It is actually good business practice for a busy
entrepreneur to take some time, ideally every day, to relax and do something
that has nothing to do with business.
The paradox is that you often find that such activity gives
a new angle on business.
For example, your contributor recently escaped the recession
for a few hours by reading a history of British
Frigate Captains of the Napoleonic Wars. Many of the fictional exploits of
the likes of Jack Aubrey,
& co are actually based on real historical events. Indeed the facts are
often so incredible that no novelist would dare to make them up.
More to the point, naval officers of this period were also
businessmen: they were entitled to a substantial share of the value of the
ships they captured, and the most successful became very wealthy indeed.
The reasons for their success are just as valid today.
1 Audacity. A Frigate Captain accepted that
attacking an enemy ship that was nominally stronger was the path to fame and
fortune. Far from avoiding superior foes, he would seek them out. An entrepreneur achieves extraordinary rewards
because he takes extraordinary risks. His willingness to do what most people
would not do is what sets him apart.
2 Planning. Small boarding parties often
captured ships with much larger crews – because they were briefed thoroughly
beforehand: every man among the attackers knew exactly what he was supposed to
be doing while there was confusion among the defenders. The same is true in the
marketplace: success depends on knowing what is going on and being prepared for
3 Technology. Better technology can give a
big competitive advantage, but is not necessarily the decisive factor. It all
depends on how you use it. The British made better guns but the French actually
made better ships - so the British used their guns to acquire as many French
ships as they could.
4 Professionalism. Most British Captains
were experienced sailors who trained their crews rigorously, so that, when it
came to combat, their handling of their ships and their guns was superior to
their opponents’. Their hard work in preparing for battle meant that they won
their battles before they fought. In business, there is simply no substitute
for training and practice. You will make money if you are good at whatever it
is you do.
(However, we need to add a caveat: in this over-credentialed
world it is still necessary to have an underlying talent. It is quite possible
to get a qualification for something you are no good at. So, though training is
a great plus, training without underlying talent is just a waste of time and
5 Initiative. Victory usually goes to the
side that seizes and maintains the initiative. In particular, fighting seamen
put a high premium on having the wind on their side, so that they can choose
when and where to attack. In the same way, those who wait for opportunity to
come knocking will wait in vain. Success belongs to those who choose the right
moment – and seize it.