Four leaf cloverI have been thinking about this on an off for a while.

How do you reconcile good fortune, or ‘luck’ in a business and it’s success (or failure!)?

In all the businesses I have been directly involved with, in ether setting up and growing, or being a contributor to, there always seems to be an element of what most people would call luck.

And this luck has helped us grow, helped us sell, and helped us evolve. It has even helped us get out of trouble a few times.

So as I look at our current business and it’s growth, it struck me that again we have had some good luck along the way. And I had this feeling or worry that what if our success now or in the future wasn’t down to skill or experience or planning but solely down to one or two key moments of fortune or luck? Does that really make you successful? Or just lucky?

If you do have some luck, do you start doubting your true abilities?

(A quick comment on doubt:  Doubt is never good. When you are trying to get a business started, or build a relationship, or make a promise, doubt is a killer. You have to believe in yourself and your ability (whilst knowing your strengths and weaknesses!). So I really do try to be conscious of doubt when it starts to creep in to my mind. And the last time I had any feeling of doubt was when we had some good luck recently!)

So what is luck in business? Do we make our own? Is our business at the mercy of fate?

I think from a business point of view, you make your own luck. Or more specifically, you make your own opportunities happen. How do you do this?

  1. Listen
    Listening is very important. And I don’t just mean listening in the audible sense. Listen to the needs of others, whether they be a business entity, an individual or a group. Listening is the first step toward understanding. Understanding others, their motivations, their strengths and weaknesses can be important. It can help you identify how you need to treat others and how you can build a relationship or opportunity. BONUS: It will also help you be a better friend, parent or partner outside of business too!
  2. Network and get out of your Comfort Zone
    This is the key. Whether you are a confident of shy person, someone who loves to talk or someone who doesn’t, opportunities/fortune/luck just doesn’t happen when al you do is sit in an office. If you are growing a business you need to get out. You need to attend conferences, you need to learn, you need to ask questions (see Point 3). You need to meet people, use LinkedIn, email them a ‘hey, was great to meet you’. Get out there.When you get out and meet people, opportunities happen. Simple.
  3. Ask the question!
    Just ask the question. Don’t guess, don’t hesitate, DON’T ASSUME. Just ask. You never know what the answer might be. And often the answer will be ‘Sure, we can think about that”, or “Sure, we can sell that domain – no one ever asked us before!”, or “Sure, we can meet and discuss a partnership”.I hate assumption, and I hate hiding behind assumption. Assumption is dangerous, and hiding is no good either. If you think you are going to hear some negative news from a supplier, a customer, or a partner business then it is better to call and find out NOW rather than later.I’ve been there. When you know bad news is coming and it will affect your company or business. I have ‘hid’, and waited. As the classic business book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go‘ authored by Dr. Seuss points out, you don’t want to hang around people that just wait for things to happen. Go and grab it.

Anyway, those are my little thoughts on luck. You do make your own. And often you have done the work to make that luck happen. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and it takes hard work and perseverance and a lot of listening, networking, and asking that question!

So to finish, I will quote my father. When I mentioned I was writing this blog post he simply said:

“The harder you work, the more luck you will have”. Sums it up neatly I think!