Be prepared. It’s one surefire way to improve your chances for success.

More Creativity - More Ideas - More Fun

More Creativity – More Ideas – More Fun!

Parents prepare. Teachers prepare. Students prepare. Chefs and shoppers prepare. Businesses and leaders prepare. Doctors and athletes prepare. Heck, “Be prepared” is even the Boy Scouts long-time motto.

Sure, some folks find success out of sheer luck, but I tend to believe even in those cases, “luck” is more about learning of an opportunity, while being prepared is what allows someone to identify and seize upon the opportunity given, thereby finding success. True, blind-luck success stories are few and far between.

We learn about preparation early on. Take school for example. There, we learn (some quicker than others) that preparation in the form of note taking and studying is the surest form of guaranteeing success on that mid-term or final exam. We even prepare to get our drivers’ licenses with hours of practice and hours of over steers and lurching stops.

As adults, we discover that preparation pays off in our various professional pursuits as well. For the successful, preparation becomes habit forming, a way of life.

Consider these simple suggestions on how preparation can help you get ahead:

  • Prepare to talk about yourself and your products and services in the least likely of places at the least likely of times. In the elevator, on the athletic field, in the grocery store, or in the parking lot—you never know when opportunity will knock. Be prepared to deliver your benefit/value statement. Sometimes, clients, customers, and even prospective employers can come from the least likely of sources. Have a business card or even a resume close at hand at all times!
  • Be prepared to offer options and alternatives to your prospects and current clients. In business, one size does not fit all. When you’re prepared, you are better able to respond to client requests and tailor your offerings to their needs. If you sold shoes, you wouldn’t carry size 8 only, would you? No two clients are alike.
  • If you are up for a promotion or are looking to make a career change, prepare by learning all you can about the position, any new employer, and even your new boss or coworkers. With the Internet and access to social media, chances are with a little forethought you can find out all you want to know (and then some!) with a few hours of online research.
  • Prepare for new client pitches by researching the client thoroughly. Again, the Web is a great resource, especially if the client has been around for a while. Access the client’s Web site, access competitor Web sites. Note what the client needs and how the client communicates with target customers; note how others market to the client. Next identify how you are different and how you can bring your client-to-be the most value.
  • Prepare by staying prepared. Keep on top of latest trends in your field or industry. Subscribe to blogs and the Web sites and social media pages of organizations that operate in your niche. Join a networking or leads group. PARTICIPATE. Being able to adapt and remain nimble—to be prepared to shift gears as client needs and market trends dictate—is often critical to your success. All it takes is a little preparation.

Ultimately, though, there are two very important aspects of preparation:

(1) You must prepare for SUCCESS and (2) You must prepare for FAILURE.

Being prepared for success—What would happen to you personally and professionally if your big idea became THE NEXT BIG IDEA? What if what you do really took off in a big way? What would you do with a newfound demand for your services, your time, your attention? What would you do with an ever-expanding wad of cash? How would success affect your marriage, your relationships, your day-to-day routine, your lifestyle?

Sure, success would be a great problem to have, but look around you and you’re likely to find ready examples of those who were not prepared for success—from extreme examples of child stars run amok and superstar athletes going off the rails, to successful businessmen and women whose marriages and relationships could not survive the newfound prosperity.

One way to prepare for success is to have a plan and to talk about it with others in your life—especially your spouse or significant other. Consider connecting with successful people you encounter through networking groups or your business relations. How have they handled success? How have they balanced demands on their personal and professional time? How have they been able to pay it forward?

You must also be prepared for failure—In some ways, life has been preparing you for the eventuality of some sort of “failure” from day one. You probably didn’t get an “A” on every test or paper; you probably didn’t get picked first for every playground team or make first string in every sport you tried out for. That’s OK. Failure happens all the time. It’s how we deal with failure that separates the winners from the losers, and much of how we limit the impact of our failures has to do with being prepared.

I ALWAYS prepare to succeed, no matter what the endeavor, whether it’s a friendly game of volleyball or a client business pitch. At the same time, though, I am ALWAYS prepared for failure. From having a fallback plan (a Plan “B” or even a Plan “C” to my initial Plan “A”) to having a cushion of time and resources available to help me overcome any setbacks. I also prepare emotionally. Much about business revolves around people and relationships, but to be truly successful and to be able handle the inevitable failures, one must learn to separate business from personal matters. You hear athletes say it all the time—“Football is a business” or “They traded me for business reasons”—because to consider every failure on the field or inability to stick with a team a personal rejection would be emotionally draining, if not demoralizing. The same goes for traditional business settings. Not every prospect will want to buy your product or service; nor will you be able to retain every current client or customer—even those you consider friends—and you need to be prepared for such realities. It may feel as though it’s personal, but most times it’s not; it’s just business.

From education and experience to building up your business and surrounding yourself with family and friends who love you, how have you prepared for success?

Share your ideas here.