By Mark Holyoake, Founder at Oakvest Holdings,
“Today is difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. Most people die tomorrow evening.” – Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.com
The world of investment is often one of calculated risks, in addition to the times of uncertainty as to whether those risks will pay off. However, as Jack Ma so eloquently put it, perseverance in the face of these challenges is what separates those that succeed in the long-term from those that balk at the first sign of difficulty. With over 20 years of entrepreneurship and investment experience within the real estate and private seafood sector, these are the tenets I have found vital as an entrepreneur to not allow oneself to “die tomorrow evening.”
Start Your Day Early
Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted to have said “early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Indeed, in a study of self-made millionaires by author Thomas C. Corley, he found that nearly 50% of them woke up at least three hours earlier than their workday began. On a personal level, my focus is much sharper in the early mornings. As we move throughout the day, our mind can become bogged down by the minutiae of everyday life. Therefore, I find it essential to get some of my most important work done such as reviewal of contracts and documents in the early hours of the morning. This allows me to put my entire focus on the task at hand, as once you begin your day the demands put upon you by others can get in the way of accomplishing the tasks most crucial to you.
Self-Care is Essential
Waking up early isn’t only beneficial for your productivity. The early hours of your morning can also be used for self-care, another element that is vital to the success of any endeavor taken. Of all the investments I have made in my career that have helped me grow professionally, one of the ones I value most was my recent decision to hire a personal trainer. While this investment holds no monetary value, the time and effort I put into my health and well-being has given me a much greater return in productivity and general contentedness. In the often high-pressure world of investment it can be difficult to turn off and allow your mind and body time to rest, but without doing so burnout is inevitable. It is always obvious to me when I haven’t been devoting enough time to self-care, as small challenges and dilemmas throughout the day suddenly seem much more monumental.
Delegation is Key
It is often the case that entrepreneurs get in the mindset of “if I want something done right, I have to do it myself.” However, I have found that the ability to trust the people around you with sharing the workload is imperative to a successful business. Allowing the members of your team autonomy while still providing them with support not only allows you more time to fulfill your own role, but promotes a work environment that encourages innovative thinking. It is the responsibility of a leader to teach others and celebrate in their successes just as much as it is to lead and direct them. When members of the team are given opportunities to grow and challenge themselves, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company and seek opportunities for more growth within the company, creating stronger chains of succession. No man is an island, and it is important for every person to feel they are an integral member of the business. This has proven time and time again in my various positions to be one of the most powerful tactics for success within a company.
Surround Yourself with a Strong Team
In being a shareholder for many different investment groups, I’ve found one of the most vital elements to a successful company is a strong and collaborative team. As a social person by nature, I strongly believe that ideas are best and most efficiently executed when everyone involved is on the same page in terms of decisions made, so it is imperative that the people you work with on a daily basis not only share a similar vision to you, but also bring different skills and opinions to the table. True innovation can only occur through the uninhibited ability of one’s peers to share their dissent. One of my riskiest investments was the acquisition of majority stock of an Icelandic seafood company during a time of economic instability within the country. However, upon observation of the company as a potential investment, I determined there was a strong core of people in leadership roles. With the knowledge of that, I felt confident enough to invest and had the pleasure of working with those people on the board of the company for ten years, during which we saw significant growth in profitability.
Accept Failure and Learn From It
All this to be said, failure is an inevitable part of entrepreneurship, or really any goals pursued in life. With every new endeavor or investment, no matter how calculated and thought out it is you are still taking a considerable risk, and sometimes the payout doesn’t match the time and effort you’ve put into it. I myself have not been immune to these failures, and I’ll be the first to admit the weight of them can be heavy. However, it is important to see these failures not as the end of the road, but simply a roadblock. Analysing what went wrong can be painful, but this identification is crucial for moving forward and learning how to proceed in the future. Failure is the “tomorrow evening” Jack Ma is referring to, and only those who choose to persevere beyond this point are the ones who achieve great success.