Take Control of Your Success

UPDATED: September 8, 2009
PUBLISHED: September 8, 2009

Remember when you were
young and adults asked, “What
do you want to be when you
grow up?” The idea was that
you were going to “be” one thing
and “be” that for the rest of your
life. How many people do you
know who have done the same
thing since they graduated from
school? Anyone?

You can no longer just pick
a job and keep it for the rest of
your life. All of these established
patterns have been swept away
by the advance of technology.
And you certainly can’t sit back
and expect customers to beat
a path to your door. If you want
your business to be a viable fi t
in the marketplace, you have to
stay current with your personal
technology. You need three
different types of skills.

First are your basic skills,
including your ability to read,
write, speak, calculate and
process information. If you are
limited in these core skills, now
might be the time to improve
them. Next are your functional
skills, which include any
specialized skill sets you have
learned to date.
Today, relying
on mastery of one
functional skill is
business suicide—because
the area in which your skill set
lies could completely transform
or disappear in a matter of years.
You need multiple functional
skill sets.

Your business success
depends largely on the third set
of skills: adaptability. To a great
degree, you can define your
competitive edge by how fast and
how well you learn something
new. You have to keep up with
your customers’ needs and ask
yourself if your business is solving
a problem. But it’s no longer solely
about finding and filling a need;
it’s about imagining a need and
creating it.

The trick is you have to be alert
to what is new and emerging—
because once everyone else has
noticed, it will no longer be new
and emerging. How well do you
explore the area you don’t know
about yet, and how regularly
and rigorously do you explore it?
Your business success and your
greatest potential for growth are
defined by your technology gap.

One way to assess whether
your business is still viable is by
putting yourself in the position of
your customers.
Would you buy your
own product or
try your service?
Would you choose
your business over
your competitors’?
Can customers find
your business—are you
recognized in your industry
for your
expertise? Or
do you have too many

You also need
to assess whether
you, personally,
are in the right
business, whether
you’re still passionate
about what you’re doing.
If you experience mental
conflict between your business
and your personal life, that’s
a healthy sign that you are in
the right business. It’s making
decisions between two things
you love. Do you think about the
business meeting scheduled in an
hour while talking to your children
whom you love? If you don’t have
mental conflict, something’s
wrong. Keep your wife and your
kids—just change your business.

I used to accept every speaking
opportunity and travel around the
world. I loved it. But now, I have
four kids, and the most important
thing to me is putting them to
bed at night. It’s not that I don’t
want to do the speeches—I loved
doing them—but you can’t pay
me enough to leave my kids for
a week. So I gave up that part of
my business because it wasn’t
working for me.

You have to be passionate
about your business. If you don’t
love your business, you are doing
a terrible disservice to your
customers and clients, your team
members and business partners,
your family and yourself. If you
determine you are in the wrong
business, put in the extra hours to
turn it, then put it on the market
and sell it.

Don’t wait until you’re
miserable or your business is
suffering. Let yourself be pulled
instead of pushed—pulled by
your entrepreneurial spirit, that is.
Finding and fixing those problems
can make you a fortune, and
make a lot of other people happier
in the process—including you!

Fit for Business
Question Yourself
Are you passionate and
excited about your business?
Do you feel torn between
family time and business
time? (It’s a good sign.)
Do you assertively seek
information and explore
areas of your business
where you lack knowledge?
Do you often talk about
ways to make your business,
product or service better?
Is your business (or you)
known for your expertise?
Would you buy your own
product or service?
Is your business current with

Paul Zane Pilzer is an
internationally known economist,
software entrepreneur and author of
dozens of scholarly publications and
eight best-selling books, including
Unlimited Wealth. He lives in Utah
with his wife and four children.

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Take Control of Your Business