We’re in a war for business today. Any reader of this blog knows that I am by no means a “doom-and-gloomer,” but I also don’t want to downplay the urgency and crisis nature of where we are today, especially for small and mid-sized business enterprises (SMEs).
I just got off the phone with a reporter from The Wall Street Journal. We were discussing Obama’s recent “small business stimulus plan” and just how much impact small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) were going to fuel any economic and job recovery we would see of the next year to a year and half. The gist of my comments was that if SMEs aren't the engine, we’re in (what shall I say) deep kimchee.
After hanging up, I realized how much the executives of SMEs are contributing to their own problem. Reviewing a client’s marketing materials, the only thought that came to my mind was: wow, what a reasonable – and BORING – argument. I’ve noticed that reasonable and boring often go together. Seth Godin talks about this all the time. He points out that it's better to be hated than it is to be liked. The objective, of course, is to be loved; but if you're not doing something that can be hated - it's highly unlikely that you're doing anything worthy of love.
I guess the underlying cause is humility, but I can’t get over just how difficult it is for SME leaders to make the bold statement and to take the bold positioning they need to take. It’s as if SME leaders don’t want to be thought of as crazy. Though I know of nothing great that was ever initiated by someone that wasn’t, at least, a little crazy. Here are some of my crazy role models:
- John F. Kennedy (Going to the moon)
- Richard Branson (A record company, an airline, an insurance company, and hundreds of other companies all under the banner of Virgin)
- Sam Walton (A nationwide network of big box discount retailers)
- Bill Gates (A PC on every desktop)
- Warren Buffet (If you think Buffet wasn’t crazy, just check out the restrictions he put on people who wanted to invest with him early in his career)
- Steve Jobs (A thousand songs on an MP3 player)
- M. Night Shyamalan (I see dead people)
Here’s the point – stop making rational arguments, they are not enough to get through the noise and fear. Embrace the very insanity that led you to start or run an SME to begin with. Be bold. Scare yourself and your staff.
Then work like hell to make it happen!
If you do, you’ll make my role model list. Who are your crazy role models?