Entrepreneurs are always setting goals themselves – whether it’s $10k a month, a million in the bank, acquisitions or even a Kickstarter campaign…we all have goals and dreams for our business.
And I’m no different. I’ve written the goals, read and re-read them and yet still don’t consider my businesses a true success. I’m also willing to bet many of you are in the same boat – you bust your butt, put in the effort but ultimately have failed to produce the results.
Unfortunately I don’t have the answers. There’s no magic pill at the end of this post, info product sales pitch to transform your life or anything of the sort…instead I’d like to share some things I’ve been discovering about myself recently that’s really changing my perspective on business, life and success.
1. You are not your business.
This is one of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurs face when building a business. You dedicate untold hours to every little aspect of your business…it’s your baby, a part of your identity.
Unfortunately this is not only unhealthy but unproductive. The majority of businesses fail, that’s just a fact.
But you are not your business and failure to recognize that holds you back from making smart, important decisions because of the part of your identity’s built upon the business itself.
Does quitting a failing business mean you’re a failure or simply a smart entrepreneur? Seth Godin this, The Dip he likes to call. Reach a point of failure and iterate and improve or shift gears immediately.
“…know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.”
2. Excessive focus is idiotic.
I have what I’d call as an addictive personality. When I focus, I give 100% – constantly thinking about ways to improve, things to do, what next…
It’s a never ending stream of consciousness towards a singular goal – become successful, build a business. And too much of my views about myself are tied up in this obsession to allow happiness and other things into my life…
And many of you may have hit these patches in your life. Nothing matters but a single-minded focus of success.
But this is clearly characteristic of entrepreneurs everywhere.
“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else” – Dave Ramsey
We do think a ton about business but it must be turned off from time to time to truly find success. Creativity is comes not when thinking but living and the more you focus on success, sales, profit, the more elusive it all becomes.
When you get to the point of having dreams every night about your business(like I was), you know you need a change – more stress, less happiness, less results.
3. Efficiency is everything. 80/20
Let’s come back to the success formula, the Tim Ferriss tricks to hacking business and life.
Building a business has never been easier than it is today…but entrepreneur’s have never bared as much responsibility either.
“With great power comes great responsibility”
Where once corporations and big business was the only realm of creation, now Kickstarter, crowdfunding and ecommerce are launching an era of an increasingly open and free economy where an individual can successfully run not one but many businesses.
To do this effectively though you need to find a sense of balance and ultimately happiness in life. To do that it is critical to focus almost exclusively on high impact activities. Where are you uniquely needed in your business and what activities or roles are better outsourced or not done at all?
If you can’t take a vacation from your business isn’t it just a job?
4. It doesn’t necessarily pay to work hard.
From a young age we’re raised in a society that praises the importance of hard work. This is a foolish notion, a remnant of the industrial era and for many business owners leads to only unhappiness and strife.
Why must work be hard to be fruitful? Is life and business just busy work or is there a better way?
The core of this hard work philosophy is attacked the concepts of 80/20 success and comes even more under fire when thinking about myself and my personal goals.
Do you ever find yourself stressing things that need not be done or finding tasks to fill your day?
This is an employee mindset, a dinosaur of the doing work mindset and something incredibly important to remove from your psyche – so why is it so damn hard?
Since deciding entrepreneurship was ultimately the path for me I’ve found personal happiness increasingly elusive. There’s always one more change, one more blog post, a single share on Facebook that could make the difference, bring me further forward – more success.
But as a business owner this never ends…there is ALWAYS something. But is sacrificing your health, happiness and in many ways abilities to creatively problem solve really worth it?
Look at what you’re doing now in your own business. What’s working, what isn’t? These are questions I am tangling with myself and working to find better focus and freedom by simply removing the blinders.
5. Building a winning network – Your 5 closest friends.
Being in China for Shido Stand’s manufacturing has been great, it’s been terrible too though.
One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is loneliness – being on a journey of creation where you alone steer the ship of success. And in the immense ocean that is business it’s easy to lose one’s way and get lost.
Herein lies one of the biggest motivating factors for my return to Vietnam – the fellow entrepreneurs. Success is a mindset, a way of life and it is contagious. The people we hang out with consciously and unconsciously mold our beliefs and build the person we ultimately become.
To be successful, whether in business, life or even marriage, it’s important to associate with others who have what you seek. Whether it’s spending time with couples that have incredible marriages or entrepreneurs with awesome businesses, it rubs off on you.
Not only will these experiences normalize success and make it that much more attainable in your mind’s eye, but it will also open the door to a world you’ve never imagined where others well positioned to help you can actively promote your success.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
I’m just now starting to come to grips with the importance of happiness in being successful. And there is nothing more destructive or more common that comparing ourselves with others.
Why should your happiness and self image stem from any representation of another. Why can’t you be content?
Have you suffered from this…I bet you have. I sure as hell have found this to be a major stumbling block in business and life.
But why’s it so counterproductive to compare yourself? Ultimately it puts you and even your business in the hands of others, it’s outside your control. There will always be richer, sexier, taller…insert any adjective, people that you. Is a neverending, unwinnable comparison ladder something that sounds appeal or self destructive?
Furthermore it’s tied to a scarcity mindset. More on that in the next section.
7. Abundance is everything.
The importance of abundance is something so many of us have heard a great deal about. It seems to be the core that ties the successful and happy individuals together, the one common thread.
There are two ways to look at the world, positively and negatively – half empty or half full.
A scarcity mindset stems from the belief that value and success is limited, there is only so much of it in the world and to be as successful as possible you must overcome others and wish their downfall.And while this is an over-simplification of the concept it is lies at the heart of lacking – someone’s success, happiness etc, these detract from your own.
Abundance on the other hand is the exact opposite, a place from which value is derived and purpose found. In my opinion this is one of the most important aspects of business and it’s something I’m struggling with now and hope to fully embrace as I grow and evolve as an entrepreneur.
“A rising tide lifts all boats.” – John F. Kennedy
8. Meditate. Meditate. Mediate.
Why does it seem as though the world’s most successful businessmen, athletes and individuals all seem to espouse one form of mediation or another?
Correlation of course does not prove causation but I’d go so far as to say that meditation is one of the most powerful things you can do for personal success, health and happiness.
…and this is coming from a recent convert so take it with a grain of salt. But meditation, gratitude and acceptance of the world have been played significantly larger roles in my life as of late and happiness, productivity and creativity have all undoubtedly prospered.
At the core of meditation is the principle that we are not our thoughts, not the voices inside our head. This is an overwhelmingly liberating belief, something I’m still trying to fully comprehend.
And there are two primary applications of this. The first and more well known benefit of meditation is in our ability to accept. We can detach ourselves from results and success and go with the flow so to speak.
And it’s this attribute which comes in handy when things don’t go as planned.
A personal example – Today I spent hours traveling to my Shido Stand manufacturer to get the final sample and for our cushioning experts to prep for Kickstarter.
My flight leaves tomorrow – zero room for error. After a long and expensive journey to finally finalize the standing desk, I’m informed at the factory that the sample is four days behind schedule – my manufacturer never mentioned it.
Did I have cause to be angry, absolutely. And without a doubt this is exactly the kind of thing I’d have exploded over in the past…but really what’s the point? An outburst couldn’t change the fact, an argument just an idiotic way to ruin a relationship and solve nothing.
But avoiding emotional outbursts and undue stress is by no means the only benefit of mediation. At least equally important if not more so is your ability to understand yourself and eliminate limiting beliefs.
You are not the voice in your head, you can choose to listen and acknowledge or ignore and live your life. And the voice is simply an evolutionary instinct to life. It keeps us from changing, taking risks and experiencing life as we’d like it to be.
And once you start ignoring the voice in your head you begin to understand its true nature, the reason why certain things “just happen” in your life.
9. Success is not a destination.
The future is never real and the past does not exist. We live today only, despite our best laid plans, dreams and expectations.
But most people live a delayed life – they put off doing the things they want in hopes of some better future which will never come – this is my crux and the root of all unhappiness.
The sad thing is this focus on future not only plagues employees but is also afflicts the modern entrepreneur.
One more sale, ten more clients, $10k more a month – then I will be happy, then I will do that thing I have always dreamed of, then I’ll start to enjoy life.
“For every level there is another devil.”
I’m a workaholic, are you?
You don’t arrive at success, you don’t arrive at happiness. These obscure concepts are the cumulation of a life, a journey…not single space in time. So take some time to ponder your life, really look at what you want, the path your life is taking and align yourself both personally and professionally with the life you want to live,
I hear we only get one ride on this whirlwind called life, guess you might as well make the most of it.