What about your business excites you to the point that you’re willing to show up daily and invest your time, talent, and money to build it?
If you’re on the entrepreneurial journey, you know that some days are full of sunshine and some are so exasperating that you question whether you should keep going; that the fear of entrepreneurial failure is palpable and you can talk yourself right out of continuing if you’re not careful.
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, the difference between those who stay on the committed path to making their businesses work and those who stop is a growth mindset. Founders who can turn their failures into successes by learning from their mistakes are the ones who maintain a belief system that they can overcome their failures through learning and applying their new knowledge toward success.
Entrepreneurs who believe their abilities are limited to what they already know and to having good luck tend to limit their own success.
How to Focus on What Matters to Reach Success
I was speaking with a client who is relatively new in her business. She started her company about six months ago and knows she has a long way to go. I was proud to hear that she’d been telling others in her network about her business. This alone can be scary, talking about your new venture that is barely off the ground.
She asked me my opinion on a company name she’d thought of. She’s in a service business and hasn’t yet figured out her niche target market but has gotten a few small gigs to get started.
My advice to her was to use the KISS method: Keep It Simple Stupid.
The name of her business is not going to get her more clients. I suggested that for now she use her own name until she figures out her target market over the next couple of years, and put all of her energy and focus into two things: (1) gaining more knowledge about her industry and (2) getting more clients. She responded in a whisper something along the lines of, “I hope I make it.”
It’s a lot easier to spend time thinking about a name than the process you slog through to get a new client. One pays the bills; the other serves the ego. By applying a grow mindset to the situation, she can channel her enthusiasm for a new name into the activities that’ll make her business a success. She risks failing, but she also risks succeeding and gets excited about the new knowledge she’s learning.
Committing to the Process Will Allow You to Know What You’re Doing
The first couple of years of figuring out your business can be stressful because you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing most of the time. It’s a lot of trial and error, putting something out there, getting feedback, cutting your teeth on learning new skills so you can eventually gain mastery and use them for your success. Over time you gain more and more confidence and start to build systems, narrow your niche, carve out your lane.
This work is a process.
Goals are nice because they help you know where you’re going, but once you have a direction, the process you utilize to get you where you’re going should be your entire focus. Dashboards are there to make sure you don’t go off the rails, but if you’re headed in the right direction, follow the process.
Take the time — don’t take shortcuts that leave you without the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.
Honing the process will separate you from the rest of the pack. You’ll experiment, get creative, make mistakes, and make the process better. That is the work, to make the process better every single day.
If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It
What small business owners do every day is some of the hardest work and biggest risks that anyone will ever take: finding yourself on your computer until 3 am, turning down invitations from friends, risking the piggy bank, and committing yourself fully to the big, hairy, audacious vision you dare to dream when you do take a moment to meditate, palms up, open to what’s there to motivate you.
And still, we ask, “Why does it have to be so damn hard?” That’s the life of an entrepreneur. If it were easy to do what you do and make money doing it, everyone would be doing it.
By making an effort to maintain your growth mindset, you’ll take every lesson along the way and turn them into the secret sauce that makes your company different from the competition. And, that makes your business model a win-win for you, your clients, your employees, and your community.
It’s Not a Race, It’s a Journey
Clients often get hung up on an urgency that reminds me of the line from Hamilton, “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” And while Alexander Hamilton lived in an age of duals and was running out of time whether he knew it or not, that is not the case for us modern-day business mortals. Your success is going to unfold and take place over a period of time that you don’t control. Your desire to rush it is not going to make it go faster.
What will impact the timing is your commitment to the process and paying attention to what you learn. I remind my clients frequently of the fact that 10,000 hours of practice leads to mastery. If you work at the same thing for 80 hours a week, you’ll master it in five years. You’ll be exhausted, but you’ll be speeding up the process if you work that hard on one thing.
Take stock of all the things in your life that are important and while you’re focused and committed to the process, enjoy it along the way.
That is where true joy is found. And in eight to 20 years, when you achieve your “overnight” success, you’ll know the amount of entrepreneurial failure you had to overcome to make this all possible was worth every lesson learned.
You’ll take your growth mindset with you to everything you do. You’ll appreciate the inspiration that invigorated you to the point where you were willing to show up daily and invest your time, talent, and money to build it, when you were starting from scratch.