My son plays soccer for the St. Louis University Billikens men’s soccer team. He was an outstanding soccer player when he played for his academy team before being recruited by the Billikens. He was part of the U.S. U14 National Team. He got written up in papers, received accolades, and was selected for regional and international teams. All of that got him to being recruited by St. Louis, but when he got there, he didn’t get to play. When I asked this young man who had been a star in the eyes of so many, including me, why he was not playing his freshmen year, he said, “Dad the speed of play is so much faster here.” Instead of being the standout player who was recruited by a soccer program with an incredible history, he was like everyone else they had recruited that season. On top of that, there were players who had already been on the team and had learned the fast-paced play of top Division 1 soccer. If he wants to see playing time, my son has got to step up his game to play at this higher level.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely proud of my son, but his situation got me thinking about what he’s going through and how it applies in entrepreneurship too. It’s great if you and your business did well in the past. You might have won the businessman of the year award two years ago. Last year you might have had record sales.
But what you did in the past doesn’t matter when a new day starts.
You have to always be ready to step up your game. You have to stop depending on what you did before to allow constant reinvention of yourself. That’s the only way you’ll penetrate your market and re-establish yourself on an ever-changing playing field. There are people there today who either weren’t there yesterday or who don’t care what you did yesterday.
Today I was listening to the radio and hearing about the new Apple products. Every year, they’re coming out with something new; they’re reinventing themselves. Apple is pushing its digital photography and video. They’re incorporating video—even editing—into the smartphone. It’s a constant reinvention.
You cannot rest on your laurels. Things are changing too fast.
But change brings opportunity. Virgin Atlantic is experimenting with a space ship that flies at high altitude that will connect Europe and the US in 30 minutes. Our state of change is accelerating and it impacts our whole society. Sometimes things cycle back around, but they’re still changing.
We have to always think, “What’s the next act for me and my business? Where do I want to be 15-20 years out? How do I stay adaptable?”
As you look at all aspects of your business, your past success can be the biggest impediment to your future success.
How can that be? Because you tend to want to do what you already did. Eliminate the idea that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In fact, when things are going well, it is time to examine what can be done better. Compete against yourself to push you and your business to higher levels of performance. Don’t be held back by your fears.
Live your dreams, not your fears.