A few weeks ago, I attended Vision, the annual conference organised by Bristol Media for the collective creative industry. Vision’s mission is;“to open your mind to new ideas and new ways of thinking, compelling you to challenge conventions and gain a deeper understanding of how others are thinking.”
And boy did it do that for me.
I can’t stop thinking about a concept that I heard at the conference. In fact, I’m a little obsessed. The groundbreaking ‘idea’ (for me) came from one of the keynotes, Blair Enns, founder of ‘Win Without Pitching’. In his presentation, Blair talked about the five ‘constraints’ that should be in place in an ideal world for a business to be truly successful and innovative. Blair was relating to creative agencies, but his principles would be relevant for any and all entrepreneurial enterprises.
The principle that got me all fired up is the principle of No Exit.
What Blair means is that entrepreneurs should build their businesses with no end in mind. No selling and no retiring. No golden handshake at the end of years of toil and business building. Your business is with you until your dying day. In sickness and in health. This is it.
In a time where many start-ups are built with the Exit in mind, this thinking is actually quite revolutionary. But what does it mean in reality?
In the No Exit reality, founders of businesses build their strategy around the belief that they will live through and see the results of their growth. It’s more than just looking at the ‘long game’. It’s looking at infinity and beyond. By developing a No Exit mindset, Blair believes that businesses will be more innovative, more disruptive, more transformative and will truly have mission, vision and values at their core. If a founder knows that he or she will be with his creation until his last breath, he or she will make darn sure that every cog, process, task and client relationship is working at its optimum and has longevity. If something isn’t working, then you fix it. If a client isn’t working out for you. You politely move on.
In a world of No Exit, there’s no room for dross or compromise. When you know that you are not working with an end goal in mind, even if it’s a whimsical ‘one-day things will be different’, then it really demands value based working. Both for you and your customers. There’s also the freedom to be truly creative with your business when you know you are not looking for an end in mind.
This No Exit principle has changed the way I view my business, Abode PR. Knowing that this is the business that I will have until my last breath is both incredibly exciting and feels very daring.
It’s not that I have been thinking that one day I might sell or retire, but subconsciously that thought is always there. So, if Abode PR is it for me, what’s my manifesto? Firstly, I’d slow right down. If I’m here for a while, then growth can happen slowly. I’ll only work with clients that I both enjoy a good working relationship with and that I believe in. I’ll take more risks. I’ll innovate more. I’ll make having a solid team of people that I want to spend time with, and make magic happen with, my priority.
But most of all, I’ll fully and unreservedly enjoy the journey.