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Why Genius is a Myth

Early in my career I thought owning a business was reserved for those who are extraordinary thinkers and achievers – individuals that are of an unparalleled and unachievable genius. My eventual realization, and the impetus for starting my own company, is that this kind of genius is a myth. True genius, and the backbone of entrepreneurship is simple: hard work.

The long-term success of my company will depend on our ability to provide newer and better services and products. The idea that a genius can provide those things better than anyone else simply because they’re a genius is false. I’ve found a much greater truth to be that a normal person will provide newer and better things because they are honed through failure, they lean heavily on professional relationships, they’re able to keep their wits about them with the financial solvency of the business, and are capable of delivering on their commitments.

1. Relationships

My company provides digital and social media services for small businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. Most of our clients have been accrued through personal and professional references. These relationships formed the foundation of the company when we were first getting started.

The myth in this scenario is that successful companies lean on game-changers and top-tier employees capable of attracting high-paying and high profile clients, when in reality, the foundation of any business depends on a scalable business model that – at least initially – depends on a very small clientele willing to take a risk by investing in your company. That trust is derived from the personal and professional networks that you’re able to bring to the table. This point also includes the necessity to be open to partnerships and collaboration and the opportunity to learn from companies that may otherwise be perceived as competition for market share.

These relationships offer you the ability to fail early on and, with all failure, will also be equal-parts opportunity for growth. When you do fail, these relationships will be the ones that you will be able to lean on to get back up and keep fighting.

2. Financial Finesse

Work to know your numbers, because it’s the fruit of all of your other labor.

The myth in managing your financial success is that you have to outsource this portion of your business to an expensive accountant and that it’s not worth investing creative energies in something like your accounting. In reality, it shouldn’t take a lot of time or money to manage your finances yourself. In truth, knowing your numbers will be a real advantage. You’ll have a better understanding of where your time is spent, and what is (or maybe isn’t) working well with your business model. This is the opportunity to take a deep-dive into the anatomy of your business – don’t miss that opportunity.

3. Delivery on Commitments

I believe one of the most under-appreciated components in business is the real value of being able to deliver on your commitments.

The myth here is that you need a genius-caliber list of MBA buzzword-filled deliverables outlined from hours spent in at a whiteboard-filled conference room. The reality is that clients want the simple truth, not a pie-in-the-sky ideal. In my experience, a client will be ten times happier with a service provided on time and within the estimated scope of work, instead of something delivered late with more flare. I’m not arguing for smothering creativity and innovation but the trust and respect established from the execution of tasks on time and from real due-diligence cannot be overstated.

The genius myth ultimately implies that there are people out there doing things the “the easy way” and making it work because they have something you don’t. Maybe those individuals do exist but by and large, the success we non-geniuses can derive from repetitive failure is much more productive.

 

Written by Sam C. Bays

Sam is the Founder and CEO of SPOKE, a digital and creative agency based in DC, where he oversees company growth and works closely with clients to set strategic project goals. You can find him on twitter @samcbays.

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