Market musings

How Do You Make Your Own Luck in Business?

by Sasha Viasasha
September 27, 2017

It’s not fair.

It's possible, even common, to work hard on your small business without any result, then see a break open up for someone else who hasn’t put in the sweat equity you have.

It can be discouraging to struggle while others seem to get lucky. It can even make you doubt whether hard work really pays off, and whether only the lucky can win. But what is luck, really? Does hard work increase your chances of generating luck in business?

The Link Between Luck and War

There's an old saying that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Luck, this implies, is the ability to recognize chances as they happen and act in the moment. 

“Preparedness is a state of readiness, together with a willingness and ability to act.”

This quote, attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, is exactly what you'd expect from a Roman statesman steeped in a culture of war and trained in its arts from childhood. 

The battlefield is another place where hard work doesn't necessarily pay off. A superior understanding of conditions can beat a superior force. Opportunity is also about clarity. Which opportunities have value? Which are futile? Having a good understanding of conditions is part of preparedness.

Luck favors the ready and wise, or, again in the words of Seneca:

“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” 

The wind is available to anyone who can successfully exploit it. Those who can, we call lucky.

From the Battlefield to the Marketplace

Lucky people have a good grasp on the conditions that govern their sphere, but without the ability and will to act quickly and meaningfully, it isn't enough. A good general has a superior understanding of the geography and climate of the battle field, just as a good business person has insight into the market, but but if his troops are demoralized, depleted or lack firepower, his understanding avails him nothing. If they can’t respond quickly, superior intelligence and even position don’t matter.

Luck, it seems, is more than a moment in time, but a confluence of readiness, clarity, willingness and above all agility. Agility is absolutely essential in creating luck for yourself, because the ability to move quickly and easily is key to grasping opportunities while they can still pay off.

What All Successful SMBs Have in Common

The Journal of Social and Development Sciences conducted a review of hundreds of research studies that looked at thousands of small businesses. They found 16 common factors shared by all successful small businesses, including the usual suspects like great communication skills, customer orientation and the ability to rapidly unlearn old habits.

The researchers boiled down all of their findings to a single imperative:

“It was the agility of the enterprise as a whole in the face of change that underpins business success.”

Agility, more than any other quality, creates luck because it allows you to utilize opportunities, to open your sail to a favorable wind.

Is agility a matter of luck or hard work?

Agility doesn’t come about by luck, but by preparation, planning and culture. Hard work is part of the formula, but agility is all about allocating your resources wisely. You may work hard, but if you’re applying your efforts to the wrong area, your hard work will deplete you so you can’t grasp an opportunity when it does arise.

Luck in business is a function of agility. Agility in business is made up of four components:

Cultural agility

Culture agility is the flexibility to evolve your company culture with the greater culture. Cultural agility includes cultural fluency and the willingness to accommodate and even celebrate different viewpoints. At the same time, grounding your foundational culture in universals like customer experience, quality or other brand attributes can ensure you maintain a stable identity, even when you pivot or develop new approaches. 

Organizational agility

Is your organization able to act quickly and make decisions with a minimum of administrative process? Layers of process can slow you down when responding to the market, so substitute mentorship and training for administrative process, and empower your team to act.   

Financial agility

Without financial agility, it’s difficult to take risks and capture opportunities when they arise. Build as much slack into your financials as possible so you aren’t strapped when opportunity comes knocking.

Technological agility

Technology that servers an agile organization is scalable, simple and powerful. Just as administrative process can slow you down, complex systems can complicate your communication and muddy your analysis capabilities, giving you bad or inaccurate data. Your luck can only be as good as your data analysis.

Agility Enablement Device

You have a device literally in your hands that can make your small business more agile. Your smartphone, loaded with the right apps, is a universal remote for managing your business. Spoke has condensed the essential features of a professional phone system into a simple, intuitive app for you and your employees.

Your smartphones will become your phone system, so you can make and take business phone calls everywhere. Transfer calls easily, mask your personal number behind the company's dedicated line, and find out who's available on your team instantly.

You'll never miss a call, because the advanced AI receptionist answers for you when no one can pick up. You retain the data on who called when, and whether anyone has called them back, so opportunities aren't lost in the black hole of voice mail or messaging apps. Spoke delivers on all four components of agility. Activate your free trial of Spoke and start manufacturing your own luck.