No question Peter Drucker is a legend.
A man with a seriously keen eye for business — his insights still apply to entrepreneurs everywhere.
And even though Drucker is deceased, you can hear his words of wisdom calling from the grave if you listen closely.
In fact, I finally had the opportunity to open ‘The Daily Drucker’ this week; a book containing 366 days of nothing but pure wisdom wedded to action.
Astounded at the depth of his knowledge; I grabbed 12 key insights straight from the mouth of Drucker. If you’re wise, you’ll apply each one right now to your world of entrepreneurship.
Key #1: “Those who perform love what they’re doing.”
Yes — you need to love what you do. It’s called passion. Think about it; do you really believe guys like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates spent so much time in the world of technology if they didn’t flat-out love it? Find your passion because it’s the place to start on your road to success as an entrepreneur. Plus, according to Drucker, your performance depends on it.
Key #2: “Successful entrepreneurs do not wait until “the Muse kisses them” and gives them a bright idea; they go to work.”
Passion without action is to have the Ferrari in the garage collecting dust. Not good. And yes I know you want to plan and think and strategize. But the reality is those who take action win the race every time over those who don’t. Stop putting off what you know needs done; listen to Drucker and ‘go to work’. Today please.
Key #3: “What is our business?”
Think hard — what is the purpose and mission of your business? And no, you can’t run and read me the Mission Statement hung on the wall in the dusty frame. You know the one, written only because someone told you to write it. Drucker was a firm believer in the power of ‘purpose’. Jobs at Apple lived it. Founder Clate Mask at Infusionsoft swears by it. Are you clear on your purpose as a business? It’s your North Star. So if you haven’t identified it — you’re lost in the dark and primed to walk off a cliff. Please don’t do that. Go here instead.
Key #4: “Who is the customer?”
Of course it all starts and ends here. Your customer. You know, the reason you’re in business. Pack well because your journey to really know your customer lasts the lifetime of your business. Plan to walk 1,000 miles in their shoes. Not 10. One thousand. Alexander Osterwalder, co-author of ‘Business Model Generation’, created an innovative tool called the Value Proposition Canvas. Grab it here and work the right side. Answer the questions on behalf of your customers. And if you struggle with this? Slap on some shoes (hint: not yours) and start walking.
Key #5: “Neither studies nor market research nor computer modeling is a substitute for the test of reality.”
Drucker called it “the test of reality”. Because we now live in a hyper speed world of communication thrust forward by mobile, social media and the Internet in general — the race to innovate product/market fit has turned it from a marathon to a sprint. Do you run your business around a culture of testing and experimentation? Or do you over indulge in the ‘study of the market’? A new breed of smart entrepreneurs choose option number one.
Key #6: “Measure innovations by what they contribute to market and customer.”
One thing I noticed about Drucker and his wisdom is this: he drilled home that the life blood of a company is rooted in management and innovation. Take his advice in key #5; and combine it with an understanding that to simply ‘test’ is futile without the important marriage partner of ‘measurement’. Yes — not only do you need a culture of ‘testing’; but you must measure what you test. Again, wise entrepreneurs understand and use tools such as A/B Split Testing as part of their repertoire.
Key #7: “Often a prescription drug designed for a specific ailment ends up being used for some other quite different ailment.”
Be ready to pivot. Go with the market. Don’t worry if it’s not the way you ‘planned’. Nothing ever is. As Drucker alludes to here, some of the greatest success stories in business are the result of a change in direction based on market response or product surprise. Just like the guy trying to invent a super strong new adhesive. Yes — he failed. His failure is called a Post-it Note.
Key #8: “Innovative ideas are like frogs’ eggs: of a thousand hatched, only one or two survive to maturity.”
Your goal as an entrepreneur is to create a system and culture which allows you to quickly move through all the potential things you ‘could’ do so you can nail the things you ‘should’ do. Drucker drives home the point well in his frogs’ eggs metaphor. Every idea you have will not be a winner. In fact, most ideas will be lousy based on market response. But it’s okay. True entrepreneurs understand this is part of the game and are willing to search through a thousand hatched ideas to find the ones worthy of nurturing to maturity.
Key #9: “All one has to do is learn to say ‘no’ if an activity contributes nothing.”
As you may know from reading previous posts, I am a huge believer in the power of the word ‘no’. And although I’ve taken some hits from some of my peers on this stance; Drucker backs me here. Yes — you have to learn how to say ‘no’. Those who understand their purpose and mission as a company, and therefore have steely eyed focus, should have clear boundaries around their time and resources. Do you?
Key #10: “In the Next Society’s corporation, top management will be the company. Everything else can be outsourced.”
Pick up Tim Ferriss’ book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ and you will snag a thing or two on this matter. Although I’m not sure of the timeframe Drucker spoke of with his ‘Next Society’, I would argue we are there. Virtual Assistants in the Philippines, manufacturing plants in Shanghai and software coders in Croatia. But even here in America jobs are outsourced to… yes; other Americans. Want proof? Read this post by the co-founder and CEO of NextSpace, Jeremy Neuner, titled ‘40% of America’s workforce will be freelancers by 2020’. Yes — outsourcing has officially arrived and wise entrepreneurs make it part of their strategy.
Key #11: “Most of the people who persist in the wilderness leave nothing behind but bleached bones.”
Country legend Kenny Rogers, in his quest to describe playing poker, sang the lyrics “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…” Drucker speaks the same rule here. Entrepreneurship is about knowing when to let go. Venture capitalist Dino Vendetti told me once “The worst ventures are the ones which just linger. They neither discover the key to their success nor do they fail fast either. Drifting in no man’s land is the worst possible outcome.” If you find yourself adrift, it might be time to let go. No bleached bones please.
Key #12: “Finding and realizing the potential of a business is psychologically difficult.”
Is it ever. According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs fail in their business within 18 months of startup. Only 2 make it to the top. Why? Because Drucker is right; it’s just plain difficult. Sometimes I would rather go to the dentist and have 8 cavities filled than fight the daily battle of entrepreneurship. But then a new day dawns and tenacity takes over. The perfect antidote for insecurity, complacency and hopelessness. Forbes writer Cheryl Conner shares the story of entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran and 8 others on how they battle insecurity and fear.
Entrepreneurship according to Drucker. Learn it. Live it.
NOTE: If you don’t know me, I’m Eric. Husband, father & life-long entrepreneur.
If you’re an entrepreneur — let’s connect right here — right now.
Seriously. Here’s a proven formula:
Your Wisdom + My Wisdom = More Success