What Can A Business Owner Learn From A Magician?
My name is Craig and I am a magician. I do magic, if you are really that interested here is a video of what I do!
Allow me to be honest for a minute - magicians as a general rule are terrible business people. Now I am aware that I am generalising and that there are some magicians that are fantastic business owners. However this is the exception rather than the rule.
Most magicians forget that when it comes to Show Business there are two words 'Show' and 'Business'. Magicians will happily spend hours learning a new move to help with the show side of things but they will spend next to no time or energy improving their business.
I met a magician the other day who is technically very gifted and also very respected within the magic community. I asked him what he does to generate leads; he told me he does nothing and hopes that the phone will ring. This is a very common attitude among the magic community.
This is one of the reasons myself and my company have been so successful. We aren't doing anything special, all we are doing is putting in place systems and procedures to ensure that the company runs smoothly. I have competitors call me all the time asking for help and advice and when I tell them what they need to do, they rarely listen.
The irony here is that business owners can learn a lot from magicians. There are certain things that magicians do that have applications in the business world no matter what the industry. Here are a few examples of how you can use a little magic to make your business more successful:
Think A Few Steps Ahead Of Everyone Else
A good magician thinks several steps ahead of the audience. While you as a spectator are wondering how the coin vanished, the magician will be trying to work out how to take your watch. Within your business you should be doing the same thing. Everyday you should be thinking long term. It's no good taking each day as it comes. You need to have short term, medium term and long term goals. Planning ahead is very important.
Be Prepared To Change Things Up
It's rare for a magician to tell you ahead of time what is meant to happen at the end of the trick. The reason for this is simple, if something goes wrong mid trick the magician can change the outcome without you realising that he has done so.
The perfect example is an event I performed at last night. A made a gentleman's £20 note vanish and I wanted to make it appear in my wallet. However this was not possible so I slipped it into his pocket instead, without him realising. At the end of the trick the money appeared in his pocket - a great trick. Although if I had said at the beginning that the money would appear in my wallet, the trick would have been viewed as a failure.
In business we have to be prepared to change even if we have a plan in place. This might be because the current plan isn't working, there might be an obviously better way to do things or an opportunity presents itself. Another example of this, is that I have recently opened a letting agency. I had no plans to move into this industry at all. However an opportunity presented itself and I took it. It's important to be prepared to change and to look out for opportunities to do so.
Misdirection Is Essential
Misdirection is a magicians most important skill. Most magicians master this very early on in their career. Misdirection simply means making someone look somewhere else. For example, how do I make a coin disappear? It's happening in my left hand while you are looking in the right hand.
So how does this relate to business? Misdirection is a great way to handle problems within your business. Let's say for example you have had a bad review from a customer and they decide to post it all over the internet. Everywhere you look this person is posting about how your company is terrible. The instinct is this situation is to attack the reviewer head on and shout as loud as you can about how it's all lies but from experience I can tell you that this just makes things worse.
Instead use misdirection to direct the attention of the public away from the review and towards somewhere else. Plan an event that gets everyone excited, announce a special promotion, or launch a new product. Basically get people talking about something else other than the problem at hand. There are hundreds of situations that occur in business where you can misdirect people - you just need to look.
Get To Know Your Competition
One thing the magic community gets right is that everyone gets along even though they are in direct competition with each other. Magicians have a common love - the love of magic. Most professional magicians started off as hobbyists and even though they now compete against each other they still remain friends. There are hundreds of magic societies around the world and even groups on Facebook designed to pass referrals onto each other.
In business we would be a lot better off if we tried to work with our competitors instead of strategising ways to beat them. I do a lot of networking and in many cases I will be in a room with three accountants, two business coaches etc. I find it fascinating that a lot of the time these groups of people ignore each other. In realty the best thing that they could do is to develop relationships. There are many benefits of developing strategic alliances but the sad fact is that most business owners will never realise how important this is.
Always Have An Out
This follows on from what I mentioned about being prepared to change. Magicians obsess about having an out for every trick they perform. In fact some tricks have multiple outs. An out, simply put, is a contingency plan so that if the trick goes wrong they know what to do. This is important as when you are performing magic things can (and frequently do) go wrong. By having an out rather than failing you can still bring the trick to a successful conclusion.
Do you have contingency plans within your business? If everything goes wrong what would you do? It is easy to say to yourself that nothing will go wrong but remember Murphy's Law - anything that can go wrong will go wrong. The bottom line is, it is much better to be proactive rather than reactive.
One thing I can say about magicians is that the vast majority of them work very hard. Your typical magician will spend hours working on a new trick or on a new move. As i said earlier, the problem is that magicians spend their time working on tricks and forget their business. However the work ethic is to be commended.
Are you working hard within your business? If you are a business owner or you are self employed then you need to work hard. If you think otherwise you are just kidding yourself and you may as well get a job where you can work 9 to 5. As a business owner you need to work hard but unlike magicians make sure you are working hard doing the right thing. It is very easy within business to be a busy fool and spend all day working and not getting anywhere. It's important to focus and ensure your hard work ultimately pays off.
Have A Great Attitude
A lot of magicians have an ego the size of a planet. You have to have an ego to stand in front of people and pretend you have magical powers! I'll be the first to admit that I have an ego. In order to stand in front of hundreds of people and pretend to be a magician you have to think that you are amazing.
It's the same in business. If you want to succeed as a business owner (and I mean truly succeed not just get by) you have to have a great attitude. You have to 100% believe that your business is the best and that you are going to be really successful. If you don't believe you can be successful how will your customers and clients ever believe in you?
Now it's one thing having a great attitude but it's another thing maintaining that attitude. I have performed in front of hundreds of audiences and many times I have had to win the audience over. They started off almost wanting to hate me but ended up loving me. The reason for this is that I went in thinking I was the best and kept thinking that all the way through the show. It would have been very easy for me to give up and accept that I had died on my arse and run off with my tail tucked between my legs. However I never gave up and kept believing in myself.
You need this mentality as a business owner as well. There will be times when you are tested, when things aren't going your way and you feel like giving up. It's at moments like this where you have to work harder than ever before to maintain your positive attitude. The real skill is believing in yourself and your business even when everything is crumbling around you.
Learn From Your Failures And Successes
I have died on stage more times than I care to remember. When this happens I cannot help but reflect on the show and try and figure out what went wrong and what I could have done better. However when a show is successful I never used to analyse what happened. I would be too busy thinking how awesome I was and how the audience loved me. After a while I realised that reflecting on a good show is just as important as looking back at a bad one.
Often when I have stormed a show on stage there is something that has happened that I have never done before that I will want to incorporate into future shows. Maybe a line, a joke or something small.
When you are running your own business make sure you are doing the same thing. Always look back at what you have done and try to improve. If you did something that worked what can you take from this to incorporate into your business? If something bad happened how can you learn from it? What can you do differently so that it won't happen again? Always ensure you are learning from your successes and failures as that way you will always be developing and growing.
So there you have it: if you make sure that you follow a few magicians' principles it will ultimately have a positive impact on your business.
Thanks for reading