Boss Lady

To ‘wing it’ or not to ‘wing it’


Does this bother you, Ingrid?” Karen asked me. “Too right it does!”  And it really does bother me. And it’s starting to bother a lot of other people as well.

What’s the bother all about?

Have you noticed the growing message being peddled that “starting a business is easy?”  That running a business is all money rolling into the bank and “six-figure incomes” while the business owner is either at the beach with a laptop or barely working more than school hours during school terms. There is even a new label, the School-Term-preneur.

Winging it

The latest new twist to this business is easy message and just “fly by the seat of your pants,” is being touted as “winging it”.

The “Winging it” phrase is in the clever title of a new book by highly a successful business woman who I personally admire for what she does and is doing for women in business. Her book encourages and inspires women who want to start their own business, to give it a go.  Yep, I totally agree – get out there and test out your idea!

A recent Sydney event included sessions to encourage women to ‘wing it’, and just get started.

Here’s my thing though.  Sure, taking action is critical to success – but it also requires solid foundations, planning and information to make good decisions.

The entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur does one take risks? Yes.

Does one make a leap of faith? Absolutely.

Does one go where no-one else has gone before? Totally. That’s the definition of entrepreneur.

Is it important to put yourself out there? 100%.

Do you need to keep on keeping on? Yes, this is the only way you’ll succeed.

But do you truly just ‘wing it’? I think not. Nyet. Nada. No. Never.

The people sprouting the “winging it” message are really talking about risking it: take the information, the experience, the history, the research and make a decision to take the risk.

This is not the same as winging it.  By definition ‘winging it’ means to be unprepared. To do something impromptu with little preparation.  The expression comes from the theatre, where it alludes to the actor studying his part in the wings (the areas either side of the stage) because he has been suddenly called on to replace another actor.*

There is a story I heard many years ago about the gold rush. The story asks – Who made big money during the gold rush? Was it the people looking for gold?  Mostly not.

Who did make the big money? It was the people selling the shovels, it was the publicans selling the beer, whiskey, food and accommodation, it was the bordello owners – that’s who made the big money.

A few gold seekers “struck it rich” finding a nugget. Most gold seekers found small nuggets, and many were worse off than before they headed to the gold fields.

This analogy applies today. There is serious money to be made in the promise of being successful in business. “You can be like me.”

While some women will indeed be successful, many will barely cover the cost of being in business and many will in fact be worse off.

The stats show that 4 out of 5 businesses fail. The Suncorp Report reveals that 60% of business owners have not paid themselves in the past two years and 80% have never paid any superannuation.**

There is an edge of irresponsibility in the glamorisation of starting a business by telling people they can simply “wing it.”   There is a danger of encouraging (especially) women to risk themselves financially with the “just go for it and wing it” message.

Forget winging it, here’s the reality

To be successful in business requires some basic foundations:

  1. Do you have a business mindset and belief in yourself? This is where the inspirational “you can do what I did” message is super helpful and completely necessary.
  2. Is your idea viable? Just because you are in love with your idea, with your product – doesn’t mean that everyone else will be!
  3. Do you know how to make money? And do you have a roadmap or plan to make money consistently? Being good at what you do is not enough to generate money.
  4. Do you know how and where to find your ideal customer? Can you sell?
  5. Do you have the systems, and processes in place to ensure ongoing financial sustainability?

Marketing and social media are the “fun stuff”. Planning, systems, processes, methodologies and numbers – these are seen as dull, boring, not-sexy and most people want to avoid them as much as possible. Yet these are the very aspects in business that lead to success. You really can “wing it” when you have these covered, the foundations in place to let you fly.

Being in business is an exciting adventure and everyone walks – or runs – their own road!!  Don’t be bluffed into thinking that it’s easy. It is fun.  It is challenging.   And it certainly can be very rewarding.  But easy? Never.

Steve Jobs was the master of making something look super easy. So many people still believe that he was “winging it” when he presented on stage. That easy ‘winging it’ feeling came from every nano-second of the presentation being planned, processed, practiced, and orchestrated.  Eventually, on “show day”, it looked “easy.”

If we all paid that much attention to making our business look like we are ‘winging it’ – we’d all be as successful as Apple. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

* Wikipedia

** Suncorp report.

About Ingrid Thompson

Ingrid Thompson is the Founder of Healthy Numbers which is a training and coaching business. She is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost authorities when it comes to small business startups. She is devoted to helping them set solid foundations while ensuring they are under no false illusion about cost, commitment and consistency. While Ingrid works with all small businesses, she has a particular passion for working with health and wellbeing professionals. They are extremely good at what they do yet rarely have the opportunity to learn business acumen training and education. Ingrid is also the author of “So You want to Start a Business; the 7 Step guide to Create, Start and Grow your own Business”. The book is available on Booktopia, Amazon and Ingrid’s website:

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