Want to Be Successful? Quit Wasting Your Brain.
The most productive time of the day is not early morning. Work productivity has absolutely nothing to do with your daily rituals or habits. And the truth is, your success probably has little to do with productivity in the first place.
Productivity is about efficiency and output. That may count for something if you make cars or semiconductor chips, but for the overwhelming majority of you, productivity doesn’t mean a damn thing.
If being creative matters to you, and it should, it might surprise you to know that you’re probably most innovative when you’re tired. I often have epiphanies when I’m half asleep, during an exhausting workout, or in the shower … not a weird shower, mind you, just a normal one. But that’s neither here nor there.
The thing is, we’re all different. And if you listen to your own body and instincts you’ll do fine. Unfortunately, most of you are much too busy binging on all sorts of online nonsense and distraction to pay any attention to what your body and your gut are telling you.
The great irony is, cavemen had all that figured out. They awoke with the sun, ate when there was food, and slept when they got tired. They somehow managed to accomplish all that with a brain about a third of the size of yours. And everything worked out fine ... as long as they avoided those saber-toothed tigers.
You know, the only thing that distinguishes modern man from caveman is our highly evolved neocortex. Honestly folks, do you really think humans developed the capacity for complex reasoning so we can sit on our butts and ponder stuff that a caveman or even a frog does without even thinking? Of course not.
A great mind is a terrible thing to waste. So quit wasting yours. And quit wasting the precious time you have to build your career and business worrying about stupid nonsense like what time you get up, how you eat breakfast, your sleep habits, and what kind of showers you take.
Look, you’re supposed to be an entrepreneur, right? And that’s all about business, right? So what do you say we take a step back and look at this logically. When it comes to business, the only important time of day is the time you spend actually working. And the only habits that matter are your work habits.
That’s right, nothing else matters … unless, of course, you’re slacking off when you should be working. So get to work. And for the record, here are five questions that enormous brain of yours needs to answer if you want to make something of yourself and have a successful business someday.
What customer problem do you solve?
I don’t care how much you love doing something or how passionate you are about doing it, if you don’t come up with a big problem that customers will pay to have solved, your entrepreneurial career will be very short-lived.
What’s your solution and what’s its value proposition?
If your products and services don’t offer a far superior value proposition with respect to the competition, then you’ve got what’s called a commodity product. That means you’re going to be slugging it out on price. That’s not a good place to be.
How are you going to win and keep customers?
Even the best solution doesn’t always win. You still need a plan to reach potential customers, win the business, keep customers happy, and put up competitive barriers because competition always goes where the business is.
How are you going to gain market share and scale?
You’re always creating a new market, expanding the overall market, or taking market share from others. Whichever it is, you need strategies and capital to do it. Market share isn’t just costly to lose. It’s costly to gain, as well.
How are you going to fund your growth?
This is where most entrepreneurs and small business owners fall short. You have to have a clear plan with reasonable assumptions to fund your business as it grows. Otherwise, you’ll run out of cash – easily the most common reason businesses fail.
If you come up with those five strategies and successfully execute, I guarantee you’ll do quite well for yourself. If you don’t, you’d better keep working on it until you do, because none of them are optional if you want to get anywhere on your own.
So quit screwing around on stuff a caveman or even a slimy amphibian can do and put those frontal lobes to work building an actual business.
Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, October 2015). Tobak runs Silicon Valley-based Invisor Consulting and blogs at stevetobak.com, where you can contact him and learn more.