A few years ago there was a very smart Octopus who took the world by storm. Paul was his name, and his claim to fame was the ability to predict the outcome of eight World Cup football
matches. Since then, quite a few Octopi have somehow managed to position themselves as global celebrities. Like the record-breaking Ozy the Octopus from New Zealand, who opened a jar to get to his breakfast in less than 60 seconds. Or Inky the escape artist, who mysteriously freed himself from an Aquarium. Legend has it that a life-saving Octopus from Tellaro surfaced from the bay and rang a church bell to warn Italian villagers from pirates who were planning to take over their town.
So what does the curious behaviour of world-renowned Ocephalopods have in common with business?
For one, they are smart. Not just curious and clever but super-intelligent, bragging with a brain-to-body ratio that is the largest of any invertebrate. This knowledge points us into one of the biggest misnomers in entrepreneurship, namely the popular idea that we have to fail forward in order to be successful. Of course you need life experience to acquire wisdom, but I’m referring to a total lack in tried-and-tested business intelligent formulas that can be plugged and played into most businesses. Ancient rulers knew the importance of mastering the basics first, and so does the rich. Seems even the Octopus has worked out that following
certain steps will lead to a predictable outcome.
There is more to be learned from our Octopus friends, so bare with me.
The Octopus knows that the ocean is filled with predators, no different from the unclear entrepreneurial environment filled with uncertainty and overwhelm. It is not unusual then for an Octopus to loose a few tentacles in their lifetime, but no problem if you have eight arms
that can act independently from one another, each with their own mini-brain. Why then do we as business owners not diversify? Most entrepreneurs rely solely on one income stream and (in all honesty) struggle their entire life with only that. Imagine what is economically possible
if all entrepreneurs had eight separate income streams? Starting as an unique expression of each individual’s talents and ending up at eight independently scalable businesses that can be sold.
It seems as if these guys really think things through.
Commonly known in entrepreneurial circles as strategic thinking, another skill that seemed to have faded with time. Whether they are opening and closing fish tanks, camouflaging themselves from predators or completing their tasks using tools, the Octopus takes the time out of their busy schedule to research, observe and test their hunches. On the same planet, expert entrepreneurs have fallen prey to what I call the to-do-list syndrome™, focusing 80% of their time on executing mindless tasks and 20% on using their brains. Not smart at all. Refining the way you spend your hours each day will change your life significantly. Investing energy into the wellbeing of your mind will pay off more than your time spent on social media. Actively working with mentors who are living proof of business success is your only surety in business. Identifying the right skills for the future is a safer path to true self-confidence, like learning how to put high-end offers together and selling them in a classy way.
I can go on about how smart the Octopus is forever, but let’s focus now on you.
The person who wants a business of their own so that you can do the things you love. So many entrepreneurs leave a corporate job to create a life of prosperity for themselves and their families, but they end up only stressed, alone and without cash. This is not how business was meant to be. You deserve as much success as the next person, and there is no reason why your purpose, passion and sense of freedom cannot be incorporated into your products and services. The Octopus knows this, we know this, and therefore it is my privilege to be the one to remind you of the business basics that will assure your success. I will give you an extra tip, the head of the Octopus, but let’s start with the eight tentacles first.
Tentacle #1 – Business Strategy
You really want to think about what you are doing with your business and why you
are doing it. Many entrepreneurs just get up each day, jump on their email and start responding. Take time out regularly to wonder about your options. Ask yourself constantly whether you should be doing a particular task or if it is wasting your talents. Spend more time on planning on your business so that you can become smarter in the ways you execute within your business.
Tentacle #2 – Conscious Leadership
It is incredibly stressful to build a business day and night and then try to organise your lifestyle, loved ones and personal preferences around it. Do it the right way around. Find out what you value first, decide what you want to do with your life and then build a business that fits with that. A conscious entrepreneur is someone who starts from the inside out, knowing that they are ultimately only accountable to themselves. A mess from within will show up as a mess on the outside.
Tentacle #3 – Products and Services
What seems to be obvious, is many times one of the biggest pitfalls for entrepreneurs who design business offers for customer personas that doesn’t exist. In addition, many business owners get stuck because they simply price themselves too low. Others fall into the retainer trap or continue to charge out their services per hour. Consider stacking the value for your customers and charge lump sum prices. Build products and services that contain your unique essence. Price much higher.
Tentacle #4 – People and Talent
Technology is great, but over the years it has taken the focus away from the importance of people in our lives. The strongest, most successful and resilient entrepreneurs do not spend their days behind computers, but rather out there with people, building relationships. The basics still apply – people do business with people, whether you head up a boutique business or run a corporate empire. Have strong boundaries, communicate properly with people and make your team, suppliers, customers and partners feel special and appreciated. That is a good start to managing talent.
Tentacle #5 – Smart Marketing
Target audiences have never been more resistant to false promises and distasteful marketing tactics. It is your job as an entrepreneur to get clarity on what your ideal buyer looks like and then find ways for them to trust you in an authentic way. Marketing has never been this personal, especially with everyone (including you) being over-subscribed, over-spammed and overwhelmed. Use this intelligence to your advantage by replacing marketing with meaningful conversations, an art and science that can be applied online as well as offline.
Tentacle #6 – Sales Mastery
The face of sales has changed, and with more people avoiding this skill than ever, it is most probably one of the most important things you can learn in business. Sales the ability to help your ideal customer trust you as an expert. If you truly want to influence people positively in business (and life!) you want to learn how to put a good deal on the table and promote it in a stylish way.
Tentacle #7 – Customer Journey
It makes total sense to create fantastic experiences for your customers, but only if they fit into your target market. Gone are the days where you try to please everyone, so there really is no more reason to hang around with the wrong crowd. Understanding your customers’ challenges have never been easier, even to the point where you can now involve them in the creation of your products and services.
Tentacle #8 – Building System
People are surprised by our answer when asked how we can run successful international businesses and have an incredible lifestyle. We minimalise, systemise and automate as much of our processes as possible. Start thinking of your business as a living entity that should have the autonomy to exist without you in it. Ironically, your business will return the favour by giving you a more independent lifestyle.
The Head – Mind Mastery
I promised you an additional tip that relates to the brainy head of the Octopus. You need to master your mind. Many entrepreneurs who make it in business are also the ones who cope with life. Start tracking and managing your energy levels. Create space at the start and end of each day for you to focus on what is really important to you. Invest in your personal and professional resilience by constantly growing as an individual. This means you have to expose yourself more, associate yourself with people that you admire and get rid of unnecessary clutter in your business and life.
Let’s wrap it up with a final message from the royal Octopus, who has blue blood by the way. No doubt this creature is smart, but the Octopus also has three hearts. Nothing survive without love, and the same goes for you and your business. Love is not burning yourself
out or lying awake at midnight. Love is also not neglecting critical parts of your business like actively finding the right customers or avoiding sales. Start focusing on the right things, and
stop doing the wrong things right. You may just end up like the Paul the Octopus. Famous.