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Boring Is Interesting

16 March 2014

Here’s the story – In 140 B.C., some savvy Roman politicians devised a plan to win the votes of their citizens and make sure they do not revolt. They figured that as long as people had (a) enough to eat and (b) enough distractions, they would not contest those rising to power. They coined the phrase – “Bread and Circuses”. They were, of course, referring to wheat rations and the gladiator fights among other things.

Over 2,000 years later, the nature of the “Bread” has changed and the nature of the “Circuses” have changed. What has not changed is their importance in determining how motivated any group of people are to challenge the status quo. A well-fed stomach and a good game of footy are often enough to make most people happy.

So why is a business consultant talking bread and circuses?

Because these two reasons often define what drives the entrepreneur. “Bread” could be simply bottom-line profit, but is often higher up Maslow’s hierarchy and is related to Belonging or even Esteem.

“Circuses” relate to the everyday excitements of going out there and solving problems – finding customers, converting sales, delivering a first-class job or chasing the next shiny object.

While “Bread” is often the underlying theme of the business owner’s role  – their long term goal and dream, the daily struggle is often led by the “Circuses”.

What business owners sometimes forget as they ride their daily merry-go-rounds is that oftentimes what their business does best has already been identified and just needs to be painstakingly and “boringly” repeated. The Entrepreneur in them, used to the roller coaster of running a business, tends to keep seeking and attracting the next thrill – often at the expense of core strategies that are guaranteed to work and improve their business.

Not that they’ve not tried these – in fact, quite the opposite – they have tried them quite successfully. For that very reason, they don’t want to do it again – they’re bored. They want to do something different.

A better definition of boring

Here’s the definition of “boring” that I like –  The act or process of making or enlarging a hole!

When digging for oil, the first drill that is sent down is often a very thin one. At this point, we’re just trying to confirm there is oil down there and enough if it. Some entrepreneurs think of themselves as responsible for these oil finds.

So what do they do once the oil is found?

They leave that hole and go and start looking elsewhere.

Pop Quiz – How many of the five largest companies in the world (by revenue) explore oil? Four of them.

How many of these four do you think start looking elsewhere when they hit a reserve and don’t do the “boring” process of enlarging the hole they just made to extract, refine and then sell the oil?

What’s boring in your business?

Now answer this question – What’s the boring bit of your business that you have been avoiding which you know will have a massive positive impact on your bottom line?

So here’s the lesson – embrace the boring parts of your business and you will be shocked at how much value you will release into your business, not least because you stop yourself chasing the shiny objects. 

If  you’re still with me, congratulations on your ability to wade through the hype and consistently do what is right for your business – even it is boring!

If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.

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If you would like to have an obligation free discussion about selling your business, please email shweta@growthidea.co.uk. You can find more about our investment criterion on https://growthidea.co.uk/private-equity.

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