Many young, and young-at-heart, entrepreneurs struggle through similar problems during their quest for success in the business world.
Business is hard. It’s unforgiving. It’s a game that never ends – and when you do take a break, your competition definitely doesn’t. The problems you’ll face at the beginning can bring you down; the problems you’ll face as you mature can do the same. There is no escape. Did I mention, business is HARD?
That’s just the tip of the reality. But take heart. Everyone who has ‘succeeded’ in the business world has overcome similar challenges. Challenges that spread a lifetime, which present innumerable learning opportunities and moments to grow. The following are some tips to get you through some of the struggles you will face.
THERE’S NO EASY ROAD. People like to believe that you will strike it rich – fast. ‘If it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s taking too long’ – that sort of attitude. I like to call that the Gangster Mentality. It’s a dangerous mindset to have, because it reeks of a do-anything-to-get-to-the-top way of thinking. People, there is NO quick road to success. My journey has taken 8 years to get to where I am today, and I’m nowhere near where I feel like I need to be. That’s reality. So ditch the get rich quick attitude and prepare yourself for a journey that can take decades to fulfill. As one of my mentors, Dr Manu Chandaria says “I work 16 hours a day every day. That is no quick road to success, ever”.
YOU DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING. As hard a pill as it can be to swallow, you need to realize you are not the ultimate authority on all things. Yes, it may be your business, but I guarantee you there are people who know more about your field than you do. If ever you think you know everything there is to know – you’re already regressing. In my business I surround myself with people who know a lot more than me – constantly. Have a desire to LEARN. To be humble enough to know your way is not the only way something can be done. At the end of the day, you want to grow and succeed. Do not forget that while starting out. Instead of being arrogant, have the humility to learn – and an arrogance to take that learning and utilise it for the success of your business.
IF YOU THINK YOU’RE ONTO SOMETHING – get the smartest people you know to tear it apart. There are no emotions in business. Being able to take criticism and use it is key to your long term success. Many people have had experiences that you have not. These experiences have shaped them and how they see different situations. Use that knowledge for your growth. The belief that ‘everyone should experience pitfalls otherwise they will never learn’ is so misplaced in this context, because no matter how much advice you get – you will still run into plenty of problems for you to experience. Lighten your load ever so slightly; surround yourself with smarter people.
KNOW, KNOW, AND KNOW. I’ve seen hundreds of business pitches that have followed a similar pattern. The entrepreneur starts out confidently. Assured. Ready to conquer the task in front. Then the questions start coming in. The entrepreneur starts shrinking as answers come out garbled or just plain wrong. More questions come in about projected revenues and earnings. The entrepreneur drops the b-word; billions. Now we KNOW you’re out of your depth. By the end of it, the entrepreneur looks like a baby, hanging on for dear life off the side of a bunk bed – mentioning comparisons to Facebook and Twitter. Do not be that person. Knowledge is your only value when you have little – enhance it at every turn you get.
Prepare yourself for a life of the above. That’s the truth behind owning your own business. It won’t become an empire in 5 years, or 15. Much of the time it won’t ever become an empire at all. And that should be perfectly alright. Not every business is destined to be a conglomerate. The greatest businesses are those that operate strongly, have solid revenues, can provide for a great life for employees and employers alike – and grow within their means.
Have a crazy vision of where you want to be. The crazier the better. But work towards it with everything you have. You’ll learn plenty about yourself and where you need to be. Businesses are built over years of work. Don’t expect a quick road, you won’t find it.