Luck Meets Preparation:
Be Prepared for the Wild Magic of Growing a Successful Business
by Patricia Beckman, Founder and CEO Cybertary
"I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity." - Oprah Winfrey
"I am a great believer in luck, and the harder I work, the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson
Because the Cybertary business has seen success fairly quickly, I get a lot of questions from new entrepreneurs like, "How did you do it?" or "What's your secret to success?" At first, I found myself stammering a little for an answer that felt authentic. It's not that I had any doubt about the hard work I had put into the business, it's just that there was this critical bit of "magic" that happened along the way as well - and both have been instrumental in Cybertary's success.
Being prepared can be the best groundwork for growth.
I do not have a magic formula that will work to quickly grow every business; however, I do believe hard work, preparation, and even a little "doing nothing," when necessary, prepared me for the fairly rapid growth of my business. Good business sense means knowing when to be hands on and when it pays to just sit back and let the magic of good business preparation take its course. For instance, with Cybertary, much of our success came out of simply sharing our creative business model, which helps professionals maintain a better work/life balance. There are plenty of working mothers and others seeking this kind of more flexible model for work. More than anything, we just needed to present this option to this audience. The interest and need was already there. It was like the famous line from Field of Dreams: "Build it and they will come." You don't always have to be "doing" something to be working toward your success. Sometimes the "doing" is the "letting happen."
An open mind can lead to open opportunities.
You never know what opportunities for growth and future success will present themselves or when. It's okay to keep an open mind and even to veer off track when a good opportunity presents itself. I started Cybertary as a solution to my own work/life imbalance crisis, with no intention of becoming a nationwide VA franchise. However, people presumed Cybertary was a franchise based on its appearance, which opened my eyes to possibilities and ultimately led me to launch the business model as a franchise opportunity for other working mothers and professionals seeking to leave the inflexibility of the corporate world.
Thinking big can pave the way for big growth.
Even if you're a small business, set every goal, make every plan and solve every problem as if you are a larger business. Build the infrastructure for growth so that your systems are ready when the big opportunities for growth come. At Cybertary, we documented procedures and created our Intranet system long before we needed all of the functionality that we had. Now that we are poised for a national structure, our systems are able to accommodate it, and we are not stagnated. Thinking big from the very beginning helped operationally, and the positive thinking and belief in the possibilities ahead surely didn't hurt either.
Spending up front can truly convert to earning well in the long run.
The old adage is true...you have to spend money to make money. In order to grow your business, you may have to invest in it. Cutting corners on your business is like cutting corners on your opportunities for success. Invest logically based on predefined priorities and budgets. Don't spend impulsively, but INVEST. For Cybertary, we invested in exceptional people, superior marketing systems, great websites, and some of the best online and software technologies, to name a few. This superior foundation has served us very well.
Taking chances and following your heart can turn into reward.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the chance for failure...but also the bigger the chance for success! My husband and I have invested unmentionable amounts of time and money into the growth of Cybertary, but we do so confidently knowing that we will get back our investment several times over. We follow a very strict business plan and budget to keep Cybertary on course to help us meet our personal dreams. So go with your heart - don't find yourself years down the road saying, "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda." Go out and do it. Now. Grab the brass ring. Someone else will if you don't.
Making mistakes is part of every successful business story.
The best part about making a mistake is that it means you've learned something you can apply the next time around. Mistakes make you smarter, as long as you learn from them, and they're critical in the art of running a successful business. I made a mistake, well, actually two mistakes with the Cybertary.com website. The first "low bid" version of our site required an external consultant for website maintenance who, in turn, had an excruciatingly slow response time. The second version would not integrate with our internal database. We are now on our third complete overhaul of the Cybertary.com website after realizing that we needed a structure that was easier to maintain ourselves and that seamlessly integrates with our Intranet to expand as our business grows. This was a very expensive and time-consuming lesson. However, we have learned quite a bit about website options and structures beyond the HTML basics, which have opened doors for other billable Cybertary services. Even if a mistake seems devastating when it happens, odds are it can serve as a wonderful and maybe even prosperous opportunity down the line. Live and learn. It's the only way to get wiser.
Keeping your vision in front of you can keep you on track.
Your business plan will probably change and evolve. And often. Keep your plan up to date and in writing. Keep it in front of you so that you can keep your end vision and the logical steps to that vision in focus. I review the Cybertary business plan regularly, and the extra hours I get to spend with my family serve as an everyday reminder that keeps me trudging forward even on those days when I feel a little lost. Having that extra time and flexibility for my two daughters is great incentive for reprioritizing to make this dream job work for me. This was my vision when I started Cybertary, and that vision and its rewards always keep me on track. Since my daughters were the inspiration behind the Cybertary Vision, I keep their pictures proudly on my desk as another source of inspiration. When I started working toward the Cybertary dream a couple years ago, I had no idea all the places it would take me. To some it might seem a bit "chaotic," but I like to think of it as being open to the bigger dream and to the magic that we get to experience sometimes when we follow our hearts. I planned well and worked really hard. I took all the necessary steps to build a substantial business opportunity for others and myself. I took chances. I made mistakes. But I stayed on course, and I stayed true to my vision. I got really well prepared and then...then I got a little lucky too. So what's my secret? Work hard. Prepare hard. Let go. Let grow. And then, be ready when the magic happens!
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