Shine Bright as Edison

Barron the Businessman, Edge the Entrepreneur and Tony the Tradesman represent the three figurative “voices” in my head. Like the voices in the heads of most small business owners, in their different perspectives, they argue, disagree, and sometimes disrespect each other.
Read more about them here: 3-Headed Business Owners. Who wins and in what measure, controls your business.
That’s why this Three Headed Owner blog post series is for you. To entertain you. To inform you. To make you think through key decisions that matter to your business. 
Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Tony: I was watching a special the other night on TV about Thomas Edison.  He was brilliant, and I decided we need to restructure everything about our business to be more like him!

Barron: Yeah, I agree. Edison was fabulously wealthy in his heyday – you mean we need to be like that?

Tony: Of course that’s what you’d think, Barron! But no! What I really meant is that we should be as focused on perfecting our work as he was on tirelessly refining his inventions!

Edge: What, we’re talking about the greatest inventor of all time and all you’re focused on is how much of a control freak he was?! That’s crazy! We should dream like he did – that’s his life lesson. Break out of the mold. Do something new. Different. His brain was an amazing idea-manufacturing machine!

Barron: And, Tony, just how focused on perfecting things was Edison in the way he invested his riches? Didn’t he move into a shack and almost go broke trying to – what’s your favorite word? – “perfect” a new method of mining iron?

Tony: Yeah, but that was before he*… (*went on to invent motion pictures)

Barron: But what?! Profit is all that matters in business! And it proves why you can’t always trust those big ideas guys like Edison.

Edge: Barron, you can be as greedy as greedy gets and blind to what truly matters. Edison is one of the greatest men to ever live!

He invented the light bulb, sound recording, motion pictures and countless other things! And revolutionized the world with his inventions. So what if he lost some money on ONE of the things he tried! Tony’s right, he was brilliant because he had unbelievable creativity and ideas. 

Tony: Ahem – thanks Edge for the vote of confidence, it’s not often I get any props from you! But just to clarify, what was brilliant about Edison was his insistence on getting things right. He took over 1,000 times to get the electric light bulb right. Now, that’s my kind of guy!

He was a genius because he always got it right. Our business should be more like him!

Barron: Edison was a genius because he invented things that made him rich! Our business should be more like him!

Edge: He was a genius because he had great ideas nobody ever thought of before. I’m a lot like him and you guys should be too!


The Judge:

Tony is right about us aspiring to be like Edison.

We own a small business. We don’t have a big name. We don’t have deep pockets. Compared to the big dogs, we’re limited! To overcome that, we’ve got to offer something they don’t, won’t or can’t. And that thing is high quality and great service in everything we do. If we can’t give those things to our customers, we’ve got no advantage that sets us apart.

So, we need to make it possible for Tony to do his work with high quality and great service. Barron, that means when you’re doing your estimates on his jobs, you need to price them in anticipation of a little extra “contingency” time.

We all know Tony’s not leaving ‘til he gets it right. More to a point nearer and dearer to your heart, Barron, our customers aren’t coming back if he doesn’t get it right – so we don’t want him to anyway!

But Edge is on to something important too, Edison was great because of his creativity. We too have to take the risks in dreaming up and trying new and different things. If we could invent in our business’ lifetime what Edison did in a single month, think of where we could be! And, in that function, Edge is “our guy” as he so humbly observed.

If we do Tony’s things well, we could be known for always upholding the golden rule in the quality of our work. If we empower Edge to do his thing well, we could be flocked to by customers for our innovation. We could literally change people’s lives for the better. We could be truly great – like Edison! 

And though getting rich should never be the driving force behind what we do, Barron, if we go the great route in what we do we could be that too.

If we are legitimately great in our practices, ideas, and impacts upon others, everyone will get what we most want out of our business. We’ll be financially comfortable. Able to get away when we need to re-charge. And have great fun running our business!

This is a plan for you, too, small business owner reader! How will you adopt all or parts of this plan to make your business great, like Edison? You can start today by putting your business model to the test. Two free tools to find out are available here for download.

Long live small business! Long live small business owners!

Jim Smith, Founder, PERFORMIDABLE, LLC