Want to start your own business? You could read one (or many) of the hundreds of books out there on the subject, make all the right moves, and do it just the way the experts tell you to. Knock yourself out in the process! Will it get you all the way to the finish line? Possibly, but if you’re missing one particular key ingredient of success, more than likely you will wind up someplace short of your dream destination. I can assure you that all the information in the world—and all the blood, sweat and tears to go with it—won’t get you to your personal nirvana if your mindset is out of whack. What am I suggesting? A gut check! But wait a minute. I just said mindset, and now I’m telling you to do a gut check? Stay with me and answer these questions truthfully.
Gut Check Questions for the Aspiring Business Owner
1. Are you ready, willing and able to work ridiculously long hours?
2. Will you vow to make time a “non-issue”? That means no complaining that there’s “not enough time for me” (what you do for your business is for you). No using “I don’t have enough time” as an excuse. For anything!
3. Are you up for hard work, doing jobs you don’t want to do, and getting little, if any, pay for it? (At least at the onset.)
4. Are you good at selling, or at least willing to sell and get good at it?
- 5. Are you able to take on all of this and, at the same time, maintain a predominantly upbeat, determined attitude?
If you hear anything but a deafening “YES” rattling between your ears, or if your stomach tightens up because you really want it to be a “yes” but it just isn’t (that’s the gut check part), you have some work to do if you want to start, run and grow your own business.
Start, run and grow a business in the real world. While appealing, it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes work, and a willingness to make mistakes, feel stupid, look stupid, and then get right back up, make adjustments, and go after it again. It takes courage. It takes determination. And you’d better be able to sell. And perhaps the most challenging aspect is that you have to come to terms with the fact that you don’t know it all. You’d better be very willing to quickly ask for the help you will unavoidably need. Might as well tackle that one right off the bat. Before you hang out that shingle, do your research and be brutally honest with yourself about why you are making such a move. This moment of introspection will be a big help when choosing which model you are going to pursue. If you are never going to put in the time to attain the right attitude, and to learn how to sell, then I’d strongly suggest choosing a model in which you don’t need to do that. Get a partner. Hire a sales staff. Nothing sells itself.
No “I Did It And So What?” Outcomes
Connect your business to something bigger. Sometimes you are going to get tired. You are going to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Why did I do this?” When that happens, you’d better have a really good answer! Whenever you experience an ounce of doubt, you need to be able to go straight to what I call your personal “What For?” Why are you doing this? You need to tie your work and your business to something that means an awful lot to you to get through these defining moments. Once you do, it stops being about you, and you will fuel yourself with a desire that will enable you to overcome those tough times. Without a deeper reason than having a business or making a living, you’ll likely give up before you reach the finish line, or you’ll be successful and wonder why you went through it all … because you’ll feel surprisingly unsatisfied.
I have a relative who spent a lifetime in the medical field as a highly respected doctor. He told me on several occasions how it was never very satisfying for him. It was his parents’ dream that he become a doctor, but it was never his dream. Don’t live out someone else’s dream! Do something in the world that resonates with you and do what matters most to you. It sounds simple, because it is, but it’s still the most important piece of the puzzle. Get busy jigsawing!