As Sir Alex Fer…

As Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates 25 years as manager of Manchester United, I feel a great sense of pride and awe. Such dedication, such commitment, over so many years. And it hits me: so few people these days have that long-term stick-to-it mentality, so few people seem willing to keep going over the long haul, through the rough times as well as the smooth. So I choose to dedicate this blog to all those who have built a business or a brand over many years, and keep on building it, despite the odds. They have probably already realized the value in sticking with one thing.

There are so many benefits to a single-minded commitment strategy. Firstly, you get to forget about everything else and just focus on the one thing that inspires and delights you. I appreciate that sometimes it doesn’t seem so delightful, such as when you have a difficult financial period or difficult clients or suppliers. But the overall big picture is one that you are tied to mentally, emotionally and maybe even physically. You develop a sense of loyalty to that business and brand, to the customers and clients who rely on you. You would never dream of letting them down and so you soldier on. I have had two rough patches over the past 9 years I have been building The Book Midwife. Both times I thought briefly about quitting, but I knew I could never do it. I dug deep into my soul as well as my personal financial reserves, and I came out fighting. I picture that quintessential British icon, the bulldog. I imagine him with a bone in his teeth. Yes, it can be tough, but I will never surrender.

Another great benefit to sticking with one thing for a long time is that you get better and better at it, and people get to know you for that quality. Sir Alex understands that, and so do many committed business owners I have met, who have just kept doing the same thing, tweaking and adjusting, but never wavering. Other copycats may come and go. I see them all the time in my industry. Oh, look! All of a sudden he/she claims to be an expert. I just smile because the market knows the true experts are the ones who have honed their craft and deepened their understanding and their value, and that takes time.

Some people are reluctant to commit to just one thing. They say they like variety. Well, those of us who have kept doing our one thing know that you can get variety in lots of ways. No two customers or projects will ever be the same, will they? I think the talk about variety is a smokescreen for people who are scared to choose. They fear that they will choose the wrong thing, or that they will miss out on another opportunity. Many worry that there is not enough business in just one area. Let me assure you, there is always enough business for people with deep levels of commitment and years of experience. And if you hop from one thing to another, it makes it very difficult for people to pigeon-hole, categorize or tag you, which they need to do in this busy world.

I also see people uncertain and confused about what they should commit to. That is a valid concern, and one that can be addressed so easily and effectively with good coaching. It can be hard to see all of the possibilities and it can be very valuable to have another opinion or someone to bounce things off of. By the way, if you like this idea and are a coach or other small business owner in the UK, come along to the Coaches Networking Convention next Saturday 12th November, where I will be speaking about developing your niche.

Let me conclude by raising my virtual glass to Sir Alex and wishing him the best for as long as he wants to continue in his current career. And I also toast every single committed entrepreneur who grits their teeth and carries on, no matter what. The payoff is sometimes right around the corner. There are those who quit just before they are about to succeed. And then there are those who would never quit. Their commitment and longevity will win in the long run.