Shark Tank Preparation

What is the number one reason given for sharks rejection of an investment opportunity?

“Your valuation is ridiculous!”

Too many entrepreneurs go into the tank without anywhere near enough preparation. They get excited by the opportunity, but either don’t want to do their homework, or they just don’t know how.

Preparing an investment pitch is completely different to preparing a sales pitch. You could have a great track record in your sales. You know your product, you know how to speak to your customers, and you know how your product meets their needs.

But do you know what your competition is doing? Do you know what the Sharks could gain from this investment? Have you identified the ideal investor for your business? Do you even have a plan for what you’d do with the money they invest?

The incredible thing is that these questions should be considered whether you’re looking for an investor or not.

Every day you turn up, you’re investing in your business. Every cent you spend on growing your business is an investment – and you should be thinking about these things now!

You can’t make a reasonable valuation on your business if you don’t understand these three key things:

  1. Sales
  2. Competition
  3. Risks

I’ve given a quick description here on why these things are so critical to your business.

Understanding Sales

This isn’t about understanding how to sell, but about how well you’re selling. The most obvious number is revenue – how much your customers have paid you each month and each year. But you also need to think about Cost – how much did it cost you to produce and deliver the product (or service) that has been sold on to your customers? This is the number one goal of operations managers – reduce the cost of sales!

You also want to have a consistent track record of increasing sales – and a good understanding of why sales dipped if they ever did. Keep in mind that no investor will put their money in because you’ve had “good feedback” from the market. They want to see commitments, actual sales and actual contracts. You can’t value your business based on what you think you’ll be doing in the future – you’re offering a stake of what you’re already doing. Get the sales contract signed before you ask for the investment, and you can legitimately increase your valuation based on this actual asset.

Finally, you’ll want to understand the effect of advertising and promotional work – how much does it cost to generate new business with your current marketing activity, and which marketing channels are providing the best value for your business?

Understanding Competition

Of course, you’re the only one operating in your space, and nobody does what you do. You’re completely unique in the world, and there’s no way anyone could possibly compete with you. Even if this is true, you’re still in competition – for the “wallet share” of your customer’s spending money.

Every business has competition, every product has an alternative, and every service has a different option available. If you can’t understand what your customers will base their choices on, you won’t even know what you’re competing with! Ask your customers (especially your repeat customers) – “Why do you choose us?”. You could even go as far as asking what they’d do if they couldn’t access your products – but try not to inspire them too much, you want to keep their business!

Understanding Risk

Do you have patents for your products or services? Can you even get a patent for what you are doing or providing? Are you dependent on a specific provider or manufacturer that could change the rules (and costs) at any time? Is your market a fad, or is there a serious threat of disruption in your current industry (other than yourself of course)?

Do you have positive cash flow, and can you accurately predict your own success? Will you continue to grow without the investment, or are you dependent on this injection of cash to stay solvent?

And how much risk do you yourself represent? Can you demonstrate a high enough level of commitment to the venture – so much so that someone would be willing to entrust their money to you in a reasonable expectation that you can return on that investment?

And don’t be too conservative here – remember that there is always opportunity cost with any investor. If they can get a better return by purchasing shares or increasing their investment in one of their other projects, why would they put that money into your venture?

Asking for a smaller sum allows the investors to take on greater risks, but nobody wants to throw their money away. And offering too little a return will turn everyone off your proposal. Find that sweet spot where everyone wins, and you’ll find that you’ve created real competition for the investment, and you can then direct your energy towards getting the best deal for your business and for yourself.

Understanding Investment

The bottom line is that you have to consider your investment in your business from a wide range of angles before you can make a decision – and so does any other potential investor! These three areas listed are just the tip of the iceberg, but they constitute some of the most critical things that entrepreneurs seem to neglect when they’re addressing the sharks.

For yourself, start thinking more like a shark in your own business. Look for weaknesses you’d exploit, and find ways to resolve them. Look for opportunities that aren’t being taken and invest to take advantage of them. Don’t waste your time wishing for your projections to come true – get out there and make it happen!

If you’re serious about building your business through investment of any kind, get in touch with me today – I may be able to spot some areas that you could understand better and even improve before you spend that time and money.

Walking Cat Posters

I was recently discussing with a client why they had agreed to work with me, and they said something that stuck with me. He said “You’re not like the other business coaches I’ve met – you’re not just a walking ‘Cat Poster’. You actually get alongside us and understand our work and our industry”.

I love getting feedback from clients on what’s working for them, but this phrase has stuck in my mind for the last couple of weeks. I think one of the major issues we have in the business coaching and consulting industry is that there is a lot of unqualified “fluff” that gets presented. It’s even worse when you look at coaching in general – you have people marketing themselves as “life coaches” when they’ve not even reached a quarter of their expected life span.

It’s been a long held frustration of mine – so much so that I actively avoid referring to my business as coaching, even though there is a large element of my work that is focused on training and challenging the mindset and thinking of business owners to elevate their vision to reach that “next level” that everyone seems to be obsessed with.

The thing is, for me it’s not just something I read in a book and agree with. I’ve spent the time developing my mindset and skills working in businesses, going through transformation and change. I’ve worked with managers and owners on strategic plans, and actually had to implement them. I’ve dealt with the pain and frustration when communication is broken down, and people are walking. And I’ve turned situations around and brought unity and vision back into environments that desperately needed it.

If I was ever to use a phrase as corny as “If you can Dream it You can Achieve it”, it’d be true – because I’d follow up with a planning session where we map out the specific actions required to get from where we are to where we wish we were.

Mindset and motivation are critically important for anyone who wants to make a change, but most business owners I work with don’t have an issue with drive. It’s usually an issue of perspective, communication, and planning. They don’t understand that other people don’t think like them – so they need help seeing from their team’s perspective. They get upset that people don’t “get it” – so they need help explaining their position and their goals in ways that make sense. And often they want to “just do it” – so they need help breaking their goal out into actionable steps that are realistic and achievable.

So yes, I am a business coach – just not like the ones you’ve seen before.

If you know someone who could use some assistance in these areas, pass this on and encourage them to get in touch with me. I’d love to help you make a difference in the way your business operates.

Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries

In a previous article How to Manage Anything we discussed the triple constraints TIME, COST and QUALITY. If you haven’t read that one yet, it’s best to go do so now – this article assumes some context, and is best understood as something of a part 2.

When you manage to these constraints, it’s possible to get an unwarranted sense of success. You can leverage the Variable to improve the KPI, but what happens when you go too far?

In our previous example, a customer onboarding process was to be improved by accepting COST increases if there was an increase in QUALITY, and the TIME would not exceed one week. But would you pay to fly your customer to head office to have a lunch with the CEO if the customer’s expected lifetime value (LTV) was only a few thousand dollars? It would certainly meet the requirements of improving quality, and could be achieved within the time constraint in many situations, but it’s a bad idea. This is obvious when you add those details in – but what if the LTV for this customer was several million dollars? What if this account was one of only 3 major accounts in the business? In this case the cost is justified. But the things that changed were outside the process – it’s all about context.

Boundaries

This is where we introduce the concept of Boundaries. Think of them as hard limits for your management, a fenced off area within which you can be free to operate. Each of the Triple Constraints have their own characteristics, and you’ll want to understand when setting out what boundaries you’ll use within your business. Boundaries are needed to ensure that the variable isn’t abused. Following the law of diminishing returns, you’ll understand that initial improvements will have a large impact, but pushing past a certain point is likely to cost more than it’s worth in whichever of the constraints you’re trying to leverage. Here I’ve outlined some problems you can encounter when using each of the Triple Constraints as the variable.

TIME Boundaries

Regardless of how you prioritize, time is always going to be important to the customer. In many service businesses, there is a provision within the contract identifying a hard limit on how long things can take, after which there are penalties applied where the service provider needs to compensate the client. For example, if you’re paying for internet access, you expect to have a working internet connection 24/7/365. The reality is that there will be outages, so your provider will have covered themselves by allowing that they’ll provide internet access MOST of the time (e.g. 99%). This would mean that you could be without your internet for 20 minutes a day every day for the whole year, and they’d be OK with that. This is a clear time boundary – exceeding this is simply not acceptable.

For our customer onboarding process, even if we decided that TIME was the variable and we’d accept a longer TIME if it reduced COST and improved QUALITY, there is a limit to what our customers will accept. They expect to start using our product or service, and if we run them through a 9 month training program to get started on something they expect to use for 10 minutes a month, I’d expect we won’t do so well. However, if we’re providing a highly specialised service that has cost them a significant sum, and for which they’re employing several full time employees to utilise, a 9 month training program could start to become reasonable.

COST Boundaries

For every product and service, there are expectations around what things should cost. To be clear, we’re not talking about pricing here – that’s another article altogether. COST here refers to the money required for the business to provide a product or service. It should cover staff wages, supplier costs, transport and any other ancillary costs. If you can tie any expenditure to the delivery of a product or service, you should consider it in your costs. Remember – this is all in the context of management, not accounting, bookkeeping or any kind of financial advice. When COST is the variable, all kinds of bad decisions can be justified (or at least argued for). It’s vital that boundaries are clear for any manager who is using COST as the lever for improving processes.

We’ve already given an example on how the COST constraint can be abused without an appropriate boundary using our Customer Onboarding scenario. As in all things, you need to weigh the cost against the value, but setting a COST boundary should be straightforward if you have a clear understanding of your margins and the overall cost of delivering your product or service. If you’re unsure, assume your boundary is too liberal and tighten it up. But honestly, the best thing you can do for your business is understand your costs – if you’re not 100% clear on this you are almost guaranteed to fail.

QUALITY Boundaries

Quality can sometimes seem a bit abstract, but in most cases there is a clear standard that is measurable. Using QUALITY as a variable can look incredible in regards to how quickly and cheaply we can deliver, but at some point you’ll experience customer attrition, as they will find other ways to get what they want at a much higher standard – it’s possible to even breach your own terms of service if you aren’t able to maintain the boundary here.

Using our Customer Onboarding scenario, if we accept QUALITY as our variable, we will focus on getting our customers onboarded as quickly and cheaply as possible. The risk here is that our customers will not have enough understanding to utilize our products or services. When the QUALITY of onboarding is perfect, all our customers will use and refer all of our products and services that suit their business. When it’s completely inadequate, we will see customers leaving within days or weeks of purchasing, they’ll leave negative reviews, and ask for refunds because they can’t do what they expected to do with our product or service. You should be focused on customer retention and feedback when using QUALITY as your variable. Set a hard limit on how often you’re willing to respond to complaints, provide refunds, or offer free training. If those things are happening more than you’re willing to accept, you need to improve the quality again – even at the cost of your KPI.

It’s all about Context

What you can take out of this is that context is everything. The Triple Constraints should be reasonably balanced, and pushing one to an extreme will limit your success. Setting clear boundaries for these constraints is vital, as breaching any one could destroy your reputation or your business. If you’re unable to deliver the product or service within the boundaries you’ve identified, you need to remove that product or service from your offering before it ruins you.

Stars and Stones

Stars and Stones

In every team you’ll have stars, who overachieve and improve the performance of your whole team. You’ll also have stones, who struggle to meet the minimum performance goals you’ve set for them, and who drag the team back. Managing these individuals is critical to maintaining and improving your department’s performance. As always measurement is vital, but when it comes to this kind of people management there are other intangibles to consider. If your stones are not meeting minimum performance requirements, you’ll need to manage that directly – work with them to ensure they’re trained and capable of meeting the standards you’ve set. If they can’t do the job, you’ll need to move them on – possibly to a different role, possibly out of the company altogether.

But if your stones are meeting the minimum requirements, they need a different focus. I recommend looking at how your team interacts. If your stones are bringing energy to the team, improving morale with their attitude and engagement, then you can accept their performance as long as it meets the minimum standards. They don’t need to outperform on your targets if they’re making your other staff enjoy coming in to work.

Your stars need to be challenged, and they need to feel like they’re both being recognized and that there is an opportunity to advance. They don’t outperform because they like you. They’re telling you they want more. Give them responsibility for documentation and training, to help your whole team gain the benefit of their experience and wisdom. Ask them to help you find ways to improve performance on areas that you’re struggling to improve. And make sure you’re thinking about what’s next for them – it’s possible they love the role they’re in, but it’s likely they’re already planning to move on. If you want to keep them, you need to have a plan of your own that will capture their interest.

In all situations, it’s vital to keep in mind that each person is completely unique. Treat each individual with respect and give them enough time to understand what they would like to achieve and what they’re working for.

How to Manage Anything

Sometimes I get asked how I can help people in industries and market areas in which I have no direct experience. The answer to this is surprisingly simple. I don’t need to have the expertise in a particular area to teach and assist in the management of that area, because management has nothing to do with technical ability.

The Management Mindset

business-process-modelling-1

Managing anything relies on one thing above everything else – the ability to “see” the process. What I mean by this is that you need to be able to think about things in terms of how something starts (inputs), how something is finished (outputs), and what happens between the start and finish (process). You don’t need to be able to DO the process, but you have to understand what the process looks like.

How to Measure

measurement_2_w10242

My training and experience as a project manager put rather concrete terms around measurement. In project management it’s the Triple Constraint: TIME, COST and QUALITY. In IT, there’s an old adage when building a system or selecting a vendor – “Fast, Cheap or Reliable: pick any two”. When you’re managing a business, and you’ve identified the key processes that you need to improve, you then need to measure your current performance. It’s important to get a good measurement on all three numbers, because otherwise it’s too easy to sacrifice something that’s important without realizing it.

Accuracy is important, but consistency is vital. Even if you’re only 80% confident the numbers you’ve produced are correct, you need to use the same methods to measure when you’re judging improvement as you did when you first looked at the “current performance” numbers. You can change the way you measure if you find a more accurate method, but when you do you’re essentially re-starting the whole improvement process, so think carefully about when you want to implement the new methods.

How to Manage

Manage

Once you have a good picture of your current performance, you can then start setting targets. Depending on the culture you’re working within, you could set improvement targets anywhere from 10% right through to 10x. But which areas are you going to work on?

The best method I’ve come across is to simply rank the three measurements. Often this needs to be done from a top level, rather than per-process, but you’ll usually find that there is a focus within your team already – you’ll want to make sure that you’re aligned and working towards the same goals here, otherwise you have some culture work to do. When you rank the three measurements in terms of importance, you will have one which is your key performance indicator (KPI), one which is your minimum requirement, and one which is your variable.

For example, you may have a client onboarding process that you need to manage. You will decide that the onboarding experience is vital to the long-term health of the business, and will set QUALITY as your key performance indicator. You’ll then look at TIME and COST. There will be an industry standard for how long things take to get moving, let’s say it’s usually a week. This is your minimum requirement for TIME. Your variable is COST. So you will accept a higher COST to ensure a higher QUALITY, provided you can still hit your minimum TIME requirement. You would not accept a higher COST to deliver faster (TIME) unless you weren’t able to hit the one week minimum requirement.

Each of these measurements can fall into any one of the categories, and although it’s common for a company to have a standard, often there will be some processes that will have their own prioritization.

It’s also important to understand that categorizing these measurements doesn’t mean that you have unlimited freedom – there are minimums and maximums that will apply to all areas. Setting and working within these boundaries is critical, have a look at the upcoming post on Setting Boundaries to see more on this.

How to Improve

time to improve.jpg

When it comes to actually achieving those targets, it’s all down to the people on the job. As the manager, you need to understand their constraints and concerns – what do they need to hit the targets you’ve set? Then you need to work together to identify steps in the process that are inefficient, or not required at all.

If you have an improvement budget, use that for training or for one-off costs to improve your key performance indicator. Make sure your budget considers both time and money – pulling your team away from their core responsibility for a day of training costs more than just the invoiced amount, otherwise you’re paying staff not to work in the hopes that they’ll be better equipped to perform in the future. Ask your team about what tools they’d need to perform at a higher level, or what jobs could be automated. Do your own research, speak to your vendors and their competitors, find out what others are doing in your space.

If you don’t have an improvement budget, start by looking at how your team is already performing. For every job or process they do, you will have someone on your team who simply does it better. Get them to document and train the rest of the team in that process.

Improvement is an ongoing concern, you’ll never have everything perfect. Look at your numbers, and identify where you’re seeing the biggest variance – that’s an opportunity. Look for where you are repeatedly spending the most time – even small improvements there can make a huge difference overall.

Set challenges for your team, and reward success. Recognize individual improvement as well as overall team performance. When they hit your targets, be ready with another challenge. If your team are losing motivation, let them choose their next challenge from a shortlist you’ve already prepared.

Myths: Manager vs Leader

For a while I would see regular posts, infographic style images, and other comments talking about how Leaders were better than Managers. Sometimes they would use different language (Boss vs. Leader), but in all cases there was this opposition created where you’d have a supportive, encouraging person on one side (the “leader”), and on the other side you’d have someone who was less involved, who was more directive and disciplinarian (the “boss” or “manager”).

Difference-Between-Boss-and-Leader.jpg

You remember this picture right?

I probably spent too much time reading those articles, because it was clear from the start that there was a false dichotomy being set up. Disgruntled employees would like and share posts to validate their feeling of being poorly treated. Newly minted managers (who are rarely given much support or guidance in many organisations) would read the articles and panic that they were not “hands on” enough, and often wind up being just another contributor without providing the direction and feedback that they were employed to bring.

The truth is that we need both leaders and managers in our businesses, and vilifying one role does no benefit to anyone. In a well structured business, there are several roles that should be filled (sometimes by one person, but the role is always distinct).

The Visionary

A good business will usually start with a visionary who provides direction – someone who sees what could be and is able to inspire others to put in the work to make it happen. This role is extremely entrepreneurial, and requires a lot of creative freedom. There needs to be space given for researching market and industry trends, time discussing the problems and felt needs of existing customers, and looking for new and exciting ways to partner with others outside the core area of business.

The Operator

Unfortunately the visionary isn’t always the best at getting things done. This is where the operator comes in. A good business always has a senior position filled by someone who gets the businesses products and services. They are passionate about understanding how things work, why they work, and how they can become even more efficient. Although this role is often “in the trenches” with the team, they also need to challenge the team to perform at a higher standard. The best operators are smart and lazy – they are always looking for things that can be done with less work and less time, using tools, technology and automation, as well as cutting out things that are wasted effort.

The Promise Keeper

The Visionary seems to always want to be trying new things, and the Operator seems to be wanting to do things in new ways – but the Promise Keeper just wants to make sure the customers get what they expect. A well organized business will always have someone in a senior role who is there to protect the reputation and the brand of the company. Someone who makes sure that the public image of the business is positive, and that customers are getting what they’re paying for. They’re often the ones who are out there selling, making promises to people that they fervently hope the business will uphold. This role often gets a bad rap from inside the business, because they are usually the ones holding back change, challenging new methods and generally trying to keep things the way they were. What exacerbates this is that this role is usually filled by the least technical member, who spends the least time “in the trenches” actually delivering the products or services.

Good Business

A good business will include each of these three roles, and will validate the work done in each area. So next time you read one of those articles suggesting that bosses and managers are the source of all evil in your company, try to take a step back and think about how necessary those roles are, and what the motivation is for the people who need to fill them.

How do you see this in your own business? Do you have all three of these roles filled? Did I miss another critical role? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Referral Networking

I’m not what you’d call a natural sales person. I present well enough, and I’m confident and well spoken, but there’s something that top sales people have that I seem to be missing. Maybe it’s something that will come with experience.

When I  started Strategic Ventures, I had grand ideas of how I would be working with lots of different people in their businesses, driving change and improvement, making things clearer and more efficient. But the early stages of my business have conspired to put me into a deeper sales role than I’ve experienced before. So I did what I do – I started researching, reading and asking questions of people who have succeeded where I’m learning.

One thing that came up fairly consistently was the use of business networks – particularly referral networks like BNI. Although I’d had some understanding of what it was, I’d never attended a networking event like this until recently when I was invited by my local BNI chapter president to visit and see how it all works.

Watching 30(ish) business owners talking about their business, their ideal clients and their successful referrals was interesting, but what fascinated me was the relationships that had clearly been built over time in the group. In my research, I’d found several articles which had a rather negative view on BNI and similar referral networking groups, with a running theme of “They demand too much time, and don’t ensure quality referrals” and “You don’t get any access to high end decision makers which we need for our business”. One article in particular pointed out that the only successful referral network the author had been involved in was built on long term relationships without forced quotas. But I wonder if maybe the author missed the point. Too much focus on the referral quotas, and not enough time spent building real relationships. Maybe those referrals he was looking for were available in the group, but weren’t being given due to a lack of trust. There’s a reputational risk involved in referrals and introductions – if they don’t work out well the relationship can be damaged.

I’m still checking out some other groups and systems to see if I can find one that suits my business, but I have to say that even with the one visit I was able to sharpen my own focus on how I present what Strategic Ventures does, and who we’d love to do it for. I also got to meet some great people who work in all kinds of related fields that I can (and will) be able to refer business on to.

I’d love to hear about your experience with referral networks and business networking groups. Leave a comment below and tell us what you learned when you visited for the first time.

Applied Learning

My daughter recently started in an advanced literacy class in her primary school – and I love the fact that one of the first things they did was to hand out workbooks for each child. These books were to be used for reflection on the stories they read – from Tom Sawyer to the Jungle Book, there are opportunities for learning available. But the thing is that we don’t learn the lesson from reading the book.

We learn the lesson by taking the story in, and considering how we would behave in similar situations. We learn by looking at similarities and differences to our own life. We look for words and concepts we don’t understand and attempt to extend our vocabulary and comprehension. We practice using these new thoughts and concepts to communicate with one another, learning as we go.

It’s easy to think that we are learning as we gain experience, but the truth is very often the opposite. Instead of being able to identify new and creative solutions based on our experience, we too easily mis-identify situations and problems as being the same as what we’ve seen before. We jump to conclusions and allow our biases to prevent us from thinking things through in any detail.

In your business practice, you will come across new situations that seem familiar, but if you haven’t taken the time to reflect on and absorb the lessons along the way, it’s likely that you will wind up missing out on some great opportunities.

What is the number one habit you have in your life to reflect, learn and grow?

How Much Did That Cost?

It’s always been somehow impolite to talk about money in most of the circles I mixed in growing up. But even then there was a cost awareness that crept into the conversation. People wouldn’t directly ask about things like that, but they’d come in from a side angle “where did you get that from?”

This cost awareness is deeply ingrained in all of us. In every case, we look for the ways to achieve our goals with the minimum expense. The biggest problem is that we often don’t think about how to manage our resources, or even which resources we are choosing to prioritize.

Think about one of those mobile games everyone gets sucked into. They always have two kinds of resource – the “gold” and the “gems” or something like that. You know you’ll always be able to get more gold easily, but the gems are hard to come by. And those gems are the ones that you’re tempted to go spending money on – even though you know you’re going to delete the game in a few weeks anyway. We get that concept immediately.

Scarcity teaches us what to value.

If you grew up playing games in the 90’s, you may remember something of a strategy game boom period. We saw games like Age of Empires, Alpha Centauri and Civilization. In these games, we managed multiple types of resource and would easily switch focus to the resources that we needed to unlock a new technology, to move past whatever was holding us back from advancing in our quest for world domination.

Strategy teaches us what to pursue.

Life isn’t so different from these games. In fact, these games can be a powerful tool for learning if we take the time to apply the lessons. But applied learning is another post altogether. The lesson we can take from these games is to be particular about what we pursue – things that are valuable for our cause as well as for their scarcity.

There’s this wonderful model raised in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which is simply two circles one within the other. They’re called the circle of concern, and the circle of influence.

circle-of-influence-circle-of-concern

This model is used to help people understand that there are some things they care about, but which are outside of their control. In this case we have very limited influence on scarcity (there will always be competitors offering similar products and services that you offer), but we can control the strategy.

Scarcity is often in our circle of concern, but Strategy is always in our circle of influence.

What this means for us is that our cost controls – especially in small, growing businesses – need to be focused first on strategy. This is more than just thinking about how you “spend” your time (although that’s also part of it). This is primarily about how we plan our strategy to pursue our organizational goals and objectives.

Measure twice, cut once.

One difference between these games and our personal and business lives is that the games limit our options, and display (prominently) exactly what we have, and what we need. It’s easy to develop a strategy when your options are limited. Play Noughts and Crosses for 10m and let me know if you’re able to work that one out. But as more options are made available to us, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the best course of action – or even to get a clear picture of your current position. Watch a few games of grandmaster level chess, and compare that to your noughts and crosses session.

The point of this is that it’s vital for your success that you get a good sense of measurement – both what you currently have and what’s available to you with some effort. You can use this to develop a limited set of strategies that you can implement – go-to choices that enable you to make well considered decisions in a moment. Develop real plans around how you will break into that new vertical, or how you will make use of the new social platform to connect with new and existing customers. Allocate those resources you have to those plans so you know what it will cost you to execute on them. How much time do you need to put in to start seeing results? How does that change when you bring in a 3rd party or delegate some responsibility to your team? Can you call in favours, and is it the best option to do so for this opportunity?

The best part of this kind of planning is that once you’re prepared, you can take advantage of those moments that come up. And you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere, because you now know what they look like.

Planning out how you will manage your resources is key to victory in many games. Planning out how you will manage your resources is key to success in life.

Learn from the game you love the most, and figure out how to apply that to your business, your investing, and your personal success.

What game have you learnt the most about life from? Add a comment below and let us know what the lesson was for you.

Be inspired. Be inspiring.

There are a lot of different points of view out there about how life began. The prevailing thought today is that life began billions of years ago through a random combination of chemicals followed by a sequence of events that resulted in a physical universe, with organisms that developed into something like you.

Other thoughts we’ve held to across our history tend towards life being created by a supreme being, a god who had some intention for creation. In some of these stories, the creator god stayed invested in this creation, in others the god just got bored or something and isn’t really interested in us any more.

You are unique

The most important part of this is of course that you are alive today. How life began, when and where it happened – none of that changes the fact that you DO exist here and now.

And you are incredibly fortunate to be who you are. You are unique in the universe. And even the person who is actually the least fortunate, your very existence as a human being in the 21st century is a privilege that is truly astounding when you stop to think about the alternatives.

You have access

And if you’re reading this article, it’s because you are even more fortunate again. You have access to a world of information. You can communicate with people across the planet, and you can learn from people who inspire you in ways that we would have only dreamed of in years gone by.

You have opportunities

There are so many opportunities today that we just take for granted. Opportunities to create meaningful connections, to learn and to grow. Opportunities to create art, to build understanding, and to establish a foundation that will serve our children into the future.

Sometimes we worry that if we share our good ideas, someone else will get the benefit and we’ll miss out. The truth is more often that when you share your good idea, you will become more motivated to take action on it, and you’ll have someone out there who will ask you about how you’re progressing. Most of the time, our good ideas aren’t even that good yet. We need to work on them, build them up, and bounce them around with someone else to gain perspective. By sharing your idea, you will be the one taking advantage.

So get excited

Today, I would challenge you to identify at least two things you can be grateful for in your own life – anything from the fact of your existence today to a brand new idea or thought of an opportunity you could pursue. Then I want you to share your joy with someone else. Give it as much as you can – because joy shared is doubled. Be inspired. Be inspiring.