Spinning a Plate

Shortly you will become unemployable.

You’ll never be able to work for someone else again.

Those words sent a chill through me. I was worried about the risk of failure, and rightly so. However I had a solid belief that what I was doing uas the right thing to do – it just felt right: I was ready for a big challenge, the industry was booming, and I had a genuine interest in the ebusiness sector. On top of that Bill was clearly a visionary – both in terms of business and in terms of people.

“I don’t mind you spinning a plate Justin. Just make sure you keep an eye on it. You need metrics, and you’ve got to keep it moving forward…”

Everyone has seen someone spinning plates. It used to be a clever act for variety TV shows and I first saw it at the circus. Plate spinning is a particular type of circus trick where you take a dinner plate on a thin wooden stick, then start the plate spin. The spinner wobbles the stick to keep the momentum going. The greater the skill, the more plates you can spin.

The timing must be precise – you must know when to wobble the stick and how much. Get it wrong and that plate will smash. It needs finess to keep each one moving forward.

Running a business a little akin to spinning a plate. There is simply nothing quite a liberating or frightening as grasping the nettle and hanging out your own shingle.

Unfortunately it is a sad fact of life that 95% of new business ventures fail within 7 years, and the majority of these fail earlier.

Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of most economies, and some of those will be the big businesses of tomorrow. Those that will be successful will know the right things to focus on. Those that don’t find these things will face dire consequences – losing a home, a spouse or both.

Taking an opportunity – being entrepreneurial – is a mindset that will become taught in schools. However an undergraduate or post-graduate degree – or MBA for that matter – doesn’t provide the fundamental common sense basics that are the key to running a successful business.

I contend that many small business problems are the same as large business problems – just the number of zero’s is different, and the consequences of collapse more dire for the small business individuals concerned.

Part of the problem for entrepreneurs is the way they learn. They often tend to be the least formally educated within their business. They take a learning by doing – and by doing a lot – approach. They are interested in the problems others face and how they have dealt with them, and anecdotes are the key to the way they quickly grasp the nuances of complex problems.

So this book is intended to provide a common sense guide to business. Adopt these into your business and you will be a long way towards success.

One thought on “Spinning a Plate

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