A Mind for Business
I am a self-professed serial entrepreneur. I’ve built and run several businesses over the years, and I’ve learned the hard way how to avoid business failures. I know a lot of people who do this. The thing is this is not for everyone. In fact, for every person who has started a business and loved everything about it, there are ten who didn’t. They dipped their toes, felt the chill and got right back out of the water.
What’s the Catch?
Why do some people make it and others don’t? Being an entrepreneur is an amazing feeling, but for every good thing, there is also a negative. You need to understand the good and the bad to avoid business failures.
Working for yourself requires a lot of resilience. I’m not talking about hustling work and bringing in money. There are special criteria for anyone who decides to become an entrepreneur. They’re not guts and courage, although these are helpful too. What you need is far deeper than that.
This one thing will make or break you, that’s how strong it is. It’s part of you, and it reaches to the depths of who you are. Without it, you will never make it through your first experience with a hostile customer. Let alone your first cash flow crisis.
That one thing is the right mindset.
The Influence of Mindset
You’ve heard words like grit, resilience, determination. These are all necessary qualities of a good mindset, and they will help you avoid business failures. Still, it takes a lot of it to get through failure after failure without putting the “out of business” sign up on the door in sheer frustration. In fact, some days it will take everything in you not to call your old boss to beg for your job back.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you won’t experience failure. Failures are a part of doing business. I’m talking about the difference between a business that makes it past the critical point of should I close up shop or should I keep going. This point comes down to the mindset of the entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur means dealing with hard stuff. Namely, failure, defeat, working for free at the beginning and the king of them all, fear.
It also means that you don’t know what you don’t know, so you have to pay attention. Recognize when you need help and have the humility to ask for it.
This stuff is hard, but it all comes down to mindset. Mindset is the key to making it all work.
Why We Take the Plunge
So why would you put yourself through this? For me the reason was freedom. For you, it may be a passion or some other noble reason. Freedom just so happens to be my passion. Don’t get me wrong, I work longer hours than I ever have at an ordinary job, but I own my time and dictate how I use it. In fact, being an entrepreneur made me obsessive about how I use my time.
1. Do What You Love or Work for Someone Else
The essential principle of entrepreneurship should be:
Get paid for doing the things you love to do.
Unfortunately, the majority of people go into business with the intent to make a lot of money or for the status of being the boss.
Although money is a pleasant by-product of having a business you love, it’s not worth it. A company that doesn’t feel like work but rather like playing. Now that’s so worth it.
What Do You Love?
If you want to own your own business and avoid business failures in the process, pick something that you can do for hours and still want to do it tomorrow. Don’t choose something you just feel okay about doing. Just being okay is not good enough. This point is where most people rush in and burn out. Take your time with this. Do what you love.
The key to grit and resilience is a positive mindset. If you love something, it’s easy. The focus must be on what you want. Don’t concentrate on external factors like money, status or power. These perks will come when your clients can see the passion and the spark in your business.
2. Be Like Water
No, I”m not spouting Chinese proverbs here. But you should try different things. If you’re an entrepreneur at heart and you must move forward NOW, it’s okay. Go into it with an understanding that what you choose can change. A lot of people will beat their forehead on a brick wall to get it to fall when all they had to do was go around.
Business is fluid. You have to move with it. Your products can change, your business will change. You’re not making all or nothing decisions. It’s organic and changes with you.
3. Don’t Be That Guy
People (your clients and customers included ) are not only smart but very intuitive. They can spot a spammy, sleaze ball from a mile away. If you’re doing something, you hate for all the wrong reasons you run the risk of being that guy. The one who’s only in it for money, power or status.
4. Stop Looking Through Rose Colored Glasses
Entrepreneurship is not a fantasy world. It’s hard work, mentally and physically. Yes, you get to do what you love, but you also have to deal with the business side of running a business.
I don’t like the concept of business in itself, accounting, rules, regulation this is the part I deal with to do the stuff I love. Remember that you will have to do a lot of things you hate to realize your dream.
It’s too difficult to run a solo business and do what you love all the time.
A doctor can be a doctor only a part of the time. Even doctors have to document, research and do the paperwork to stay compliant. A scientist still has to deal with the task of funding his research. A writer has to market and brand herself. A contractor has to deal with less than desirable clients. Every business has to pay taxes.
Do you love your work enough to eat the shit sandwich?
5. Watch Your Language and Avoid Business Failures
This idea is in no way a contradiction to #4. You should eat your shit sandwich. Do it while you pay attention to your dialogue. Yes, I’m sure you speak well, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is, there are phrases people use when they’re on the fence about something.
How you use your words is another aspect of mindset. Sometimes it’s the small mind shifts that take us over the edge of “Should I do this?” or “How am I going to do this?” It’s like convincing yourself to go to the gym. You know you want the result, we all do. However, getting your butt out the door or on that treadmill is another thing altogether.
If you said, “I might go to the gym,” it would feel a lot different than, “I’m going to the gym today at 5 p.m.” wouldn’t it? If you want it enough, make the commitment. Don’t question it, do it.
6. Know When Enough is Enough
Your inner voice controls mindset. Is your voice a critic or a coach? Your inner critic makes some life-altering decisions at your weakest points. Avoid business failures by keeping the inner critic in check.
Don’t make hasty decisions.
Explore all opportunities. Exhaust all possibilities. Find all possible alternatives before you decide you’re not cut out for (insert dream here).
Don’t give up without a fight.
This idea reminds me of the story Michael E. Gerber writes about in the E-Myth about the fat guy vs. the skinny guy. The inner skinny guy gives up when he stops seeing progress. So in essence, he lets the fat guy win.
Via The E-Myth Revisited:
“And so when The Skinny Guy decides to change things we believe that it’s I who’s making that decision.
And when The Fat Guy wakes up and changes it all back again, we think it’s I who’s making that decision too.
But it isn’t I. It’s we.”
7. Learn To Recognize Your Resistance
Recognize where your resisting and work like a madman to overcome this. You’ll know when your resisting when you find yourself binging on Netflix movies when you should be working. If you want to avoid business failures, look for these and figure out how to put through this. The sooner the better. For example, there are a lot of writers who can’t seem to sit down and write. They talk about the torture of being a writer. Yet, they love it. This is called resistance and resistance comes from fear. But it also comes from not knowing what to do next.