I’ve been thinking a lot about success as an entrepreneur lately. I went to CEO Space a few weeks ago, and some of that experience really opened my eyes and/or gave me the kick in the pants I needed to really get motivated again. So, as I’ve been thinking about successful entrepreneurship and how to make some course corrections in my current business, it seems like everything I read is reinforcement to me that I need to do this.
I am LDS (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), and if you’re not, then pardon the spiritual references, but that is important to me as a person (and this post might be a little soul-bearing). I was meeting with my bishop a month ago about “tithing settlement.” At the end of each year, Latter-Day Saints meet with their bishop (the LDS Church has no paid clergy by the way), and settle on tithing. So we talked about that, and then we talked a little about life. I told him how frustrated I was with my business: not making enough to pay all my personal bills (make enough to keep the business going, but not enough for me!), etc. I said I was going to go look for a part-time job somewhere to work at night, maybe in a warehouse. And I never would have expected his response: “Are you crazy?” He then asked how much I make per hour doing what I do (when I have projects)… after expenses, $40-50/hour. He told me to forget the job and just double-down on sales. Make more phone calls, meet more people, network a little more (which I’ve done fairly consistently, but obviously not enough). It was strange coming from my bishop, because most people are not entrepreneurial and would have agreed with my idea to go get a job.
And yet, something about it made sense. At CEO Space, one of the instructors was Les Brown, and he said “You can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.” So my rule #4 in entrepreneurship is to not go it alone: partnership. Not to say that you need equity partners, but to say: have someone from the outside who can look at what you’re doing and slap you upside the head when you need it. When I got back from CEO Space, I found a business consultant/coach who I had met before (also happens to be a CEO Space member), and we’ve started working together. I’m very excited about what we’re doing so far!
Rule #4: Partnership
Tonight, I had a conversation with a friend who I’m working with to help him get everything in order for him to move to Utah. He didn’t know much about my financial situation until tonight, and as we talked, he stopped and said: “Dustin, you don’t have a lot of money. You’re working very hard to get your startup company off the ground, and yet you’re still helping me, and asking nothing in return.” I hadn’t thought about that, but he was right. He went on to say how much that touched him, and how he appreciated my willingness to help him even considering my own situation. I just think that’s what friends are for.
I’ve struggled with finding time for people in my life since I started this business, but I’m getting better. If I’m always pushing so hard for myself and not seeking to serve others selflessly, then I’m going to fail. I need something outside of me to keep me grounded, to keep me human. Call it karma, call it the universe, call it the Golden Rule… what you do for others comes back to you, but not if that’s the reason you do it. I believe if everyone served a little more, the world would be a significantly better place.
Rule #3: Serve Others
Another point this friend brought up: “no matter the circumstances, you’ve never given up on your goal. You just keep going! Why? If money was your goal, there are easier ways to get that.” He has a great point here: many people don’t realize how much work it is to launch a company from scratch, especially in the industry I’m in! It’s not something that you just throw together– it takes years of dedicated research, testing, lots of doing, and lots of relationship building (I’ve met literally thousands of business owners in the last two years… lots of networking). If money is your goal, go get a Ph.D in something or get an MBA and work your way up the ranks at a Fortune 50 company.
Like I said, you may need to course-correct as you go along (in fact, I know you will! — it’s happened to me with every venture I’ve been involved with, including my lemonade stand!), but the fact of the matter is that you need to keep going, even when the going get’s tough. Les Brown also said: “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy.” Of course ease is relative, but if you’re doing what you LOVE, then your life will be easy. Never give up on that dream.
Rule #2: Just Keep Going
That brings me to the risk factor. Most people can’t stomach being an entrepreneur. That’s why you’ll see people take little baby steps, or dip their toes in the pool: because they want it, but not bad enough. They sign up with an MLM and work 5-10 hours/week on their ‘business’ (and keep the 9-5 gig). Is there anything inherently wrong with that? No. But I don’t consider that an entrepreneur.
By my definition: an entrepreneur is someone who
- Has a vision to create something great.
- Puts themselves out there and really goes for (takes risks, albeit calculated)
- Does not give up until they’ve proven it’s a bad business model or proven that it’s a winner.
Entrepreneurs are died-in-the-wool never-give-up-never-surrender types. They will be in it for the long haul– even if they did have to get a night or day job to put groceries on the table– they never let that dream die. True entrepreneurs don’t do it for the money (and those who just do it for the money, generally don’t succeed). Look at all the top guys on the Forbes 400, and ask those who are self-made billionaires if their primary motivation was money. They will tell you know. One might say he wanted to help his mother retire live a good life; one might say he just wanted to make a difference in the world; one might say they just had an itch to fix a problem. THAT is truly what should drive someone to be an entrepreneur.
If you’re an entrepreneur at heart but let a dream die, or haven’t yet let that dream begin to live, begin it now. My absolute favorite quote of all time is from W.H. Murray (taking from Goethe):
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
With that boldness, make a commitment. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Today is the beginning of the next phase of your business. Without committing yourself to something, you won’t do it. Write down your idea, your plan, your business model, and then start doing it. Set small goals for yourself to make sure you do something every single day to make your dream a reality. I call it the hand of God. Call it the law of attraction if you want, but I know when you commit to something and take action on it, things start to roll. Here’s another bit from W.H. Murray:
“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”
Rule #1: Commit Yourself, and Begin
I just thought this video was relevant, so I embedded it here. I made this video a year ago when I was feeling down, and it cheered me up. A woman I met at a networking meeting came to me later and said (after watching it on my website) that it made her cry and asked for a copy. I really like what Henry Ford said (in the video): Failure is only the opportunity to intelligently begin again. As I was talking on Skype with this friend earlier (we were speaking German, not English, so my translation is not exact), he said there is no such thing as being unsuccessful. There is only quitting. In other words, you will be successful if you keep at it. The only failure there is, is giving up.
You may be asking: so what are your results from doing this? Well, I can’t say that I’m rich or anything, but things are looking really good now! I’ve got over 150 very warm leads, I have two other people on my sales team now helping me reach people, and our internet marketing is starting to develop leads as well (about 10% of our site traffic is from Google search). Things are moving, and I don’t foresee getting a “job” any time soon. Entrepreneurship is where it’s at. I’m just greatful for the wonderful, supportive people in my life who haven’t let me lie myself into a job. In reality, it’s about being in integrity and honest and about who you really are. If you’re a true entrepreneur, then embrace yourself and go for it. You have so much going for you not to (remember, once you commit, all kinds of unseen things happen– I can testify to that!).
On a side note: if you’re familiar with social media and sales AND will work commission only, I could use some help.