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Beating the Odds - Lessons from 20 Years of Entrepreneurship

66% of small businesses never make it to year 10; yet we were just starting to expand when we hit that milestone. Now, in 2019, I feel like I beat the odds again.  This year Focused Momentum® turns 20! 

The significance of 2019 almost slipped past me.  We were so busy in the second part of 2018 that I was 100% focused on my next deliverable. However, on one of my long hikes, my true planner DNA naturally let my mind drift towards setting goals for the following year.  But it was not until I looked at the date that I realized I was planning for the last year of my second decade in business! It was a bit of a shock at first, but surprise quickly turned to pride.  

So much has happened in these 20 years, and yet, so much is still the same. You know what they say, “Wherever you go, there you are.” This is true for me as the founder of what is now an established business. The spark that led me to start my business still fires me up. The same purpose: to increase clarity, confidence, and productivity of people and their organization, still drives me today, and I still see endless ways to deliver on it.

Like any long road, my 20-year journey has not always been fun or easy, and because I still have that passion, it has often been much more than just work. I have built life-long friendships and survived the trials in my own life with the strength of these relationships. The best weeks are characterized by brilliance and laughter; the worst by doubt and fear, but somehow I always found a way forward. 

As we kick off this year of celebrating, I wanted to share with you some of my insights from the first 20 years of the Focus Momentum journey.

  1. Teacher and Student. We are hired to help our clients craft brilliant strategy and winning plans. We are the experts. So, one would think that we are always giving the lessons, but in reality, each group, set of leaders or project provides new opportunities for us to learn. Even after 20 years, I learned something new from every engagement.

It helps that our projects are highly customized, but we use the same framework, so one might think we have “seen it all” by now. Not so. There is so much for us to learn and build upon. For this, I am truly thankful and looking forward to the next 20 years.

  1. An Individual and a Team Sport. I would not have made it into my 2nd year, let alone my 20th without my team. From the start, and probably even before the start, I had the support of others. I had folks to help me produce and an advisory group to coach me. Over the years this team has changed, grown, shrunk, and morphed, but there have always been those same components of my team. They have continually helped me take on the next challenge and achieve my next set of goals.

Every leader knows people are THE critical success factor. I don't care how brilliant an idea is or how fantastic an opportunity looks; you achieved no growth, you see no real gain without your team. So, to Korby, Jen, Sharon, Anne, Emily, Julie, Karen, Jenai, Oscar, Daniel, Beth, Joel, Brian, Adam, Allen, Ingrid, Amy, Dave, Mary, Patricia, and Lisa, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you. I am sure I have forgotten someone - it has been 20 years - so forgive me and know that in my heart you are a part of this huge milestone.

  1. Sustaining Longevity or What Can We All Learn from Tony Bennett. When I was a kid, I was a singer. I started studying classically, and then after college, I studied rock. Classical was all about technique. Every practice was a defeat; no performance was ever quite right. There was always an internal voice judging me. Rock was different. It was hard-driving and emotional. I had a powerful voice, so I regularly “blew out my pipes,” which meant I couldn't sing for a couple of days.

Then I turned to the singers often referred to as “lounge” singers. They had it all: technique, emotion and most importantly, restraint. They could sing night after night after night and always give a great show leaving their audiences amazed. How did they keep doing it? I too want to perform at a high level endlessly. That is when I realized Tony Bennett was showing me the way.

Mr. Bennett is still performing and reinventing his performances eighty years after he started. Now that is true longevity. His secret? He loves it. He has a great team that supports him. He has other passions that fill up his tank - for him, it is painting,  for me it's nature – AND most impressively, he paces himself.

When I think about my vision (and it's big) and all the things I have done and still want to do, I think of Tony's performances, and I tell myself: “PACE yourself!” I balance my desire for perfection with my passion and strive to deliver consistently. Thanks, Tony!

Next week we start celebrating and would like all of you to share in the celebration throughout 2019. We have a gift 20 years in the making: a year of strategic management tools. These are free to you because you are already part of the Focused Momentum community, but you will need to opt-in to get them delivered directly to your inbox each month.  Look for this next week; I am excited to share these well-honed tools with you, and I hope they help you and your team achieve even high levels of performance.

Happy New Decade and I hope the new year brings new knowledge, deeper gratitude of your team, and the pacing you need to sustain yourself for another decade (or two).

Post Tags: Strategic Management

Cecilia Lynch

WRITTEN BY:Cecilia Lynch