Ahead of the wave

A step into the dark

Next year will be my 40th year in business. When my business partner and I opened our doors in 1976, the business world was like a red-brick suburb. Now, it’s more like outer space.

When we opened our art studio, we saw it as a sign of a coming trend.

As graphic designers, we had some skill, some talent, and the training to do things that other people couldn’t do unless they had the same training. We didn’t have a lot of competition, and we were soon swamped with work. Even after we raised our prices, we had more work than we could handle. We did no marketing.

Even though I had just moved to the US and didn’t know anyone, I had no trouble finding work at $90 an hour, which is about $200 an hour today. Few people asked about the bills, and I didn’t advertise.

Going digital

There was still too much to do. We hired a designer, then another, and by 2006, we had 10 people working for us. Our business grew by an average of 23% a year. What’s different? Half of our lives were now spent working on business.

During this decade and the next, computers became a business tool for everyone. The most important thing was how our work and worth became less important. “They think they could do what we do if they had enough time, talent, and software knowledge.”

We have an inside joke about our clients that goes, “They think they could do what we do if they had the time, talent, and software knowledge.” They queried our quotes and questioned our invoices.

We were bewildered. Our previously steady boat was rocked by the new facts. We looked everywhere for help. today, we didn’t find any.

How do we become important people?

We started to think about how to make ourselves into influential people, not because we knew how to do it, but because we felt like we should. We were stuck between making changes and sticking to what we knew, so progress was slow and often scattered.

We would have been ready a decade ago for the Key Person of Influence accelerator program and the wise advice of Daniel Priestley, author and co-founder of DENT.

I went to his workshop called “The Waves of Change” not too long ago.

From 2006 to 2016, the business world went through changes that had never happened before. Daniel says, though, that we haven’t seen anything yet.

As he thought about the strange world we live in now, he also noticed that people who were doing well a few years ago no longer were. Things have gotten much harder in business.

He told us we needed to get ready for the next ten years because “the world will go crazy and you’ll either be riding the wave of change or being swept out to sea by it.”

“Don’t just rock the boat, this is capsize and sink or go for the ride of your life!”

Four overlapping trends

He said that four business trends will come together to make this tsunami. As I listened to him, I thought, “Forget about just rocking our boat; this is capsize and sink or go for the ride of your life.”

Daniel says that this chain of events starts when the baby boomers begin to retire.

This huge population, whose spending has set trends in every industry for the past 50 years, starts living on less money every day starting in 2016 and for the next eight years.

Compare that to the next generation, the Millenials. They don’t care much about most of the things that the Boomers care about, especially the properties they’ll have to sell to get cash. Even if you’re not an economist, that sounds like a big change from the way things are now.

When you factor in how technology is changing the way we work and live as well as how current employment structures are going away, the way we work tomorrow will be very different from how we do it today.

Lastly, there is government fear, which I would add to government austerity.

Governments can’t spend as much as they used to. They don’t want to make the right changes for the right reasons for the people, and they don’t have the will to do so.

The business at hand

Daniel gave businesses a number of ways to get ahead of the wave. One of these was to become a business with a purpose instead of a business in a place. He also talked about why it’s important for a lifestyle business to have a strong team.

Many people talk about having a purpose, but they don’t really understand why it’s so important.

But I agree with Daniel that if you want to get way ahead of this crazy wave, you’ll need to know what you want to do. And clear principles, the rules that you can’t break that tell you why you do what you do and for whom. This is why.

Because when they work together, they show intent

Intention has nothing to do with words. James Bond is on the job. It knows where it’s going and why, which makes it move quickly forward.

Forward motion gets rid of everything that isn’t directly related to your best offer, for your best people.

When you’re moving forward, you can’t go in circles, go backward, or have Multiple Possibility Disorder.

Intention is only about the next steps that make sense to get you closer to your goal.

No distractions

Working with principles lets you see the mistakes your best people will make before they find you. If you know this, you can go straight to your main points and the most interesting stories that back them up.

Your positioning and the communications that back up that promise, like blogging (which is why you should blog! ), speaking, writing white papers, books, and using social media, should be clear and consistent. This will strengthen your business DNA.

During this time, you build up your best business-building tools, like trust, rapport, credibility, profile, and influence, so you can attract, convert, and keep working with the people you want to work with the most.

Just the ship you need to move forward fast enough to beat the tsunami Daniel said would happen.

When we look back, it’s possible that those young women almost 40 years ago also knew what it meant to take the right risks ahead of waves of change.

Download my program to be your own mentor to find out how that can help you.