The reality is that any business has to be about meeting the needs of other people, providing a product or service that other people want, solving the problems of other people, and providing something that other people find valuable.
To succeed, I have to serve others, not myself.
Coming up with an idea of what I think will happen is one thing, but that doesn’t make it reality. And in business, we have to deal with reality. I may think that my product is great. But if nobody else agrees, nobody else wants it, then it doesn’t matter! I may think that I’m offering a great price, but if everyone else thinks it’s not worth what I’m charging, then it’s not worth what I’m charging.
I have found over the years that most of my errors are errors of assumption. When I assume that I’m going the right direction and don’t pay attention to the reality, I will often go off track. We all have a lot of ideas, and a lot of ideas that seem good on paper—but when we try them they don’t always work. And that’s ok! Failing and making a mistake is a necessary part of life. But what’s not ok is when you keep on going the wrong direction because you never look at reality. Failing is fine, but fail fast and then try something else.
Wishing something, thinking something, or even truly believing something are not what makes something real. I’ve had many ideas for companies in my 50 years in business. Some of the ideas that I thought were the very best, slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it ideas…completely flopped. Other people didn’t see the same value that I did, and didn’t see it as solving a problem in their lives. It wasn’t about me.
Other ideas that I didn’t have as much confidence in have sometimes taken off and become hugely successful. It’s all about other people.
That’s why it’s so important to always be plugged in with other people. You have to talk to other people and really listen and engage with them. Get their opinions on your ideas. Look for different perspectives. Others will see things that I don’t—and I might see things they don’t.
But for any business to succeed, and to have a sustainable business model, it ultimately has to be about what you can do for other people. Not what I think is cool, not what I want, but what other people need. Put others first, and they will take you a long way. Think of yourself first and always, and you won’t get anywhere.