So you want to be an entrepreneur and start your own enterprise. Or maybe you’re already running an enterprise and want to diversify or start a new venture or maybe simply expand your operations. In all these cases, there’s one obstacle that stands in your way – Fear.
You see, fear is a very powerful emotion. It is capable of making or breaking a man. Back in the day, when humans were hunter-gatherers, it was important to have the emotion of fear – the fear of danger is what kept them alive. Yes, fear keeps you alive in a flight or fight situation, but in starting a Business and running it -which by the way is a mostly cognitive task- it will be a hindrance. Mostly!
Confused? Let me put it up in simpler words. In business, what we have to deal with is the fear of failure. It is okay to be afraid for a bit. It makes you think twice, it makes you double-check everything, and it helps you see what’s at stake. However, for most of us, fear doesn’t stop there. It takes the liberty of producing demotivating thoughts, and soon enough, you’ll start to doubt your ideas and your abilities.
Now, if you want to succeed in business, let not fear get the best of you. If you are determined to beat your fears to submission and overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of your quest for success, read on, brave soul, you will find it worth the time.
Conquering fear has two dimensions; put in the simplest terms, they are –
- What you can do INSIDE your head, and
- What you can do OUTSIDE you head.
To a person observing you, it would appear that the things you do outside your head is what aids your success. However, if you want those to be in order, you have to sort out those things that you do inside your head.
What are these anyway? The stuff on the inside are emotions, motivation, overall state of mind and attitude. The stuff on the outside, that’s all the external preparation that you’ll have to do.
What you can do INSIDE
Stay positive. The mind believes what you tell it. Absolutely! If you keep beating yourself up saying “It’s impossible” or “I can’t do it” or “there’s too much risk involved”, then you are paving your path to failure. Stay positive and have faith in your abilities. The person who says he can and the person who says he can’t are both often right. If you lose a game mentally, then you’ve already lost the game. This analogy applies in all aspects of life. The world has a fair share of haters and critics. When you come up with a new idea, or a new business venture, people will have something to say about it. If most of what you hear is positive, consider yourself lucky, for, most people hear criticism, not appreciation. The average person loves to criticize and find faults in other’s ideas. In situations like these, remember what Will Smith’s character in the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ tells his son –
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you, you can’t do it. if you want something, go get it. Period.”
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you should be completely closed to suggestions and advice. Just make sure you always take advice from the experts. If you’re starting a new business venture, talk to someone who has built a similar enterprise from the ground up. Talk to people who are your target audience. These are the people who are qualified and/or capable to advise you. Ignore all criticisms that aren’t worthwhile or useful.
Accept the fact that no matter what you do, there is always a possibility that you might end up failing. Nobody ever nailed anything in their first attempt. It’s like pancakes- the first one is always a throw-away. But don’t let that disappoint you. There’s a good chance that if you aim high enough, even if you fail to reach you goals, you’ll still have reached somewhere – having half a loaf of bread is better than having none at all. And yeah, keep trying. Failure is painful, I get it. Understand pain is temporary. It might last a couple of days, weeks, maybe months. But if you quit, it’s going to be there for the rest of your life. If you fail, just scrape your bum off the floor and get back to work as a wiser man.
Motivation plays a crucial role in the journey to success. A person with no motivation is as useless as a refrigerator in Antarctica. Most of you say you seek success. The real question is, how bad do you want it? Do you want it as much as you want to party? Do you want it as much as you want sleep? Do you want it as much as a drowning man wants air? To attain knowledge and success, first you must crave for it.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve managed to start your own enterprise. It is now that the real challenge arises- the challenge staying motivated in the long run. Remind yourself why you decided to be an entrepreneur in the first place. Set daily goals and work towards achieving them. These short term goals help you see progress easily, and there’s nothing more motivating than seeing the result of your hard work.
To ensure you’re performing at your best, you have to take care of your overall state of mind. A healthy mind is of utmost importance in achieving success. Once in a while, take a short break. Read a book. Hit the gym. Maybe play a musical instrument. These work wonders for your brain. The time off allows to your brain to clear up its workbench and to refresh and rejuvenate itself. Trust me, your brain will be up and running in no time, functioning with an efficiency that was previously unheard of.
Your attitude matters a lot. An aura of positivity can works wonders with you co-workers and prospective clients. Keep an open mind and be receptive to novelty – hear out new ideas and proposals and recommendations no matter how outrageous they might appear to be. Keep the ego under wraps. There will be times when you need to collaborate with other people. There will be times when you absolutely need someone’s help. The first step here is accepting the fact that you need help from other people. You need to be humble and convincing if you want people to be willing to help you.
What you can do on the OUTSIDE
Okay, so you’re mentally at your best. Now you need to think about how to prepare externally to maximize your chances of success. This segment deals with those kind of preparations.
Plan ahead of time
Imagine you’re on vacation. Say you’re going on a road trip. You plan ahead as to where and when you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and so on. You map out everything before you step out.
In short, you must not start without a plan. Make a plan and write it down. You’re more likely to succeed with a written down plan. Know where you’re headed before you start the engine. This plan should be flexible, but not to the extent that the core is disrupted.
Nothing better than team work
Unless you’re a prodigy with 200+ I.Q AND superhuman abilities, you won’t be able to do all the work by yourself. Everyone has their own talents, strengths, and weaknesses. This is why team work is of the essence. Say, you’re excellent at coming up with new ideas, but not so good at marketing them. If you have a marketing expert by your side, he fills the void created by your inability to market your idea. It’s near impossible to run a one man show
Even the world’s richest man and the world’s most powerful man have a group of advisors. They fully understand and accept that they can’t do everything by themselves. Hence they bring together a talented bunch of people to aid their rise to success.
As I said earlier, you might have to collaborate with other people and there will be times you are absolutely in need of help. There is no harm in taking help from someone. In fact, trying to run a one man act and being unwilling to seek help is a surefire sign of arrogance.
Don’t rely entirely on luck to get you through
Someone succeeds in doing a task while you failed miserably trying to do the same, and you mutter to yourself: “lucky bastard”.
Well, luck had nothing to do with it. Not as much as you thought, anyway. Think of luck as a bonus point – they always go to the ones who put in their share of hard work. When your schoolteachers told you that fortune favours the brave, they weren’t lying. Maybe he was lucky enough to come across an influential person or a potential investor, that’s only because he put in the effort to meet new people. Keep trying to promote your business even when nobody appears to notice. You never know when your big break comes or where it comes from.
Find the right people
For any business to succeed, it is important to have the right bunch of people. A wrong hire can flush a large sum of money and a large amount of time right down the drain. The best hire, on the other hand will bring you tenfold results in half the time. Never settle for a ‘good enough’ hire. The fine line between a good hire and the perfect hire will mark the difference between the best and second best enterprises.
When hiring an employee, ensure they fit into your work culture. A sparkling resume doesn’t always mean a person is a good hire. A good hire is a person who fits in to your work culture, one who is motivated and committed to working with you. They should be compatible with your existing employees. See what they can bring to your company, and see what the person expects to achieve working for you.
Data is God
It has been revealed in studies that data-driven companies outperform their non -data driven counterparts in terms of financial performance, shareholder wealth and branding. Thanks to the growth of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, cloud, business analytics and consumer not the product becoming the focal point, Big Data is there to help entrepreneurs big and small to succeed in the competitive and recessionary milieu. The success of Google, Facebook, Walmart and several new generation companies point to the importance of Big Data. Data mining, predictive analysis and business analytics tools are available for the discerning entrepreneur to turn them into useful structured data for getting ahead in business.
Fear is quite irrational whether it is in personal life or business. However, to succeed in business you need to make the right moves, remain highly motivated, look for mentors in the field, and take pains to understand the market and consumer mindset. Most often fear comes from insufficient groundwork or spade work on what is really happening in the market. In many technology parks, universities and colleges, incubators have been set up to foster entrepreneurship at the academic stage itself. These institutions guide, hand-hold and even provide seed funding for good ideas before the budding entrepreneurs can take off on their own. This way they don’t feel like babies suddenly thrown into the waters and having a fear of being drowned. You need not be born in a business family to succeed in business. If you have the strategies, support and leadership qualities and a spirit of innovation, there is nothing coming in the way of success.
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