, in his spare time, he made tables and other furniture. One day a client called, saying that an uncle had died leaving a workshop full of antique wood turning tools and lathes. James went to see the machines and got excited about the possibilities. He bought those old lathes, and it changed his life--an unexpected stroke of luck had taken him down another career path. Today, he is a master wood turner, making bowls and other pieces. Antique lathes can perform tasks not possible with modern equipment. James no longer sells insurance. 

     A stroke of luck can change your life--and your business. Just be careful. Don't jump into something before thinking through all the possibilities and drawbacks. 

     All of us need a little luck to get where we want to go. But don't count on winning the lottery.

     Keep your options open, but your goal clearly in mind. Lucky opportunities can--and do--come up all the time. But heading down a side road, without knowing where it will lead you, can mess with your overall goal, not to mention your life.  

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