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Building a successful consulting business - the ‘complete entrepreneur’
Welcome to the second article in our series by Dom Moorhouse.
The ‘Complete Entrepreneur’ (continued)
 
 In this piece, we will
be focusing on the
importance of having the
right entrepreneurial
mind-set and continuing
to examine the ‘complete
entrepreneur’. If you
missed the first article
in this series
click here.
  
  
   6. Decision making
tempo


   This one is critical.
Building a business is
about momentum:
experimenting with new
service offerings;
qualifying opportunities
in or out; hiring new
people; expanding into
new markets. As the
person at the apex (or
even as the singleton
pioneer) you will need
to make a raft of
decisions every day. The
best leaders I worked
for prior to starting
out on my own had this
very special quality:
they made decisions with
tempo. It is so
seductive to wait for
more information, more
data ... but know this:
you will never have the
complete data set. Far
better to make
progress-enabling
decisions and get them
right 80% of the time
than to put all your
colleagues into
morale-sapping stasis
with protracted
deferment. There is a
stratagem in the
military that refers to
winning the battle by
‘getting inside the
enemy’s decision making
cycle’. The analogy
 
 carries to the
commercial world in so
much as you will steer
your firm to the top of
the market if you can
ride the constantly
spinning OODA
(observe-orientate-decide
-act loop) faster than
your competition.
  
   7. Obstacles are
what you see when you
take your eyes off the
goal


   There is a very thin
line between dogmatic
tenacity and delusion.
This quality, therefore,
is not about hanging
onto a dream when every
new bit of information
tells you it is doomed
(this is a well-known
psychological trap known
as cognitive
dissonance). It is,
however, about the
mental tenacity to see a
way around the everyday
challenge, minutiae and
bureaucracy that the
world can throw at you.
As I was taught in the
Royal Marines, in the
face of whatever was
thrown at you, you need
to ‘improvise, adapt,
overcome’. Put another
way, as my Gran used to
say: ‘It takes a
carpenter to build a
shed but any donkey can
kick one down.’ Be
aware, the world is full
of donkeys who revel in
why something can’t be
done; an entrepreneur is
constantly, tirelessly,
looking to prove them
wrong.
  
   8. You are in
business to be in
 
 business

   This was one of the
best bits of advice I
got on stepping out and
talks to another key
attribute required –
business savvy. A good
entrepreneur does not
‘smoke his own dope’ in
relation to getting too
puffed up with the
rhetoric of business.
All the MBA-type
analysis, business
planning and product
development is for
nought if you aren’t
actually out there
trading. I meet many who
love the cerebral aspect
of it all: they have the
shiniest service
offering you have ever
seen but appear to have
totally lost the point
that it is all
fundamentally about
selling a service for
more than it costs you
to provide it. A real
entrepreneur just gets
out there and does
business. Be receptive
to what the market wants
as opposed to
belligerently sticking
to your original offer
on the basis clients
will eventually come to
you. We had another
expression at Moorhouse
which sought to
encourage us into action
whenever we were
starting to pontificate
– ‘Stop polishing
stones, start throwing
some’.
  
   9. Courage

   Plain and simple – of
all variants. Later in
this guide I will cover
your attitude to
 
 business risk but you
will need a well of
moral courage also. Why?
Well, you are about to
grow a people business
and leadership of such
an organisation will
invariably throw at you
human conundrums also.
You can have no idea now
of the variety of issues
that will come your way
for resolution. All you
should know is that,
occasionally, situations
arise that will test
your integrity. When
this happens, hold the
line. Never, ever seek
short term popularity or
the easy route when you
know it comes at a
compromise of your
values, integrity or
sense of fairness. Such
a position will always
slowly unwind.
  
   10. Luck

   There is an inherent
danger in seeking to
nail down the attributes
of a successful
entrepreneur and, for
completeness, I am going
to call it out. You base
such an analysis on your
own experience, great
leaders you have worked
for, CEO biographies you
have read. Many of the
attributes I have listed
you intuitively knew
already – optimism,
risk-taking, courage
etc. What these studies
sometimes fail to
acknowledge, however, is
the ‘silent evidence’ –
all the stories of those
that didn’t succeed.
These tales are less
often written up which
is a shame because done
 
 well they can carry far
more useful information
than the pro forma
success story. If you
could access it, this
‘graveyard’ would be
full of people with
similar traits. So the
reality could be that
the only attribute of
real consequence – that
really separates the
winners from the ‘nearly
rans’ – is luck, plain
and simple. I certainly
had my fair share of
this – more of which
later – so maybe I am
also guilty of a
retrospective ‘narrative
fallacy’ when I list all
these other factors.
Maybe. I would like to
believe it is more than
just luck but you will
need to judge that for
yourself. What I can be
sure of, however, is
that you will certainly
need a dose of it. But
then doesn’t luck come
to those that are
inclined to look for it!
  
   So how did you do? Do
you personally qualify
for the cape and
superhero underpants?
  
   Let me reiterate
again, this is a
platonic ideal of the
entrepreneur – he or she
doesn’t exist in reality
in this idealised form.
  
   In the next edition,
I address an aspirant
entrepreneur on the
topic of ‘attitude to
risk’.
 
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