Definitions are always a good place to start. What is awareness?
Awareness- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (Oxford Dictionary)
People attribute business success to many factors, but I think we might be inclined to think that those with three Cs succeed:
- Charisma- They have the “it” or “woo” factor.
- Capital- They have the money to make their dreams a reality.
- Company- They have the right people around them to promote them.
When businesses fail, we’ve heard that the majority fail in the first five years due to lack of finances. Interestingly, that’s the number two reason, according to Forbes (2017), with the number one reason being that the product or service that the person put on the market did not meet the market’s need. Interesting, huh?
Certainly having charisma, capital, and being in the right company help, but if you have all these advantages yet lack awareness of yourself and your market, you could still end up falling into the large category of businesses that fail because they didn’t meet their market’s needs.
Couldn’t we say that lack of awareness is at the crux of the failure to meet the market’s needs?
Awareness is needed through all seasons of business. Perhaps a person started with lots of awareness of the market and tons of solutions to boot, but times, technology, and needs change. Hence, the way a business runs, the team it acquires, and and the services and products it offers must evolve. Continuous awareness.
The third reason businesses fail is they don’t find the right team (CB Insights, 2019). Awareness of one’s personal strengths and weaknesses, awareness of the skillsets of others, or the awareness to foresee the consequences of keeping the wrong team players onboard all play into why business owners may not have the right team players. Typing that just made me flashback to the first time I had to fire someone. It was horrible. Like I was sick to my stomach. But the thought that made me more sick was what was going to happen in my company if I ignored my own awareness and the lack of awareness this person had about the effects of her actions on the organization.
We see the consequences of the lack of awareness in business on a daily basis: the person who posts WAY too much stuff on their personal or business social pages; the person who you don’t hear from except when they are trying to sell something; the business with zero personality; products that are a dime a dozen and have no stand-out factor in the market yet they are heavily pushed on the market; a company thinking that lowering their prices will move their products, when the real issue is the brand’s messaging hasn’t adequately communicated a value worth the pricetag no matter what it is.
It is certainly easier to look at others’ lack of self-awareness or market awareness, but it is more important to always be examining our own.
What do you plain suck at doing? For me, it’s paper organization. In college, people saw I had systems for everything- studying, test-taking, and putting my research together were areas I shined like a superstar. BUT, for the love of anything you hold dear, I prayed you would not ask me to borrow my awesomely bulleted notes, because the second I tore my notes out of my spiral notebook, they’d be lost forever. You would return them to me, and they would never again make their way back into my notebooks (which is why I kept spirals). I’ve tried every paper system under the sun, and spirals are still what work best for me, because I cannot maintain organization of small items and papers. A harder suck pill to swallow is that I stink at being a boss when the shite hits the fan; however, I excel at being a consultant to organizations (there’s a big difference!).
Over the years as I’ve expanded, rescaled, or morphed my business, I’ve found it so helpful to stay mindful of my awareness. I develop what I can strengthen and don’t beat myself up anymore over what I don’t do well. There are people and technology solutions for those things. The important thing is that we know what we do well. Reading books, taking assessments such as DISC or the Gallup Strengths Finder or the now-popular Enneagram help us take assessment of our strengths, know where we need support, and also recognize how others perceive us.
Be open to feedback. Stubbornness is different from resilience. A resilient business examines itself and its potential market to make ever-shifting decisions to match its offerings with the market’s needs. A stubborn business or business owner does not recognize or ignores the input of others more knowledgeable or errantly wants the market to change their behaviors rather than assume responsibility for the shifts needed to provide to the needs of the market.
It’s a new year, and January is a great time to start writing your business reading lists, find virtual or in-person events, join networking groups and chambers and begin cultivating relationships with people you will actively seek feedback and guidance from. What do you think you can do this year to grow your awareness as a leader and to welcome the feedback of trusted peers and mentors? Where could some simple steps towards increased awareness propel your business. How could these steps shed light on how you need shift your messaging services or product offerings?
It’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth the investment of time to think about.
Dream bigger, and your dreams will be more attainable when your awareness is at its highest!