I’m registering for a college class as a 41 year old senior. I haven’t decided what yet, but it will be something in the humanities.

A couple of days ago, I had a call with a consultant who specializes in helping agencies like mine make strategic pivots. We talked about the research I’m completing on agency channels. Like me, he sees a lot of agencies that don’t appear to be operated with much skill, but that are doing quite well in spite of this seeming deficiency.

“Luck is a big factor, ” he said, “especially with agencies.”

There are plenty of people who get lucky. If you’re around long enough, you’ll be one of them.

However, I have a hypothesis that what we ascribe to luck for some of these businesses is actually a deeper level of capability. In other words, when you see a business that is “breaking the rules” and still doing well- it’s not luck. There’s just a non-obvious capability that doesn’t match the model of how we think businesses are supposed to work.

For small businesses, one way this might show up is the owner applying their unique strengths to the business model.

Several years ago, after doing all the “right things” to little effect, I decided to just work on a side project that seemed interesting to me. Viewed from the outside, it was a distraction. But in practice, within a couple of months it changed the business’s trajectory.

The project involved applying insights I had realized while working on the “right things.” I was curious about what was possible and whether those insights could solve an old intractable problem from years past.

And that’s why I’m taking a college class. It’s an opportunity to intentionally exercise my ability to think and learn- something that is a strength of mine. I write this blog for the same reason.

If you, the entrepreneur, have the greatest impact on your business’s success, how might it affect its growth if you deliberately invested in your strengths?

Featured image is of Theseus and Aethra (1635). Theseus had to prove his heroic nature and divine birth by lifting a large rock where his father had left his sandals and sword. By Laurent de La Hyre used under Public Domain.