* Per one report, during the Startup Awards, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shared the statistic of approximately 80,000 business startups failing annually.
The Currency of Branding
“Is it necessary?” is a question often asked when creating or improving anything in business.
When innovating or challenging the status quo, it’s important to know there are two camps at work: those who manage “past results” and those who manage “future outcomes.”
Questions like “Isn’t this good enough?”, “Can’t we get along with just this much?” and “How high is ‘high enough’?” are endlessly debated over.
- Is it the founder with vision? No.
- Is it the CEO who has passion? No.
- Is it the one who wishes to leave their “ding in the universe”? No.
Who’s asking “How much is enough?”
It’s the bean counter. Those whose focus is on managing and controlling financial (and other existing) resources. That person is doing their job.
Who is Managing What?
So when anyone asks “Is it necessary?” — there is one thing you can do to make the conversation actually productive.
Add the few missing words (shown in bold italic) that make the question actually useful: “Is this (fill in the proposed action) necessary to achieve the level of impact, inspiration and differentiation that will make anybody give a damn about what we’re doing and the value we bring?”
CFOs and accounting personnel manage what they know and see. Those are the resources and currency they manage.
This is different from what founders, entrepreneurs or innovators “manage.” The currency they manage? The future (something they see as clearly as the balance sheet seen on the desks of accounting personnel).
Two such examples of leaders who use the future as their “currency” are Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs. Richard Branson stated, “”Unless you dream, you’re not going to achieve anything,” and one of Steve Jobs’ favorite quotes was Wayne Gretsky’s, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
Hence, the “balance sheets” between these two types are very different.
- Financial folks manage funds and the short term that they can calculate and see.
- Founders, dreamers, and innovators manage impact, enthusiasm and the long term they can calculate and see. (Read this story on one Napa Valley dreamer, or this startup in Austin Texas, or these entrepreneurs in Jersey.)
People oriented like a Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson manage dreams and inspirations while turning items or services previously thought of as luxuries into must-haves that the public will clamor for. As a result, the “bean counters” eventually become very happy.
Two Kinds of Brands:
Which One are You?
There are two kinds of brands in the world: Reaction brands and Initiative brands.
- Initiative brands break new ground and do things because of their own internal restless passion for something.
- Reaction brands simply follow someone else’s lead.
Want an example? The iPad vs. the original Surface tablet.
The iPad was an Initiative Brand, born out of a pursuit for a new experience and a passion for restless dissatisfaction with the status quo.
The Surface tablet? That was a reaction-product to “enter the tablet market” (like the ill-fated Zune before it which was Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, a lesson about product development they didn’t learn from.)
How to Lead in a
World of Followers
You can’t lead with beans. You can only lead with dreams that, managed well, turn into more beans than you can count.
In other words, dreams cause things to happen. While beans help keep the fire lit, it’s dreams that cause the spark in the first place.
Want more fire? Start starting. Stop stopping.
And dream on.