December 12, 2018
By Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager

Jacki HartOver the past five columns, we’ve learned about some skills required by successful entrepreneurs. This month, we conclude with Curiosity.

I’ve yet to see a stable business that exists in a vacuum. There are constant changes affecting every business. These include: the marketplace, technology, staff, legislation, trends, talent, available resources, sophistication, goals, etc.

I’ll share the story of a restaurant in my town as an example of an entrepreneur who lost his curiosity (and his business). The business started as a catering and frozen food take-out. Then he was curious to see what would happen if he added a few tables and service for lunch and dinner. Then he added breakfast. When business waned, he realized it. Curious, he researched how he could enliven his well-established customer base. He re-branded to a ‘bistro’ type restaurant, offering a fabulous menu for three meals a day. It became one of the hottest ‘go-to’ places in town for an upscale meal, business meetings, or couples looking for a relaxed, quiet, delicious meal. He continually scanned for creative new ways to improve his recipes and business skills. He developed themed events and the business continued to thrive — with a customer base excited and always looking to his his next new offering.

Ten years went by. Other fine dining restaurants opened up in town. Competition became a threat. Nothing changed in his restaurant, other than a fair amount of ‘dissing’ the competition to his patrons. The odd tweak to the menu brought little excitement from customers. Online ratings were favourable, but few and far between — drawing a predominantly 55+ aged crowd — perhaps not interested in posting pictures to Instagram, Pinterest and Trip Advisor. Frustration of the owner became evident to patrons. Empty tables dominated. After a month closure for vacation, and a family tragedy, the restaurant closed down. A career and lifelong business simply got tired and closed without saleability or return on the owner’s investment. He had lost his curiosity and drive to innovate and adapt, in an industry where refreshing an image and menu is required for success.

Here are three key takeaways to keep you challenging your business status quo:
  1. Innovate: In today’s fast changing marketplace and consumer sophistication, those businesses which constantly innovate will stay ahead of the pack. Innovation requires you to have a keen sense of what needs to change, in what way, and when. Keeping your eye on the vision and desired outcomes will help to guide innovative directions. Engaging your team to apply their creativity toward the company potential is a huge part of the millennial contribution. Entrepreneurs can either lead innovation or engage their team to be the innovators. In both cases, knowing what available resources and market demand is out there will keep the power of curiosity on your side. 
  2. Customize: This sometimes requires you to slow down in order to go faster. There will be times when your business will benefit from customization of software, data management, processes, systems, policies, and apps or technology available. Many business owners are so mired in their day-to-day operations, they can’t even get a glimpse of the forest for the trees. Trust that there is a huge payback in the potential of your time invested to step off the company treadmill, regroup and map a more effective path forward with customized solutions.
  3. Adapt: Adapting on-the-fly requires that resilience and curiosity combined. Being able to adapt to current performance (either people or brand or profit) and push on ahead with tweaked solutions is paramount to success. Stay stuck in the old patterns, fail to adapt to changing conditions and you’re heading for the cliff. Even the Millennial workforce has carved out the need for new recruiting and on-boarding styles. Emphasis of recruiters has to shift to meet this demographic. If you don’t, you’ll be overworking your team and be faced with expensive empty seats on the bus.
Often, it takes a fresh set of experienced eyes to help spark your curiosity back up. By having a business coach or advisor ask you the difficult and fresh questions, it can spur you to discover opportunities, use your creativity to seize opportunities and launch forward through your glass ceiling. We can help.

Jacki Hart may be reached at