We are short of resources for the development. Where can we find any?
It is great if this question is important to you: you are on the right track, your business is alive and – most importantly - has every chance to live on. After all, the feeling of lack of resources for development is a sure sign that you see new opportunities and you need new resources to implement them. In fact, seeing opportunities to create something new, innovative is the first quality of a businessman that distinguishes him from other people. It can be a new soap that does not sink in water. Or a new way to record sound at home. Or a car as a means of transportation, not an attribute of luxury. Or it can be a powerful computer in everyone's pocket. Or connecting people to a global network. It can be… anything that people didn't have before, but that people need, even though they didn't think about it a few days ago.
But seeing opportunities, being innovative is only part of success. The second part is the ability to find resources to turn your ideas into reality, to turn an opportunity into a market product. But that's not all, either. The third, equally important quality of a businessperson, that makes them different their difference from others, is their determination. Determination to move from one goal to the next and constantly attract more and more new resources.
It seems so when we look at the success stories of legendary businessmen and their companies: William Procter and James Gamble, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – they were the first to see their opportunities in people's emerging needs and succeeded in attracting resources to implement those. And were persistent on this path.
However, names of hundreds of thousands of novice businessmen remained unfamiliar. Grim statistics say that 90% of startups disappear without ever growing into businesses. Moreover, after a successful start, when the idea seems to have turned into a business, in 5, 10, 15 years the company goes bankrupt. And only a few out of hundreds of thousands keep living and developing.
My more than 20 years of experience with business and businessmen, scientific analysis of more than 100 years of world business history give grounds to make the following assumption – it is those businesses die and fail whose founders and leaders had achieved their dreams and stopped there. They had fulfilled what called them to become businessmen, entrepreneurs – those who create something new that other people need. But a new dream has not been born for some reason. And so, having achieved their dream, they lost their ability to see opportunities, lost the strength to persist, and lost the ability to attract resources. They felt successful forever. They decided that their current performance was more important than the future. And they stopped, but the world kept moving on. Without them already.
What does it have to do with dreams; after all, business is about money? – a question that is often asked by businessmen who raise their eyebrows in response to this statement.
Yes, business is about money. And the goal of business is to make money. This is its nature, its function. But other people, those who pay this money to business, have completely different concerns and needs. They want to know what new product, what new quality of their life is offered by this or that business, this or that company. They wonder how your activity brings them closer to the realization of their personal desires, aspirations, dreams. And if your dream at least some way chimes in with their dreams, if your products bring people closer to their own dreams – you are doomed to success. But if not, then…
So your dream not only drives your development and movement; it's also a valuable product and a remarkable competitive advantage.
In this sense, renewable energy is one of the key areas of development today. After all, humanity has enunciated its global dream: to live in the clean environment while enjoying all the benefits offered by modern technologies. And this requires clean, light energy.
The renewable energy business is a business where millions of dreams of completely different people come together. And that is why it is doomed to success. But, as we all know, this success cannot come easy. Because your success means other people's defeat. And those others are trying to throw a spanner in the works.
How can we overcome these obstacles?
Stay persistent and attract more resources.
After all, it is not enough to have an innovative idea that caters to the dreams of millions of people. You still should be able to attract resources to its materialization and be persistent in that.
The key to this is reputation: personally yours, your business, industry, country…
Reputation creates trust in your intentions, and trust means the willingness of people to invest resources in your activities, in your idea.
How can you create such a reputation?
Half a billion – this is how many sources Google returns for a query "reputation management" .But if you put the query like "reputation managment" you will get two thousand returns fewer.
Meanwhile, most successful Ukrainian companies lay emphasis onto their reputation, for they need resources to implement their ideas.
And please do not confuse the reputation with the image. The image is appearance, while reputation begins from inside – the heart, the philosophy of the company, its leaders, its employees. This philosophy affects the company's deeds, as well as those of every its element, the employee. These deeds create the reputation – today's trust in your future intentions that is based on your impeccable deeds in the past.
The next step is to understand that every your deed is public and is perceived and interpreted differently by different stakeholders (stakeholders are those who influence your activities and are influenced by you: the public, business partners, mass media, local and state authorities, investors…). Each stakeholder judges your action from their own perspective, by his/her goal or needs. That is, the same action will be judged differently by different stakeholders: some may want to support you, while others will be annoyed or even angered. More importantly, in today's 'glass world,' where all our actions are transparent and public, stakeholders may share judgements about your actions without your knowing that. And one video accidentally recorded by a client can cause hundreds of millions of damage. This happened to United Airlines in 2017, when one of the air passengers videotaped how another passenger was involuntarily disembarked. This provoked an information scandal that resulted in a catastrophic slump of the company's shares. And this happened, in particular, 'thanks' to the fact that this airline already had a reputation for 'special treatment' of its customers. So people gladly believed in this new case, while the exchange reacted by the airline's shares plunged.
But this is an example from a different reality. What does it have to do with Ukraine and, in particular, the RES industry?
It is quite simple. When, for two years in a row, the information space transmits a message that the feed in tariff is just a means to squeeze extra profits from the state budget for the benefit of a handful of wealthy people, and there are only a few companies that try to explain the benefits of RES for every Ukrainian in response, it is not surprising that the country starts to put pressure on the companies. That is because the information campaign first destroyed the trust that these people and these companies are able to make the dream of a new, modern energy sector in Ukraine come true. And has hurt the reputation of the industry as a whole.
Because many companies in the industry have stopped in their development. They achieved their dream – they had built a successful and stable (as it seemed to them) business and focused on business operations (read, on making money only). But the world was moving on… And all of a sudden it turned out that the passive and short-sighted attitude of some harmed the industry as a whole, turning its reputation from innovative and useful to people into the reputation of speculators and profiteer.
How can we prevent this? How can we build the reputation that helps the business, not destroys it?
Let us imagine that the business is a piano performance. You invite different people to perform a piece of music for them. Those who find this piece useful and believe that you are a pianist able to perform it beautifully, will buy the tickets. Accordingly, you find the right piece of music or write it yourself – this is your innovation, your dream fulfilled in the notes. You are exercising persistently to play it – this is your skills and competencies. You choose the right concert hall – this is your marketing. You put up posters – your advertising. You put on a dress coat and a bowtie – this is your image. You sit down at the piano. And when you hit the keys – do things – every piano string should vibrate in harmony. Now, the path from choosing a play to tuning a piano is a process of the reputation management. It is not enough to find the right melody that will make people happy. Not enough to sell them tickets. It is not enough to hit the keys professionally – to do things in the right order while bringing your innovation to people. You still need to tune the piano, so that every string, every communication your stakeholders could be part of a harmonious melody that brings joy to people. If you can do that all once, then the next time you have to repeat it even better. And then… next time you will sell more tickets. You will receive positive reviews in the press. You will be invited to important meetings. But the real success will come when you write or learn a new play that will give people something new… And it's a never-ending process. This is what distinguishes truly successful companies from 98% of those who stopped and ceased to be.
Today, the Ukrainian RES industry faces certain challenges in its development. Not because it fails to respond to people's dreams and needs. Not because it is not innovative enough. But because it has paid too little attention to its reputation and internal.
Fortunately, the global trend of energy development is stronger than local changes in Ukraine, and humanity has already made its choice, which is unlikely to change. However, the current situation in Ukraine, the marred reputation of the industry that interferes with the resource mobilization, resulted in a crisis for Ukrainian companies, and not everyone will overcome it. But while some see the crisis as a threat, others see a new challenge and new opportunities.
The resources you have are not sufficient for development? Great! This means you have a new dream and you see new horizons for the development. And this is your chance to rehabilitate your reputation to attract new resources and make your dream come true – which resonates with the dreams of your main stakeholders, millions of Ukrainians and people around the world. Those who opted for clean energy.