Inspiration is food when scaling a business

"The more extensive a man's knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do." - Benjamin Disraeli

I was reflecting on an article I wrote a week or so ago We give advice by the bucketful and take it by the grain.” In that article I suggested that we should of course roll out the household names to provide inspiration to our ambitious businesses, but we should also highlight more relatable examples to provide that extra inspiration. A few of my LinkedIn connections asked me to explain myself.

Perhaps randomly I made a connection between ‘inspiration’ and ‘productivity’.

Inspiration: ‘someone or something that gives you ideas for doing something’.

Productivity : ‘the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services

So, are we stimulating the right ideas for our businesses to do new and / or better things?

This seemed like a fair question given the long-standing challenge we have with productivity in Scotland. I observe we may not be feeding our businesses with the right inspiration, or at the right time in order to improve productivity. Many of our businesses are working really hard to just stay still. Sometimes they are settling into a comfortable space. Sometimes they are just so tired they get stuck in the status quo. They need to be energised to break out of the rut, the comfort, and the feeling that things are just too hard. Otherwise they may remain good, but never be great.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of inspirational people in our country. Many of them are still building their own businesses. Many are taking time to give back by sharing their experiences to inspire others. There are also many who translate and share stories from other inspirational people. So, if the material and the personalities are there, why is this support not translating into the desirable inspiration required?

Well, not everybody gets inspired by the same people or stories. We are all different and get a kick out of different things. Injecting inspiration at random points in the growth of a business might have a positive impact by accident, but not by design. Leaders need help to translate the ideas to make them real for their business. Of course, tailoring and timing the injection of inspiration into a business support package/lifecycle is not easy. But it can be done.

Listen to the specific challenge the business being supported is having and think about how best to respond from their perspective. For example:

  • Do they need a general energy boost that can be provided by a high profile name or story who can motivate a sloth to run a 100 metre sprint
  • Do they need to be inspired by a someone 6 months ahead of them on a similar journey. The answer is in the scars
  • Do they need inspired on a specific aspect of business (e.g. fundraising, creativity, leadership)
  • Will they relate more to the sizzle (well presented views than generate excitement) than the sausage (well presented substance that can be reflected on)?

Once you have done the listening it is more impactful to match the individual challenge and preference to the right source of inspiration. After all we know one size doesn’t fit all.

Let’s give our businesses the inspiration they need at the time they need it. Let’s leave them genuinely inspired, challenged, and energised to make an impact.

Mark  Bell profile photo

Mark Bell

Director, Economic Development

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