Starting a business and growing it successfully is a mental battle between your creativity and your self-doubt. It is absolutely essential to stay in the right state of mind if you ever intend to succeed, and it cannot be done without the self discipline of a few key habits.
Owning your own business is no doubt appealing, but is rarely, if ever, a smooth ride.
You’ll have a huge number of responsibilities. Becoming frustrated and overwhelmed is all too common and that will tempt you to give up… over and over again. But you wont, of course.
To stay on track to making your dreams a reality, the success of your business will demand unstoppable determination, flexibility in your time, energy and beliefs – and of course, a clear and unwavering vision of your ultimate dream as if it was reality.
I know, even just reading that feels overwhelming.
Practically everything you currently do automatically was once overwhelming and complex as far as your brain is concerned.
Don’t shy away from the initial period of overwhelm, it’s actually what motivates your brain to make the new and complex actions into routine behaviours. So lets get into them.
1. Set Strategic Goals
In order to set goals that will actually move you towards success requires some of strategy. The first principle of any goal you intent to achieve is clarity. What are you trying to achieve exactly?
If your goal is to “start a business and make a lot of money”, it won’t get you far. Simply because your subconscious mind will spend most of its processing power trying to figure out the ambiguity and inevitably leave you with more doubts and confusion. Get specific and define in detail the type of business you want, the industry you want to work in, how much money you want to make, who you want to work with, and so on.
The second principle is to set a firm deadline. Your brain will assume you have all the time in the world without a deadline, and you’ll procrastinate. Deadlines activate in your brain a sense of urgency that will allow it to process information faster and more accurately to achieve the results by the due date. Why do you think school assignments have firm deadlines?
The third and final principle is goal breakdown. This simply involves breaking down your major goal into smaller and more detailed sub-goals each with their own specific details and deadlines.
Always make sure each sub-goal serves your major goal appropriately.
2. Take Proactive Action
We all know what to do, but very few of us actually follow through. We often let ourselves become too easily distracted and put things off for a “later” that never comes.
The key is to act immediately at the point of a decision or setting a goal. Like Tony Robbins says, “Never leave the scene of a decision without taking some action.”
By doing this, your mind doesn’t get a chance to focus on the endless distractions that are competing for your attention. This in turn builds momentum that makes acting towards your goals easier.
Think of every single decision towards your goals as an opportunity with a very short lifespan. If you don’t act quickly, you miss out. You’ll never know what opportunity you have unless you take immediate action now.
3. Be a Realistic Optimist
Being overly pessimistic will ensure no losses, but it’ll ensure no gains either. Being overly optimistic on the other hand is the easiest way to bet big and lose it all at some point. The ideal option is to be a realistic optimist. This involves taking the effective aspects of both pessimism and optimism and discarding the ineffective.
Get clear on what you want to achieve, and never lose sight of it. Alongside this, learn about the common pitfalls and take necessary precaution to avoid them. Never assume that you’re an exemption to failure just because you feel like it, it will leave you blind to the many threats that can bring your business down.
Study the elements that contribute to success and failure equally, and understand how it applies to your business.
4. Be Unique
This is the key differentiating factor in business competition. Why should I buy from you and not your competitors?
If your service/product can provide something that your competition cannot, its unique and thus valuable. Having unique value has a lot of power because you stand out from others, and your customers will have no choice but to purchase from you to receive that value. But of course, that isn’t necessarily easy.
To generate unique value in your business, you must understand your competition very well, as well as your own strengths. Get into the habit of researching what others in your industry are doing, and how you can do it better. This is where you’ll have to get creative and find ways to leverage your skills and resources in ways that offers more value to your customers than your competitors.
Make it a fun challenge and continually seek to improve all aspects of your business – there’s always room for improvement. Faster, better, stronger.
5. Make Failure Your Best Mentor
You’re going to fail… again and again. It’s a given.
No truly successful business (or person) has ever been immune to failure. This is because within every failure lies the most important lessons to success that cannot be learnt any other way.
The unfortunate danger to failure is that people become too easily discouraged and give up when they experience it, simply because of what it means to them – it’s over. To a successful person, it means learning, growing, and becoming stronger. What does it mean to you?
You can change what failure means to you by asking yourself better questions. Whenever you experience failure, simply ask yourself whatever you want to take out of it.
What can I learn from this? How can my business grow from it? What is a better strategy for next time? What are solutions to this failure that can add value in the future? etc.
As with any mentor, you would ask them what you want to learn. Make failure your best mentor, by asking exactly what you want to learn from it. You’d be surprised to find a lot of wisdom in your greatest failures.
6. Embrace Life-long Growth.
All of life is subject to the law of change, and its generally in the cycles of either growth or decay. There is no middle ground.
If you’re not growing, you’re decaying (and vice versa). If you’re not doing either, you’re dead.
Your business is like any other entity of life. It requires constant nurturing for growth to facilitate life. It will require consistent application of the successful principles that keep it alive and growing. It is no different to consistently going to the gym to keep your health and fitness.
Treat the life of your business as if it were your own, and grow with it.
7. Take Your Time
Patience and perseverance is the common denominator to all successful businesses that are still standing today.
Whilst its admirable to push your limits and work insanely hard to get to your goals faster, you’ll often burn out and be out of the game for recovery. Ironically this stalls your goals even longer as you have to rebuild your courage to get back on your feet, and also to rebuild momentum.
It’s important to respect the seasons of your business journey. There are times when you should immerse yourself and expand your business, and then there are times when you should slow down and refine what you’ve built to keep it sustainable.
By tracking your progress closely, you can fine tune your pace to establish a nice balance between periods of immersion and maintenance, which will keep your business standing long term.