Why Business Owners Are Like Icebergs

04 March 2015 by Shweta Jhajharia

What was it that sunk the titanic? Yes, it was an iceberg – but it wasn’t the image that you conjure in your mind of a mountain of ice bobbing above the water. That’s only 5% – what really sunk the great ship was the 95% that is not visible below the surface. How does this relate to business consulting or to you as a business owner?

Behaviour is only 5%

Let’s use the iceberg as a metaphor for you, as a business owner and as a leader of a business, and your identity. You should understand that what is visible, above the water, is just 5% of what determines your decisions as a business owner. This bit above the surface is your behaviours – how you conduct yourself in business, the parts that are visible to your team. So what is the 95% that’s under the surface of every business owner and entrepreneur?

Your Business Skills

What are the skills you excel at? What do you need to work on? Do you really know what you’re looking at? The fact is, the things you are skilled at you end up doing more of. If you’re good at cooking, you will cook more. If you’re good with numbers, you’ll do more number crunching and finance work. If you’re good at interacting with people, you’ll do more client-facing work.

If you want to become a better business director, you need to understand your business in a holistic sense.

You need to consciously develop the skills that you’re NOT good at because you DO have to deal with all areas of your business. This is critical because your skill level will determine your actions and behaviour. If you don’t have the skills, you won’t do it – and your business will suffer.

Your Business Beliefs

The next level deeper is your belief system. This is an example I always give in my consulting sessions to help my clients understand what I’m getting at: When we are kids, our teachers and our parents will often tell us, “You’re good at English.” Or maybe it’s Maths, or Science, or Art. Whatever the subject, they encourage you with the best intentions.

However, what this does is set an anchor in your mind that formulates a belief and develops into an opinion, “Oh yes, I’m very good at English.” But it can also be flipped and become a negative anchor, “I’m not very good at numbers.”

Maybe those belief systems have worked for you, or maybe they have impeded you. Either way, they’ve created core beliefs that have fundamentally affected who you are.

What you need to do, as a business owner, is to create the right sort of anchors for you to develop your business in the best way possible. You cannot go into business saying, “I don’t like numbers” because numbers are a critical part of every aspect of your business. Equally, you can rarely go into business saying, “I don’t like people,” because most businesses are designed to solve people’s problems – and if you cannot interact with people well, you will find it difficult to sell your solution to them. Not only that, but you will also have difficulty understanding how to work with your team.

Your Business Value System

This isn’t the same thing as beliefs – this is taking it one step deeper. Beliefs are more to do with what you think you are and aren’t capable of. Your values are what you consider to be right and wrong, correct and incorrect.

The main issue I see during my business consulting sessions is that people often have a lot of what I call “head trash” caught up in their values system, which is stopping them from achieving what they really want to achieve.

The best example of this is how people view the idea of money and making a profit.

Take a step back for a second and consider – how do you actually see money? Many people see money as “evil” – that you’re not meant to talk about money and that making money is not good. That’s fine; if that is your value system then go for it and seek out the goals that you really want to seek out.

However, almost every business owner I know DOES want to make money but is filled with this sense that it’s not a good thing to focus on or think about.

Well here’s my viewpoint on money: if your business is not making good money – not “enough” money, but GOOD money – what that says is that you are not adding enough value to enough people. Once you reach out to a bigger market – in a systemised and scalable way – you will automatically be bringing in more money – and that’s a really good indicator of the value you provide. I see it as that there is a core relationship between the value I provide and the money I get in return.

So ask yourself, what are the core values that you hold? How do they affect the way you run your business?

Your Business Identity

This is the final depth of the identity iceberg. Who are you at the core? What do you put after “I am…”? What are you? What defines you? Are you a mother? Are you a business owner? Are you good at numbers? A great salesperson? What is it that really makes you who you are.

Drilling down through these different levels is an important exercise for any business owner. Knowingly or unknowingly, almost every new client that I start business consulting with, especially in London, will carry around a lot of anchors with them that are affecting their judgement in business.

However, there is one final thing to consider when it comes to your identity:

Your Business Environment

An iceberg cannot survive in a tropical ocean – it must be in a very cold expanse of water. Equally, even the most entrepreneurial spirit cannot grow into a successful business owner if they are not surrounding themselves with an environment that nurtures their identity.

What books are you reading? Who do you have around you advising you on your business decisions? What webinars are you attending? Are you taking notes at workshops and reviewing those notes later?

This is the environment that you create for yourself – and you should be creating one where you are forcing yourself to become better.


In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you are now, or that your identity is a bit weak at the moment. Icebergs grow and so can you. So what’s really important is that you grow and become better.

If you would like to hear more about this please feel free to get in touch below.

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Shweta Jhajharia

Shweta Jhajharia is one of the leading authorities on Business Value Building and the creator of the unique 6M Model. Shweta is widely respected as an impactful, intelligent and results orientated professional who helps business leaders unleash their potential to reach meaningful, higher objectives. This realisation of potential and maximisation... Read more