What is motivation in business?
It seems like a simple enough question, surely one looks at their business and find their motivation. Maybe there’s a final goal that motivates their business? It always feels like that light at the end of the tunnel, the reward after all the hard work.
As a young designer, I became obsessed with people who were able to do things that seemed to be outside of my field of expertise. People creating and building great things without limitations. I so badly wanted to be one of these people. I wanted this to be my motivation in business.
This, however, is not that story. Well, it is, but it’s not how one would expect it.
Years ago, shortly after my absolute obsession began but before pulling the trigger on my own business I worked for a giant. This man was a legend, maybe not on an international scale, but as South African denim heads go, this man had no rivals.
Starting off in his employment it was clear that I was never going to be his favorite, hell I never fit the profile of his type in any way manner or form. But somehow I managed to convince him to employ me.
Sitting in that shadow I started to learn. He had a routine that made no sense to me, he was as abrasive as a wash stone, but he had been fine-tuned by the industry to cut through so much noise, that when he made a call it resolved issues.
Understandably I found my business motivation while sitting in this man’s shadow.
Three key points that I hold true to everything I do.
I never knew when they would come, but every now and then, these gems would appear. Maybe he never noticed them either, but I would literally sit in my breaks. Smoke in one hand and coffee in the other, just milling over them.
#01 ‘You need to think of this problem as a brand, not a manufacturer.’
Simple and to the point, as much as margins and order quantities are crucial for growing any business. The moment you lose sight of your values, everything stops being authentic.
Your brand is my promise to your clients.
#02 ‘You don’t want someone to do everything well, you want someone to do one thing perfectly.‘
Trust me, I see the irony of this as a one-man brand. But the fundamentals are clear and it has bitten my arse a couple of times I overstep this line. If your client wanted a one-stop-shop for all their problems, they would never stumble into your space. Rather they are drawn to what you do because you do it well. Growth is important, but knowing when to cut back and focus is immeasurable.
#03 ‘I don’t like you, but I like your work!‘
I never saw it coming. The single biggest motivator for the next step in my business.
Ironically a catalyst to my starting my business, to hear that from someone I admired, was just the motivation I needed to start running. To do better and make it my own.
Motivation finds a way of sneaking in. Sure in my case, it got to a point where I was briefing others to present my work, but it focused me to the point of escaping, building and replacing.
Sure I’m not where I want to be just yet, but at least I’m not where I started.
Whatever happened to the giant, well some years later, after starting my own business and moving over to it as my core focus. I was asked if I would be interested in consulting for them…
I’m sure he still doesn’t like me, but I get a kick pointing out his brands’ problems.