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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’.