Success is a Choice, Not Something That Happens

Success is a Choice, Not Something That Happens

What is success? Is success a choice? In reality success — which often comes in the form of growth — is not a choice.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

Success is a subjective term. How it’s defined – as well as achieved – will vary considerably. For an individual, it’s based on personal motivations and objectives. A bigger paycheck. A larger home. One would hope, some level of philanthropy. And, of course, it is financial security that enables all of these things. Oftentimes, personal success is measured simply by the ability to do more.

Businesses are no different. As a business owner, you measure success by setting goals, monitoring progress and marking achievements. And, much the same as individual success, businesses measure their success in their ability to do more. Achieving goals means repaying shareholders, investing in new ventures and maintaining insulation from market fluctuations.

For individuals and businesses, success can be whatever you choose it to be, but it unequivocally means forward progression.

But is success a choice? Some would say yes. Individuals and businesses can choose to do the same things over and over, and maintain a certain level of viability. We call that self-sustainment. And, for many businesses, the choice to do nothing is easy. Many business owners have no one else to whom they report back on progressive performance – no board of directors governing the decision-making process, no anxious shareholders demanding a quarterly earnings report.

In reality, though, success (often in the form of growth) is not a choice. Achieving success is fundamental to the survivability, viability and relevance of a business. Without success – and the benefits that come from achieving goals and growth – businesses won’t have the resources to remain competitive or relevant. Your success, or lack thereof, affects not only your bottom line, but that of your employees, customers and partners. The decisions you make on products, services, messaging and growth investments tie back to the strategic path you set for your business.

Surprisingly, a large number of business owners and operators don’t look very far. In fact, despite an endless supply of examples of companies that have shown why it’s critical to run a business strategically instead of reactively, there still remains too many that insist of taking it one quarter at a time. Worse, some businesses will pray that the next quarter will surge to make up for previous quarters’ shortfalls. Such businesses are called, under the best of circumstances, opportunistic and wishful.

In the channel, an alarming number of solution providers reported not knowing if they even have a growth strategy. According to our research, 47 percent of solution providers do not have a strategic plan for growth; even those who say they have a plan are not setting strategic business objectives for their companies. Four out of 10 solution providers are not setting goals for their sales teams at all. And even most of those who claim they have some growth aspiration do not have a complete strategy in place to execute on.

This reflects a lack of focus on planning, execution and information dissemination. If there is no vision or shared plan for growth, there is a lower probability of success. Such lack of organization not only effects the internal practices of a company, but also the ecosystem that company participates in. If a solution provider isn’t growing, it’s holding back the performance of its vendor and peer partners. It can result in a domino effect of failure by way of missed sales opportunities, poor services and insufficient support.

The absence of a plan turns what should be effective projecting into a guessing game. It came as no surprise earlier this year when our research found that the majority of solution providers had decreased their growth expectations for 2014. In 2012, the acceptable rate of growth in the channel was 16 percent to 25 percent. In 2013, the same measure had been reset from 11 percent to 15 percent. This phenomenon is manifested in companies that run their business on a quarter-to-quarter basis. To keep up with daily operations, they lose sight of the long-term goals that drive the value needed to sustain more strategic objectives. As a result, solution providers are always playing catch-up.

While there’s no doubt immediate opportunities are important, future investment shouldn’t suffer. New products or services, focus on business models, sales and marketing initiatives all require sound investment and constant attention. To properly plan for success, one must suitably plan well beyond tomorrow.

Success is a choice. Growth is an imperative. Is your plan designed to take your business to the next level?

dianaDiana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.