The Real Story of How Good Ideas Become Great Businesses

The archetype of the solo genius is so pervasive in the way people talk about and think about extraordinary success that it obscures the real story of how good ideas become great businesses. – The Self Made Billionaire Effect by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen.

When contemplating the lives of those we consider successful, we focus on the person. What he or she does, their habits, how disciplined they are, and the story of how their brilliant idea propelled them into business stardom. This is understandable because it’s what we see. We see Richard Branson launching a new venture. We’ve seen Mark Zuckerberg morph from techie to CEO. We watched closely as Oprah transformed herself from mega successful talk-show host to multimedia mogul.

Yet what’s missing?

The solo entrepreneurs who cross my path are struggling. They all have great ideas but something is missing and when they come to me, they’re in search of the weakest link. They work extremely hard but the reward for their efforts usually leaves them discontent. Shoulders hunched, they wonder “why bother?”

John and Mitch tell us that the reality is that these solo geniuses are hardly ever alone.

Creating billions in value requires both a master Producer, who can bring together divergent ideas and resources into a blockbuster product design, and a virtuoso Performer, who can apply his or her creative acumen to optimizing the potential of that design. Thus the Producer’s most important duality, in fact, may not be self-contained: it is the partnership built between individuals with complementary skills and mutual trust.

How does this look in reality?

Lynda and Stewart Resnick  are the pair behind Teleflora, Fiji Water and POM Wonderful. Stewart is strong on judgment making sure the businesses are profitable. But converting the pomegranate from a West Coast health food store rarity into an expensive, mass-market drink required Lynda’s imagination. She saw the long term health conscious antioxidant craze and she knew how to execute, attending to everything from the taste of the product to the shape of the bottle. Her genius not lonely moves millions of POM bottles a year, but has also managed, within a matter of months to re-brand a fruit and thus get millions of Americans to refer to clementines as “Cuties.”

you-can-do-anything-but-not-everythingDo you understand what makes you distinctive?

I asked this recently at a working session I facilitated for a client and her four employees. At first blush, most people felt they knew themselves pretty well; but after doing an exercise that revealed their motivated abilities, their paradigms shifted.

Now this was a group of hard workers…top performers even…but this business owner’s strategic vision is to get new clients and delve into new areas. The exercise revealed the true potential of the group and showed the owner, where she could tap into the talents of her employees to take her business in the direction she visualized.

The self made billionaires the authors studied put a premium on the skills and perspectives of their complement. “They have the confidence and insight to value the skills of the right partner who brings something necessary and distinct from what they have to offer.”

If you want to understand this winning formula for turning good ideas into great businesses then get a copy of Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickham and Mark C. Winters.

While John and Mitch use the terms Producer and Performer, Gino and Mark use Visionaries and Integrators. Visionaries have groundbreaking ideas. Integrators make those ideas a reality. According to these guys, this explosive combination is the key to getting everything you want out of your business. It worked for Disney. It worked for McDonald’s. It worked for Ford. It can work for you.

“Without an Integrator, a Visionary is far less likely to succeed long-term, and realize the company’s ultimate goals—likewise, with no Visionary, an Integrator can’t rise to his or her full potential. When these two people come together to share their natural talents and innate skill sets, it’s like rocket fuel—they have the power to reach new heights for virtually any company or organization.”

Do you have the right people in the right seats?

Here are some wise words from Mike Paton on the EOS Blog: Don’t Minimize the Impact of Any Employee

“First, when you stop noticing the little things people do every day to make a difference at work, they may no longer feel valued. And in my experience, it’s that feeling of being part of something special—a vital cog in the important machine that is your business—that helps you attract and retain great employees. Not money, not titles, not authority—just being valued. Too often, we get so busy dealing with big problems or celebrating big wins that we miss 98% of the little stuff that’s worthy of a genuine “thank you,” or a visible pat on the back. The second danger is what I like to call “It just doesn’t matter.” As you become more distant from the people “in the trenches” of your business, you start forgetting that they ARE capable of amazing things. They can make a huge difference in your business—good and bad.”

Up until now, our emphasis has always been on performance. What if we were able to tap into our own potential, helping others to do the same? What would our business look like? What would be the new shape of our business model? What changes might we see in revenue and profit?

Look for ways to harness potential by pairing people whose talents and worldview contrast and complement. Two individuals working together, complementing each other – uncovers efficiencies and creative ideas that outperform other options. And by all means, look for and match yourself f to a partner who has conflicting but complementary skills to your own.

The reality is that the time has come to address who you really need to partner with to complement your own skills and talents because the writing is on the wall: If you persist in doing it alone, you will fail to tap into and maximize the full potential of your business and maybe…just maybe…you will eventually fail!

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