The bottom line is the clearest indicator of business success, and failure. But driving single-mindedly to complete a sale or attract a client can prevent even greater success from grabbing a toe-hold in business development.
A wise individual once shared an important truth that remains fundamental in business and many other pursuits. Look around along the way, because the journey is as important as the destination. Here's why:
Networking has never been more vital. As the methods to connect with people have grown exponentially with the pervasiveness of social media, there remain some fundamental truths that ought to be self-evident.
First impressions still matter, even in an era of "delete" and disappearing snapchats. As you encounter people, intentionally or otherwise, you never quite know who knows who, or how one connection might lead to another. That is as true in business as in social circles. Plus, the people you meet may reappear later in your business life, with new positions or business addresses that offer new possibilities for your business. And they tend to remember what they thought of you the first time around.
There are irrefutable ramifications for everything. Even the smallest stone dropped into a pond causes ripples that reverberate. The decisions you make will impact not only your business, your customers and their businesses or lives, but others you may not even know about, in ways you cannot even imagine.
Regardless, if they are attributable to you, good or bad, they are yours forever. What you choose to do in any given situation — and how you reach that decision — speaks volumes about your business acumen, know-how and ethics, and tends to have a very long shelf life. Decide with purpose, and with care.
In virtually every business encounter you have, there is something to be learned. What you take away from any situation — beginning with being fully alert to what is occurring — can make a difference not only in that particular circumstance, but in business opportunities or challenges for years to come.
The lessons you learn — or don't learn — can influence the course of your business, and the degree of success you achieve. The old adage about having two eyes, two ears and one mouth is more than a truism. Learning begins with listening, and there's much to be heard in the marketplace, which is not to say you need to believe everything you hear. Sifting through the clutter to elicit what's worth preserving is a lesson as well — one that can provide the foundation for continued advancement and growth.
When you least expect it, a business opportunity may present itself. You need to be ready to seize it productively. Diligent day-to-day efforts may reveal possibilities you hadn't considered previously, or suggest approaches that hadn't been in the original business plan but offer solid new pathways to profitability.
Sometimes things that can't be seen from afar become obvious upon closer scrutiny; the possibilities you uncover may be the missing link or the untapped potential that can propel your business.
Risk has been defined as the probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, loss or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and which may be avoided through preemptive action. That last phrase is key. Business success can often hinge on taking a well-timed, well-informed risk. The pre-emptive action that minimizes the prospect of harm is grounded in what you've picked up along the way. That's what makes taking chances considerably less chancy.
Indeed, the journey is as important as the destination. Because what you make of the journey may determine whether you reach your business destination at all, what you're able to accomplish if you do, and whether any successes you achieve can be sustained.
Bernard L. Kavaler is founding principal of Express Strategies, a Hartford-based strategic communications and public policy consulting business. Reach him through the firm's website at www.express-strategies.com.