(and how it can help you grow your own business)

Much as I would like to tell you otherwise (because it would somehow feel better not to call out some of the funny little “untruths” that roll around the internet), the big “secret” to building a successful, sustainable business is NOT having a mailing list the size of Manhatten. Nor is it selling 600 tickets to an online webinar in which you perfectly present your signature offer and enrol 75% of the participants. Nor is it blogging every day and saying something so very profound that the whole world tweets it within 24 hours. And no, it isn’t even that you need to have 72 sales conversations in three months with a conversion rate of 25% which calculates to a gross revenue of blah blah blah… And frankly, I am not even that sure that the secret to success is your mindset, either, because I know some pretty successful people whose thoughts are often in the dumper.

Nope. The secret to building a successful business is none of those things…or it could be all of those things…and yes, I just contradicted myself mightily but let me explain…

I believe that the true secret sauce for success is one thing: alignment.

The work that you do must align with your core values. If you believe that it is immoral to lie, then your work in which you pretend to be a single woman looking for a partner on an online dating site is not going to be successful.

The work that you do must align with your personality. If the very idea of stepping in front of a crowd of people and giving a talk makes your knees shake and your heart pound, then public speaking is absolutely not the best way for you to build your business.

The work that you do must align with your passion(s). If you’re passionate about the ecology of the soil to create sustainable farming, and you’re instead building a business that makes widgets in a factory in Omaha, then in all likelihood, you shan’t succeed.

The work that you do must align with your vision for the future of the planet, of humanity. If you believe in your heart of hearts that the future of our people lay in the reduction of fossil fuel consumption but your company burns coal like chain-smokers burn tobacco, then you’ve got yourself a problem.

The work that you do must align with the way that you want to feel about yourself, and your life. If you feel that it is important to stretch and grow, to evolve and change, then building a business that is centred around one product that must stay exactly the same in order for it to be effective and efficient forevermore, then in all likelihood, your business will not survive.

And finally, the work that you do must align with your core message, the legacy that you want to leave the world. If your core message is about inclusivity and co-operation among leaders and team members, but your business is created in such a way that it isolates the managers and the C-suite from those who work in the mailroom, then things will not flourish as you so desire them to.

You see, your business is an energetic, moving, breathing entity, and much as sound waves amplify in the presence of other sound waves of the same frequency, your business will grow and amplify in the presence of energy that resonates with it. Energy that is in alignment, that is similar to it, will cause it to grow, and will carry the sound further, too!

And so it stands to reason that the energy that you put into your business in every facet from the things you do to market your product, to the people that you hire for your team, to the ways in which you conduct meetings, to the manner in which you speak to your customers, must match, must be in alignment with those things that are most critical to your personal definition of success: your core values, your personality, your passion, your vision for the future of humanity, the way in which you want to feel about yourself and your life, and your core message or the legacy which you wish to leave the world.

And this is also why there is no “one-size-fits-all” way to grow a business. Those that succeed in business when they follow another’s method for business-building are those that are inherently in alignment with the person who developed that method. And so that is why it is beneficial for them to follow that person’s plan and strategy, but it isn’t of use for their colleague who is not in alignment with the originator of that strategy. Hence, some people in group coaching programs see their businesses grow like wildfire…and others? Their businesses often begin to fail because they are doing things that are simply not in alignment with who they are and what’s important to them.

As a coach and consultant, this has been perhaps one of the greatest learnings of my career. Each time I begin my work with a new client, I toss out my own notions of what would be “best,” what would “work,” what would “lead them to success,” because I am not the expert in THEM. I do not know my client well enough to even begin to guess what would work for them – how presumptuous! It is my job, however, to get to know them that well, to get to understand who they are, how they function, what is key to them as individuals, so that I can see and create a plan and a strategy that is in alignment with those pieces. And it is THAT strategy that then becomes our road map to their success.

So the next time you’re confronted with a “secret” to success, or a “thing you simply must do” to make your business wildly profitable, I invite you to pause and consider: is that action in alignment with your core values? Does it resonate with your personality? Are you passionate about it? Does it fit with the way in which you view the planet and the best future for humanity? Will it satisfy the way in which you truly desire to feel about your life? Does it match the legacy you wish to leave in the world? And if so, then that “secret” to success will work for you, absolutely…but if not, then it’s a secret best left to those for whom it does match, and you’ll do much better forging your own plan and creating your own “secrets” along the way.