Business owners and leaders seek clarity and certainty when making important decisions. They search for both by attending economic updates, talking with respected advisers and occasionally even listening to the news. Perceived certainty can also come from a vision, a sage or even a fool. History and past data points provide some of the greatest sources of support for a business decision. Unfortunately, these sources alone cannot truly provide the desired certainty.
Clarity of one’s purpose and beliefs ultimately drives certainty. Certainty of one’s decisions derives from the clarity of the goals, values and desires that have been shaped in each of us since birth. The articles read, mentors met and even traumatic experiences all play a role in shaping our current perspectives. Personal viewpoints clarify one’s risk tolerance and amplify goals and objectives.
Recently, we have been assisting an outstanding entrepreneur in the sale of his business. After just more than a decade, his business has grown significantly, serves customers on a national basis and employs several hundred people. His business vision and success have been based upon his strong understanding of his industry, his mastery of the “recipe” to add customers and locations, his ability to retain and attract key people and his personal belief and conviction that he can and will build a world-class business.
As we reflect on his journey, it is truly his clarity of purpose that has driven his certainty and enabled him to take the bold actions needed to build a world-class company. For every successful owner who navigated the rapids to build their business, there are 10 who saw risk and retracted growth plans or sold their business at a critical inflection point. Often, as a business owner achieves a defined success level or matures, his or her appetite to repeatedly “place chips (family security) back on the table” changes.
The moment an owner fears the future more than cherishes the opportunity it represents, a change is necessary. The change may be the sale of the business, rotation of business leadership, or establishing a partnership to advance the company. When business owners have clarity of purpose, it allows them to more easily make the hard decisions during a time of transition.
The clarity of an owner’s decisions during a time of transition is difficult. Stories abound of owners missing an economic cycle and finding themselves waiting for the next M&A window to open or, worse, struggling to maintain their quality of life. Untold personal stories abound of an owner who placed economic goals ahead of unfulfilled personal desires such as charity work and family development. The owner with personal clarity and conviction rarely laments on these missed opportunities.
The more personal clarity a business owner possesses, the more certainty his or her decisions have. Rather than simply pursuing facts and ancillary data points to drive certainty, a business owner is wise to seek personal clarity of purpose and direction first.
Tom Zucker is founder and president at EdgePoint