Friday, February 05, 2010

7 (Not So) Harsh Realities of Entrepreneurship

1. Actions are antidotes. Mainly, to the fears you think are real. Which aren’t. Because they’re fears. And fears are only as real as your fear of them. Like the schoolyard bully whose sole source of power is your fear of him, most fears melt into a puddle of goo when you stand up to them.

That’s the action part. And it’s contrary to FDR's philosophy that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I disagree. I think the only thing we have to fear is the fear OF fear itself. Nothing a few courageous steps of action can’t fix. If this action drains your energy and ability to change, what would cause the opposite?

2. Bodies are barometers. They speak the language of Truth. They tell you what your mouth is afraid to say, what your ears don’t want to hear and what your brain is too chickenshit to admit. Your mission is to listen louder. Much louder. And to treat everything you hear as legitimate, quantitative data.

Look: This isn’t like flying coach when you stick your ear buds in and tune out the safety demonstration you’ve heard a thousand times. This is your health. And your business will thank you for prioritizing it over everything else. What is your body saying about your pace?

3. Boundaries are saviors. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, other people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell all their little friends that it’s OK to violate them. All because you failed to set a precedent of value by putting a stake in the ground.

Your challenge: This week, don’t let yourself back down from another boundary defining moment. Give yourself permission to say no to the good so you can make space for the best. What would it cost you NOT to stick up for your boundaries here?

4. Brands are accelerators. On the customer side, they accelerate the decision making process and the sales cycle. On your side, they accelerate profitability and company growth. But here’s what’s scary: For too long, too many businesspeople have barely skated by with ZERO branding.

And while it may have worked for a few decades, eventually, brandless businesses become broke businesses. You can’t afford not to have one anymore. Be branded or be stranded. How much longer can you go without having an identity?

5. Clients are teachers. Let them participate in your brand. They will teach you how to sell to them. They will teach you how to serve them better. They will teach you what products to release next. They will teach you where to take your business. They will teach you what you’re doing wrong.

All you have to do – and this are the two steps most companies miss – is ask them, then listen. Loudly. What kind of feedback loops are you generating so your customers and employees can have a genuine conversation?

6. Interruptions are derailments. An article in The New York Times recently reported that the average employee is interrupted every eleven minutes. If you do the math, that’s forty-three interruptions over the course of an eight hour day.

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

No wonder productivity is in the toilet. Thank God I’m self-employed. What I’d be interested to know is how many of those interruptions were self-inflicted, and how many were legitimate time stoppers. Because you always have a choice. Remember: The best way to block a punch is to not be there. Is what you’re doing RIGHT NOW consistent with your #1 goal?

7. Maybes are lies. If you don’t say, “I will,” you won’t. If you don’t say, “I choose to,” you aren’t. That’s how powerful language is. My suggestion is to write the word “maybe” on a pad of sticky notes. Then draw a big fat “X” through each one. Then post them all around your office.

Soon enough, that word will be permanently deleted from your vocabulary. And that’s when your pattern of execution will begin to manifest. Your welcome. What are the components of your success vocabulary?

What (not so) harsh reality are you avoiding?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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