Small Business Karate: Earn Your Black Belt

small business success
Will + ability = success
Many small businesses fail these days without the process or discipline to succeed. When all the excuse-making is said and done, do you have the will and the ability to survive and thrive?

A few weeks ago I watched the culmination of 4 years worth of work that started at the ripe old age of six. Huh? As impossible as it seems, 4th graders can set a goal, focus on it (kind of), and progressively actualize it one step at a time. I’m talking about my son Jack, who just attained a black belt in Karate. This was a big deal to all the kids and adults in his class, reminding me of achieving my Eagle Scout as a teenager, and this dad was beaming!

These guys were unbelievable, and on the tough 6 hour day of final examination and ultimate celebration, it was amazing to see not only Jack but everybody in the class crackle with an accuracy you wouldn’t think conceivable.

So how’s this pertain you as a business owner? Here are 5 Steps in Black Belt Mastery for your company.

Progressive, Manageable Goals

Do you know how many colored belts you need to complete in order to get a black belt? 13 of them! Somewhere one of Gary Larson’s talking animals is saying “What the?!”

There is white, white & yellow, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, purple & yellow, brown, brown & yellow, red, red & black (danbo), and at long last, black belt.

Each one of these is a little step along the way, a small goal that makes the end goal more obtainable. It takes a few years, and the Masters of Karate understand that.

Your business needs big, hairy, audacious goals to be certain. It gives you the brass ring to strive for. But break that down into procedure steps that result in little successes, advancements toward the end goal.

I help companies get noticed using web video promotion. I put sound, amusing and informative video interviews together and work to get clients on a schedule of video releases. We may film all the videos together for convenience, but the process is staged with small, press-release style videos that are easy to create and deliver.

Establish and Adhere to a Process

Processes are like noses in business. Everybody has one. Guess what? I don’t have to have the greatest sense of smell in the world to know when something stinks; I just should use the nose I have.

So it is with procedures. Jack’s black belt training requires a philosophy, knowledge of seemingly immaterial things, and little memorized procedures called forms that the students use to establish physical eye to hand coordination and control. Does Jack’s school use the greatest process to train Karate? Who knows and who cares! They use and follow a process and stick to it.

In the video example above, content creation is a procedure. The questions and answer format is a simple, fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire for creating the compelling content that the executive needs to connect with his target market.

I don’t care if it’s the best process in the world and neither do the companies who hire me. I step into a vacuum void of leads, and my processes are better than the ones that the marketing team doesn’t have.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Many a night my son got home from Karate at 9 pm, afterwards we battled our way (literally) through his homework until 10:30 or so. Ever try to keep a 9 or 10 year old concentrated academics at 10:00 at night?

The goal acceleration and training was so focused and regimented, it required countless hours to accomplish mastery at each of the belt levels I detailed. Credit the little guy, he put in the time with a little arm twisting.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, I learned it takes 10,000 hours to attain mastery in any area, be it sports or computer programming. True success outliers are those that either by chance or by plan find a way to get those 10,000 hours under their belts.

What about you? What does your business stake it’s claim on being the best at? Have you put in your time? Can you? You need to practice your business guitar until your fingers bleed, my friend. The sales guys aren’t going to get good at making calls until they’re making 125 a week or more, every week, over and over again. Lessons from a 10 year old.

Solicit Vocal Supporters

Whenever the Karate students tryout for their next belt, be it a brown belt or a 4th degree black belt, the Dojo is filled with rabid fans, both other students, parents and friends. It gets noisy, with board breaking being the culmination of the exhibition. The students punch and kick boards to loud applause, and you can feel the energy encouraging the little ones who may miss on the first few tries. In fact, I’ve seen 6 years olds kick a board until his foot was throbbing in pain until he broke it, limping off the mat to a standing O.

In your small business, you may do all the work but don’t go it alone. If your spouse is not on board and wants you to go get a real job, it is exceptionally hard to succeed in spite of that lack of support. But, if he or she is inspiring you on every time you fail, you’ll find a way to smash your way to the finish line too, even while limping across with an exhausted smile on your face.

Try, Try, Try Again

How many of Jack’s class failed doing their forms or breaking boards or sparring? All of them, repeatedly. Gentle correction from the instructor, try again. As part of Jack’s final black belt testing, he had to create a staged self-defense skit with other kids his size. He and his partner tried a number of things in the weeks leading up to the big day, each time failing, adjusting, getting creative, failing again, and changing tact one more time until finally a success!

I market my own business with this blog and my website mostly. I fail regularly to get a conversion, or to get the copy right, or to finish the squeeze page the way I wanted. I post articles that I think are amazing and less than a dozen people read or re-tweet them. I just have this belief that sooner or later I will run out of ways to fail and find just the right mix to get the results I’m looking for. No I’m not going to mention Thomas Edison, damn! Just did.

So if you’ve gotten this far you’ll realize that the Business Black Belt is not the Karate Black Belt or the Six Sigma Black Belt. It’s not accredited by a governing body. It’s you as a business owner exhibiting the willpower, determination and discipline to heed the steps in this post to burst through your boards and obtain ultimate success.

Author Profile
Karl WalinskasEveryone in the dojo notices a blackbelt.   Are customers, partners and employers noticing you?   SmartVu video interviews get you on the map!   Karl Walinskas owns and operates Smart Company Growth, a business growth firm that helps white collar professionals.   Stop in to check out the Smart blog or get special informational goodies for aggressive entrepreneurs and business owners looking to break out.

SMB Authors

This article is one of the excellent contributions from small business owners, decision makers and professionals.