The “not-so-secret” secret

In 2006 a book by Rhonda Byrne called The Secret made headlines as a blueprint for creating wealth and abundance through positive thinking. Over 21 million people bought Byrne’s dogma for personal and financial success.


In 2011, as I observe the widespread drop in consumer confidence in the SME sector and the escalating market panic by both business and consumers, I was reminded of the phenomenon of The Secret emerging at a very similar time.


As examined in my last blog, state-of-mind, when it comes to market shifts strongly determines an individuals approach to boom and bust cycles as one of excitement or terror – a time to capitalise on market gaps, or fill your mattress with cash and take a secure job in the public sector.


Before The Secret (BS) we had globally been living the dream, with investment cash freely available, the internet and its dotcom renaissance 2.0 keeping the entrepreneurial spirit buoyant.


Businesses and individuals were widely encouraged to over gear, spending with a zealous optimism as the warning signs of economic trouble were decried as rank pessimism.


By 2006 however, the US economy was tanking fast, beginning the disastrous slide that eventually became the global financial crisis.  


The cult of optimism was losing its leaders, then along comes Byrne, with a text that claimed to be able to unlock the secret to creating whatever you want, from the material to the emotional, and bam, international notoriety and a legion of believers to back up her claims.


The Secret ironically totally demonstrated its claims, creating a new breed of “spiritualpreneurs” who leveraged its message to make a multi-billion dollar industry out of people hungry to get back to their pre-austerity lifestyles.


This in itself indicates the type of opportunities that emerge in a market rampant with consumer doubt – the desire to have faith in a market-driven economy reinvigorated so we can get back to not counting the cost.


Long before The Secret, Frank Lloyd Wright, the American architect, interior designer, writer and educator said: “The thing always happens that you really believe in, and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”


Successful start-ups undoubtedly need belief in their “thing”; if you don’t believe in your offering who will? A practice of focusing on the positive goals of your business is essential, no matter what intellectual approach you take, from atheism to evangelism.


The secret to start-up sustainability and survival, however, is that positive thinking must be balanced by an equally zealous embrace of risk management and the foundations of sustainable business: the right business model, an identifiable, measurable and accessible market, and the skills and resources to weather both storms and scale-up.


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