“If it were EASY to start up a successful new business, then everybody’d be doin’ it, and then it would be worth the equivalent of flippin’ burgers at your local McDonalds — a minimum wage job.” — Jim Rohrbach
OK — all you beginning business owners out there — don’t you wish someone would tell you the TRUTH about what it takes to start up and run a successful business? I mean, the real dirt, not the hackneyed sayings from the motivational speaker cheerleaders: “Just do it!” “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” “The sky’s the limit!” What happens when you’re a couple of years into it and the sky is falling?
Not that I want to burst your bubble of enthusiasm, but creating and maintaining your own successful business is HARD, period. The US Small Business Administration estimates that up to 90% of all small businesses close within the first five years. But take heart — the fact that business success is difficult is actually good news, because it forces you to test your self to the limit: Do you have what it takes that separates the men from the boys/women from the girls? You’ll never know as long as you’re working for someone else.
So let me share some of the more challenging aspects that you’re bound to go through on your business journey:
• Frustration “Why is this taking so long?”
• Irritation “Why don’t those people return my phone calls?”
• Aggravation “How come the printer can’t get my brochures ready in time for my mailing date?”
• Confusion “What the heck is my niche anyhow?”
And it gets worse:
• Self-doubt “What if they were right — maybe I don’t have what it takes?”
• Helplessness “We’re bleeding in red ink!”
• Hopelessness “I can’t seem to close any deals!”
• Despair One of the turning points — I’m convinced there hasn’t been a business owner ever (who wasn’t a trust funder with deep pockets) who didn’t lie awake AT LEAST one entire night, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, asking the question, “WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING WHEN I STARTED THIS DARN BUSINESS???” I got to the point where I realized that my ignorance WAS bliss — if I had known how hard it was or how long it would take, I might have never started at all.
Going through any of these feelings? Great … welcome to “Business Base Camp!” Because now that you’re over the initial euphoria of getting started (usually a couple of years into it), the impartial reality of the marketplace has a way of bringing you back down to earth, or even buried six feet under if you’re not strong enough. So if you’re at this juncture, the trick is to take control in the following three areas: Your attitude, your activity and your skills.
1. Attitude In order to maintain your sanity despite some (or all!) of these difficult emotions, I recommend a Daily Success Ritual, seven days a week, to keep your attitude strong. This includes reciting your Mission Statement, affirmations and expressing Gratitude to your conception of God. I also recommend the daily habit of putting yourself in a relaxed, meditative state to picture the positive outcomes you want, despite any lack of them day to day.
2. Activity It’s important for you to schedule your time based upon your goals — so set an appointment with yourself every weekend to make sure your upcoming week is filled with productive activities to keep you on track. Then, follow this schedule! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck constantly doing reactive tasks (administrative work like emails, bookkeeping, paper shuffling, etc.) rather than the necessary proactive business-building tasks of prospecting, networking, requesting referrals, servicing clients and the like.
3. Skills Daily improvement is the key to any success, especially in business. Perhaps the most important weakness of beginning entrepreneurs is their lack of of marketing and professional selling skills. You can have all the technical expertise in the world, but if you can’t get in front of well-qualified prospects and then be able to influence them to do business with you, you’ll wind up as one of the 90% of business casualties.
Do I sound discouraging? Take heart — I PERSONALLY went through ALL OF THE ABOVE in my first five years of business. No — I didn’t love it at the time … I had a particularly stressful period of about 12 months in there. As a matter of fact, I tried to “quit” by briefly looking for a job. When I discovered that no one was gonna hire me, I gulped, then recommitted myself. The underlying blessing of this painful realization? It forced me to improve.
Luckily, I hung on long enough to crack the code of coaching success. I guess my point is, don’t be afraid to persist when you think that maybe you’re never gonna get there — that’s one of the tricks the great game of business plays on you before you succeed. And once you do, get used to the fact you can never stop pedaling — there’s only one way to coast, and that’s downhill. I never stop pedaling … I thrive on the challenge.
Has it been worth it? ABSOLUTELY — there’s no feeling in the world like making it on your own terms after being brought to your knees, humbled by the marketplace, only to rise up and triumph. I like to say that over the years since 1992, I’m now an “overnight success.” And you can be too — Good Luck!
Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals around the US by phone on growing their clientele. His main niche is Financial Advisors. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. Visit Jim on the web at www.successskills.com