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Academy award-winning "best original" song, Eye of the Tiger," by rock band Survivor, was the legendary theme song of the motion picture Rocky III.

"It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the spirit of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and it all comes down to survival." 

These famous song lyrics and the Rocky movies became synonymous with grit, perseverance, discipline, overcoming all odds, and winning championships. It's no wonder sports teams and businesses feed off the fuel of this award smashing song and Sylvester Stallone's motivational movies. 

According to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are 33.7 million small businesses making up 99.9% of all businesses. SMB's employ 60.6 million people. But owning and running a small business is no place for the weak of heart. 

  • According to LendEDU, 1 in 12 small businesses closes every year. 
    However, even more troubling...
  • Fundera states that only 50% of SMB's survive for five years. 

It takes grit, perseverance, and discipled dedication to survive in the small business space. The owners that survive have what I call "The 'I' of the Tiger. They innovate. They identify priorities and execute them with precision. They invest continually and boldly.

However, there are three  "'I' of the Tiger" qualities that aren't talked about a lot but are defining differentiators for these survival specialists. 

1. They Isolate. 

Their calendars stay clear. In what is now a legendary story, Bill Gates shared what he found on billionaire Warren Buffet's calendar. He states, "I also remember Warren showing me his calendar. There's nothing on it." Buffet wisely told Gates, "I can buy anything I want but I can't buy time." 

Great business owners and leaders know the power of "no." Best-selling author, Rory Vaden, would say that they "procrastinate on purpose." It's not that they aren't doing things. They not only do things right, they do the right things. They keep their calendar from being cluttered by things that that don't drive the business forward significantly. Their selectivity is a big part of their survival and success. 

2. They Iterate. 

Wikipedia defines Iteration as follows:

"Iteration is the repetition of a process in order to generate an outcome. The sequence will approach some end point or end value. Each repetition of the process is a single iteration, and the outcome of each iteration is then the starting point of the next iteration."

The best of the best fail fast and fail forward. They also don't sleep on their success. They scale it!

It might look like this:

Test. sell. fail. OR Test. sell. scale. 

Change is a constant with top owners. It's a way of life and it's why they win. 

3. They Irritate. 

Owners and leaders that have the "I" of the Tiger understand that leadership is lonely. They don't have to be popular. They don't have to be praised. But, by nature, they do have to push boundaries and challenge assumptions. It's a part of their "survival instinct." They are never satisfied and are big believers in "hunt or be hunted."

Almost every great business owner or leader I know has a coach. They are committed to getting better.

Looking to up your game? A CoachUp Business Review is a great place to start. 

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Dan Whitfield

Written by Dan Whitfield

Dan is dedicated to "coaching up" leaders of growth-oriented non-profits and cause-driven organizations. His goal is to help you gain and retain new donors.