I have always been fascinated by greatness; that special realm of human existence where achievement blends with fulfillment and creativity aligns with purpose. I strongly believe besides greatness, nothing else accounts for a life well spent. Greatness is the summit of life on earth!
The pursuit of greatness in the realm of business is what inspired me to create this blog; naijapreneur –to help as many unusual entrepreneurs as possible build businesses that MATTER, change the world, and profit from purpose. It is the basis of all that I write about and the glue that binds us as a community of unusual entrepreneurs.
The pursuit of greatness in the realm of business is not a quest for the meek; it is a mission for the strong. In the end, it is more about the kind of life you want to live and the kind of business that you want to build as an expression of the kind of life you’ve chosen to live.
But how is GREATNESS achieved; by CHANCE [Luck] or by CHOICE [Work]?
The critical question is NOT whether you will have luck [CHANCE], but what you DO with the luck that you get [CHOICE].
– Jim Colins, author of ‘Great by choice’
GREATNESS is NOT by CHANCE -luck!
GREATNESS is by CHOICE –work!
Embracing The Long Walk
Every entrepreneur would love to see their business grow and become a success story overnight. Don’t know about you, but I seriously nurture this thought sometimes even though I know it’s contrary to reality.
Great companies that are often the admiration of budding entrepreneurs in their early years also wished they could attain greatness overnight. But neither of them did!
Facebook didn’t become a success story overnight; it endured a long walk to the top.
Apple didn’t become a global brand overnight; it had its own share of uncertainty, doubt and fear common to every growing company.
And so did other great companies like Nike, Sony, Intel, Microsoft, Disney, Boeing, Ford, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc.
The journey to greatness in business as well as in life is a long, hard, and scary one. You will often encounter several challenging moments that you ultimately have to confront and overcome. There is no way around it; business is a marathon and not a sprint race!
Greatness Is A Choice
It is true that every business has a financial objective; profitability –an economic engine. But also true is the fact that every business has a personal objective; legacy –an emotional engine. The economic engine [profitability] keeps the business going; the emotional engine [legacy] keeps you the entrepreneur going.
Profitability is the money you make through your business. Legacy is the impact you make through your business. Profitability helps your business to thrive. Legacy helps your business to be great. Profitability helps you make a living, which is good. Legacy helps you make a life, which is great!
Many businesses exist with only one objective; profitability and by so doing, they limit their potentials for greatness. These are companies founded by average entrepreneurs who go into business to do the usual –make money.
But only a few businesses exists with both objectives; profitability + legacy and by so doing, they increase their potentials for greatness. These are companies founded by unusual entrepreneurs who go into business to do the unusual –make a difference.
The pursuit of greatness in the realm of business is the ability to create a balance between profitability and legacy.
How Do You Achieve This Critical Balance?
To answer this question, I will quote Corbett Barr, the unusual founder of ThinkTraffic.
GOING ALL IN!
When you’re all-in on what you do, people notice. When you care about what you’re making so much, you bring fresh insight and dedication, and that shines through for your customers to see. There’s something attractive about unrestrained dedication, and people notice, join in and help promote what you’re doing.
Going all-in isn’t about some short-term result, it’s about dedicating yourself to a cause or group of people for the long term or maybe the rest of your life. When you’re driven by a cause you believe in, a story that’s bigger than the failure/success of your product, when you tap into something that MATTERS, people respond.
If people aren’t responding to your work, examine your dedication first. You’re not just launching a product; you’re at the head of a movement. Serving a target audience with everything you have and helping them defeat their dragons ends up being the best sales tactic of all. There’s no substitute for being all in!
In every sphere of life; business, politics, sports, religion, family, academics, military, etc. The question of GREATNESS is never found wanting.
Be it a great life, a great company, a great school, a great hospital, a great sports team, a great church, a great country, a great military unit, a great charity organization, a great musician; each has its own definition of results, defined by its core purpose. Yet the question of what it takes to be GREAT amidst unlimited challenges faces them all.
In the end, ONE truth prevails; GREATNESS is not a business, personal, or philosophical quest; it’s a HUMAN quest!
Every morning, he stands on a street corner in Queens, next to the hardware store and across the street from the Thai restaurant. Hector stands next to his six biggest competitors, waiting for work.
Slowly, a pickup truck pulls up. The contractor behind the wheel is looking for workers, day laborers. He knows that every morning, they’ll be on this corner, waiting for him. He rolls down the window and offers minimum wage. Which is a lot for this kind of work. All the workers seem the same.
They’re bundled up against the cold, and they’re willing to work cheap. So he picks three and drives away. Hector is left on the corner, in the cold. Maybe someone else will come by today. Maybe not. He’s one of many, a fungible product, a non-choice.
The contractor didn’t expend any time or effort on his choice because it didn’t really matter. He needed cheap physical labor and he got it. He needed obedient workers able to follow simple instructions, and here they were. And Hector got nothing. Hector went home, as he often does, with nothing.
The Business Of Average
We don’t want Hector’s story to resonate with us, because it’s disturbing. Every business is a lot like Hector. Every business stands next to plenty of other businesses, each striving to be like the other, but maybe a little better. Every business waits for the next customer to come along and pick their company.
And of course, sometimes a prospect does pick a particular business. She recognizes it or trusts it or it comes with a recommendation. But more and more (and most of the time), she does precisely what the contractor in Queens did. She picks the cheap one. They’re all the same.
Sounds a lot like Hector. This is uncomfortable, but it’s true. The people you’re hoping will buy from you have more choices and less time than ever before. So the more you try to be like everyone else, the quicker you will be ignored!
The Problem With Average
Being average would have been great if there weren’t many people in that space. The average space is already crowded, there’s little or no room for you. The more you try to be like everyone else, the less visible you become. Being average is the closest alternative to extinction!
When you are like everyone else your existence don’t matter; whether you are present or absent, no one bothers. Why? Because there are so many others just like you to cover up for you. Who needs another average product, service or company when they are already crowded by many? Average is abundant, extraordinary is scarce.
And remember what the laws of economics says;
“The higher the supply [abundance], the lower the demand [price]. And the lower the supply [scarcity], the higher the demand [price]”.
In other words, your goal as an entrepreneur is not to be like everyone else [abundant], you goal is to be like no one else [scarce]. Your goal is not to be abundant [average], your goal is to be significant [unique and useful].
The key to success in business and in life is not conformity, but non-conformity. The value of the products, services or businesses you create will significantly increase the less similar they are to the existing ones.
In the end, the problem with average is that it gets you killed faster!
Beyond Average, Becoming SIGNIFICANT
If you don’t want your business, product/service or brand to end up like Hector above, start doing the following;
Define your market
If you are not going to be like everyone else, then there’s only one way to make that clear; don’t try to serve everyone. Trying to serve everyone is simply serving nobody, period!
The moment you start hunting the same folks your competitions hunt, then you are no different than them. The market your competitions serve is already crowded, go find your own market or better still, create your own market. <– read this unusual article to learn how.
The quickest way to frustrate the work you do is to engage with a client that wants to do the usual. It zaps your creativity, limits your ingenuity and hurts your emotional and financial bank account.
That’s how painful working with the wrong target market can be. It is counter-productive for both you and the customer you serve. You don’t give your best and they don’t get the best, because they pay the least. It’s a loss-loss transaction.
Business is not by force, neither is it a do or die affair. Going into business was your choice; it should also be your choice to determine the kind of customers you want to serve.
Unleash your personality
When you don’t want to be like everyone else, then there’s only one person you’ve got to be; YOURSELF!
That’s right, “be yourself” is perhaps the greatest business advice you could ever get. Don’t be shy to put yourself into your business. Why? Because after all is said and done, business is fundamentally about relationships. People buy from people, period.
Your personality is the human touch you bring to your business every time you interact with your customers, workers or partners. It is simply who you are. This is a strong competitive edge you have in person, because no two people are completely alike. So take advantage of your unique personality traits and inject them into your business.
And so you know, personality traits are simply your;
- Behaviors you possess
Some personality traits are positive and others are negative. Below are 3 great articles you should read to help understand better some of the essential personality traits of successful entrepreneurs.
10 Personality Traits Every Successful Entrepreneur Has — Business Insider
Improve your touchpoints
If you don’t want to be like everyone else, then don’t appear like everyone else.
In communication, According to UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychology Albert Mehrabian , 80% of the message being sent is non-verbal, it’s visual.
- 55% of messages received and processed by your brain are based on body language.
- 38% of messages are processed based on tone of voice.
- Only 7% of your received meaning will be based off the actual words you are hearing.
Meaning, the way you look, the way you sound, the way your products, service or business looks, sends a message to your target customers whether you like it or not.
In business as well as in life, you’ve probably heard this before, “appearance matters”. In business, this is at the core of a marketing concept known as touchpoints. There you go, that’s why marketing is alternatively referred to as business communications.
Touch points are any encounter where customers and business engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions. In other words, every point of contact your business has with the customer is a touchpoint. And everything the customers sees, feels, thinks, hears, and perceives during every encounter with your business all constitute a touchpoint. They are those subtle things that contribute to the total experience customers have with your brand.
- Products: every aspect of the product from design to packaging to functionality to durability and utility.
- Interactions: Two-way interactions that can be in-person (such as in a store), on the phone, or virtual (web sites, blogs, emails, social network and user forum presences, and so on).
- Messages: One-way communications that include brand, collateral, manuals, advertising, packaging, business cards, handbills, and the like.
- Settings: Anywhere that the product is seen or used: a retail store, a friend’s house, TV product placement, events, or shows.
Establish your authority
What better way to not be like everyone else than to be considered an expert?
Why? Because differentiating your company is easier when you can control the message.
Experts are authorities in their fields or industry. They are the people customers turn to for unbiased information when trying to make buying decisions. As you know, in business every company is always trying to get the word out there about their products/services, so in an ocean of ever increasing noise, customers are becoming less receptive to these marketing messages. They are literally turning deaf ears to advertising.
So the only way to get their attention is to rise above the noise and communicate your message through thought leadership. Rather than getting their attention through interruption marketing [advertising], everyone is already doing that, and that’s exactly why there’s so much noise in the marketplace. Going that way is futile, instead to get their attention, take the opposite route through content marketing [thought leadership].
Content marketing is the deliberate sharing of unique and useful information through the use of text, video, audio or picture in order to attract the attention of your target customers, build their trust and empower them to make better buying decisions.
Three words to keep in mind here; attract, build and empower. That’s what experts do, by sharing their knowledge, we get to know them, and because that knowledge empowers us, we like and trust them. And guess what? These are the recipes for influence, no wonder they make more sales because marketing that works is all about influence!
Tools for establishing your authority/expertise include;
- Public speaking – seminars, conferences, etc.
- Social networks – facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Differentiate your offering
This is the culmination of all the points listed above. If they are properly implemented, the end result is a differentiated product/service in the market. This is what a brand means. And that’s the ultimate reward for not being average.
Over to you
In what areas are you still struggling with the business of average?
Share your comments and thoughts below. Thanks!
This gap is caused by fear, those inner demons that rare up their ugly heads as you embark on your entrepreneur’s journey. I refer to them as entrepreneurial fears and they are quite a handful of them.
In my previous post about the greatest fear of an entrepreneur, I discussed 9 of these inner demons [fears entrepreneurs face] with the fear of failing being the greatest.
- Fear of starting
- Fear of the unknown
- Financial fear
- Business Partner fear
- Fear of being your own boss
- Fear of too much workload
- Fear of boredom
- Fear of failing
- Fear of success
Entrepreneurial Fears: Some Hard Facts!
According to a recent research by Mitchell, J. Robert and Shepherd, Dean A. (2011) titled “AFRAID OF OPPORTUNITY: THE EFFECTS OF FEAR OF FAILURE ON ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTION,” After surveying 120 CEOs from technology firms, the fear of failure was discovered to strongly influence entrepreneurial actions, both negatively and positively.
In another recent study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor [GEM 2012], the fear of failure was also discovered as one of the attitudes and perceptions hindering entrepreneurs from pursuing business opportunities globally.
To shed more light on this finding, in the table below, I have extracted the % of entrepreneurs with the fear of failure across all 69 countries that participated in the GEM 2012 study. This factor to a large extent accounts for the level of entrepreneurship in these countries!
Entrepreneurial Attitude & Perception Towards The Fear Of Failure According To GEM 2012 Study
% Of Entrepreneurs With The Fear of Failure
|LATIN AMERICA & CARRIBEAN|
|Trinidad & Tobago||17|
|MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA|
|ASIA PACIFIC & SOUTH ASIA|
|Republic of Korea||43|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||27|
|United States of America||32|
5 Tips For Managing Your Entrepreneurial Fears
In this unusual article, I will be sharing some insights on how to manage these fears and learn how to use them as fuel for your entrepreneurial journey.
This is perhaps the often most overlooked tip for dealing with your entrepreneurial fear. Rather than resist the existence of these entrepreneurial fears, embrace them!
The simple truth is this; every successful entrepreneur out there became successful because of these fears NOT in spite of them. The very existence of these entrepreneurial fears is what propelled every successful entrepreneur forward towards the fulfillment of their entrepreneurial dreams. No one can totally eradicate entrepreneurial fears; so your best bet is to embrace them.
To succeed in business and also in life, you must begin to accept failure and the fear of failing as an inevitable requirement for success. This is very important because failure and the fear of failure serve two purposes that are critical to your entrepreneurial success.
1. Fear of failing serves as warning signals of impending danger:
Rather than letting this fear immobilize you, let them inspire you to take corrective actions that will minimize the impending danger. The truth is when you feel the fear of failing, you are actually not doing some things right in your business and this fear is only acting as a reminder or signal to inspire you to diagnose your business.
When you ignore this fear, you do so at your own peril. But when you heed to it and slow down to really evaluate your business or the business opportunity you are about to embark on, you will most likely discover some improvement areas that would minimize the possibility of failing.
You must have probably heard many people say that fear is a false alarm and they back up their claims with this famous acronym for F.E.A.R –> False Evidence Appearing Real. This is not 100% accurate, as a matter of fact; the emotion of fear was biologically created to keep humans more alert of our immediate environment. In business, this fear keeps you on your toes and this is good because being on your toes constantly gives you a competitive edge. It simply means, you are not complacent, remember, complacency is a sign of a dying business!
2. Failure serves as shortcuts to success:
No one likes to fail, yet failures are practical lessons needed to succeed. Every time you fail, you are a step closer to success. The greatest benefit of failure is that it practically shows you how NOT to do something and that alone is a shortcut to success.
So rather than avoiding failure by all means, learn to fail fast. This is a common phrase in the start-up world these days; it simply means learning from your failures. The quicker you are to implement your business idea, the quicker you will fail and the faster you will learn what works and what doesn’t work. This knowledge is what will get you closer to success faster than any business plan!
So what does it mean to embrace your entrepreneurial fears?
Being brutally honest with yourself about the existence of these fears
Identifying with them and
Seeking out ways to manage them
Never Go It Alone:
The entrepreneur’s journey is not one you should embark on alone. Even though you don’t have a business partner per se, find a strategic support group of like-minded entrepreneurs that you can share your entrepreneurial fears and challenges with. On this journey, silence kills. No one knows it all, so it’s only foolish to assume you can make it alone.
Join a local chamber of commerce, attend your industry meetings or become a member of a business club/association. Whatever it takes, never go it alone. And thanks to the internet, these days there are many online support groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on several blogs and forums. So you have no excuse to be a one man army or to die with your fears alone. Don’t just join, participate!
As I have often mentioned, one of the reasons why I created naijapreneur.com is to provide this support ecosystem for unusual entrepreneurs out there. As many subscribers would testify, in my welcome message I strongly emphasized the need for them to openly communicate their challenges and to actively participate in the community.
It’s not just sufficient to read the unusual articles I share, as a naijapreneur subscriber you owe it to yourself to also share your experience with the community, especially when any unusual article addresses an issue you are currently facing. That’s why we have the comment section; it’s for you guys to interact and let out some of these inner demons. Silence is not a strategy!
Taking it further, I launched a monthly business strategy session to create a mastermind group of 10 serious minded entrepreneurs who can actively support one another with my ongoing coaching/consulting. Very soon, we are going to launch an online private forum where all participants of the monthly strategy sessions can continue their strategic discussions. This forum will only be open to anyone who has attended at least one monthly strategy session. It won’t be open to every naijapreneur subscriber!
Think BIG, Start SMALL:
To manage the fear of starting, I often tell entrepreneurs this; think BIG, start small. Often times you get crippled by the fear of starting because you want to start BIG. From experience, I have noticed that most entrepreneurs want to start out from the end rather than from the beginning. They want to start the business as a finished product rather than as a work in progress.
I can totally relate with this, as an entrepreneur, the dream is often conceived in its finished state. The business idea comes in perfect form, already made and so you want to start out from that perfect stage. This is why you are so afraid to start because the finished product you see with your mind’s eye is too overwhelming for your current situation.
So rather than being inspired by the business idea, it cripples you and blinds you from knowing the very next step to take to make the idea a reality. This is what you must realize as an entrepreneur; ideas come in their finished forms, but actions are taken one step at a time.
In other words, the BIG picture, the BIG idea, must be broken down into tiny practical steps that you can begin to act on immediately. This is the critical difference between dreamers and achievers. Never confuse the dream with reality, in your mind, the dream is finished but in reality you are just getting started. So don’t start from the end, start from the beginning, start from exactly where you are. That’s why it’s called the entrepreneur’s journey. Think BIG, Start small.
Be Neither Optimistic Nor Pessimistic, Be REALISTIC:
This is the most brutal advice for dealing with entrepreneurial fears. Most fears are often as a result of your misinterpretation of your current situation. This misinterpretation can come in two forms, over optimism [too positive] or over pessimism [too negative].
When starting out a business, the first misinterpretation shows up as optimism. You will often have a positive outlook about almost everything. The excitement of creating the next big thing will blindfold you from the reality around you. The typical phrase is; all is well.
The flip side of this misinterpretation of your current situation is pessimism. This shows up when things are not working out according to plan or as envisioned. The natural inclination is to expect the worst by having a negative outlook of everything around you and going about like a loser. The typical phrase is; it’s all over.
Neither of these two misinterpretations of your current situation is good, they amplify your entrepreneurial fears because they create a false perception of reality. When your perception of reality is distorted, fear will be amplified.
The ideal outlook is to be realistic. Being realistic simply means accepting the honest truth about your current situation and taking the appropriate decisions and actions that it demands. It means always being in touch with NOW, leaving yesterday or tomorrow aside and practically addressing the present. It means responding as the situation demands. It means acting based on facts rather than emotions.
If you are afraid of starting, it’s probably because you are trying to bite more than you can chew or you are lagging behind in some vital areas. Don’t shove it aside with over optimism and don’t make matters worse with over pessimism, look the situation in the face and deal with it. If you are biting more than you can chew, start small. And if you are ill prepared, start learning what you need.
If you are afraid of working too much, it’s probably because you are trying to be a jack of all trades or you are not passionate about what you do. Look the situation in the face and deal with it appropriately. If you are trying to be a jack of all trades, seek for more strategic help like partnership or outsourcing. And if you are engaged in a business you don’t have passion for, be realistic with yourself, no matter how profitable, more work will mean less life for you.
If you are afraid of running out of money [financial fear], it’s probably because you are spending too much or you are making too little. Don’t say everything will be alright and continue spending too much [optimism] and don’t panic that everything will come crumbling down because you are not making enough [pessimism], rather look the situation in the face and find out what is exactly wrong and respond accordingly.
The bottom-line is this; when you give the situation exactly what it demands rather than misinterpreting it with over optimism or over pessimism, you will be less fearful. In other words, it’s not what has happened, or what will happen; it’s what is happening. Don’t let negative events of the past hold you back with fear from moving forward and don’t let future expectations make you bite more than you can chew. Always take a realistic view of the situation and let it dictate the appropriate action.
Acquire Relevant Knowledge And Skills:
This is another often overlooked solution for managing entrepreneurial fears. As humans, we are naturally more afraid of the things we don’t understand. As the popular saying goes; “what you don’t know can kill you!”
The same is true in business. If you are about to embark on your entrepreneurial journey without adequate information and necessary skills, your chances of failure is amplified and this alone will significantly increase your fear of failure, fear of starting, your financial fears and fear of the unknown.
Knowledge they say is power, nothing can be truer. Fear melts away in the face of knowledge. The clearer you are about the path you are treading on, the less scary the journey will be. But ignorance fuels fear; the less you know about the path you are on, the scarier the journey will be. There is a limit to how far commonsense can take you on this journey!
Knowledge bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be. As a matter of fact, research shows that an individual is more likely to pursue a business opportunity or execute a business idea if he/she believes they possess the relevant capabilities – knowledge, skills, and talent to excel [GEM 2012 study].
The research revealed that economies with more emphasis on entrepreneurial education produced far more successful entrepreneurs than their counterparts. In other words, knowledgeable and skilled entrepreneurs are far more likely to succeed in their entrepreneurial pursuit than their ignorant and unskilled peers. So how prepared are you for where you are going?
Over to You!
The data has spoken and so have I, entrepreneurial fears are real and they greatly influence your journey as an entrepreneur. The choice is yours whether to let these fears positively or negatively influence you.
This unusual article was written to help you draw some positive insights on how to deal with these fears; this is obviously not the end of this matter. So here’s your own chance to add to the discussion by sharing with us from experience; how have you been able to deal with some of these entrepreneurial fears?
Use the comment section below to contribute, thanks a lot!
In my previous post, I talked about the second most read and most searched for topic on naijapreneur —branding.
In today’s unusual article, I will be talking about the first most read and most searched for topic on naijapreneur —business failure.
Repeatedly, from studying the naijapreneur’s Google analytics, the most recurring search engine terms or phrases that bring in the most traffic from search engines to the site is related to business failure, entrepreneurship failure, why entrepreneurs fail, causes of business failure, signs of business failure and many more.
I never knew this fact until I started this blog, it turns out that the greatest fear of an entrepreneur is the fear of failure. Entrepreneurs fear that what they’ve built is going to look lame to others.
They fear that all the countless hours they’ve spent working on a project won’t pay off. They fear that it’s time to go back to the drawing board, yet again!
In this unusual article, I want to take a deeper look into some of these entrepreneurial fears and offer some useful ideas on how to deal with them.
9 Common Fears Faced By Entrepreneurs
If you’ve been an entrepreneur for some time now or aspiring to be one anytime soon, then you would be familiar with the following common entrepreneurial fears;
Fear Of Starting:
The first obvious fear of an entrepreneur is the fear of starting. You’ve got a great business idea, you’ve discussed with a couple of people and they think it’s viable, you’ve done some form of market research and you can see some market potentials and now it’s time to start.
But you find yourself delaying, procrastinating, and over analyzing. Rather than actually starting your business, you are still stuck planning your business. This is the first fear that every entrepreneur faces, it’s the fear of starting.
The whole business idea is so cool on paper that you become so afraid it will be different when launched in reality. You are afraid things won’t go according to plan. You are afraid this is too good to be true. You are afraid something might go wrong. And trust me; it certainly will be a whole lot different in reality. So yes your fear of starting is a valid fear. It is real.
Fear Of The Unknown:
Another common fear entrepreneurs face is the fear of the unknown. As an entrepreneur one thing that is guaranteed on this unusual journey is that nothing is guaranteed. On this path, there are no guarantees, nothing is certain!
This is the most disturbing fear of being an entrepreneur and even the successful entrepreneurs still nurture this fear. Any business can go up in flames anytime any day. That you are big or successful doesn’t protect you from this fear, the future is unpredictable.
Your best selling product can suddenly be knocked out of the market by a competition. Your most profitable client can run out of business or switch to another seller. A disruptive technology can wipe out your entire business model. And the scariest of all fear of the unknown is an economic depression or a natural disaster.
In business as well as in life, the only constant thing is change and this change can either be positive or negative. The disturbing truth is that no one is guaranteed of the kind of change that lies in stock for them in the nearest future. So again, this fear is a very valid one. It’s so ok to be afraid of the future. Why? Because it’s unknown!
One of the challenges of starting and running a business is funding. To tackle this problem, entrepreneurs seek for funds from several sources; some internal from family and friends and others external from investors and banks. These borrowed funds can be very scary for entrepreneurs especially when you find out that the ones you had previously borrowed are still yet unpaid.
Another financial fear peculiar to entrepreneurs is the fear of not paying the bills. This is especially peculiar to entrepreneurs who had to leave the corporate world to be their own bosses. Having left the comfort of regular paychecks, the reality of not having enough money to cover living expenses and also business expenses can be a paralyzing.
Again, these two financial fears are very valid. It’s ok to be afraid of the debts that are hanging on your head and it’s totally human to be scared of being broke!
Business Partner Fear:
At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, if not at the early stage, you will need to get other people on board. For most startup entrepreneurs, the first person to get on board is a business partner or a co-founder as it’s popularly called. This brings us to another kind of fear entrepreneurs face, the fear of choosing a wrong business partner or co-founder.
A business partner or co-founder can make or break your business. Choosing the wrong partner can put a limit on the progress of your business and choosing the right partner can position your business to unlimited heights. So yes, it’s not out of place to have this fear.
Fear Of Being Your Own Boss:
For first time entrepreneurs just out of the corporate world who have been used to working in a structured environment, the first fear they experience as entrepreneurs is the fear of being their own boss. You’ve been used to following a script created by your boss, now it’s your turn to create the scripts and this alone can be very scary especially for first time entrepreneurs.
According to Psychologist, Dr. Colleen Long;
“Working for yourself is both the best and worst part of being an entrepreneur. No one’s going to tell you what to do. The days can pass you by and you haven’t really done anything because there’s no one giving you the framework for what to do.”
Fear Of Too Much Workload:
Contrary to what many people think, entrepreneurs don’t have less workload than employees, as a matter of fact they have more workloads. And this can be very scary to those switching from the corporate world.
On this unusual journey, there are no nine-to-fives; you have a 24hours working schedule. As most entrepreneurs would attest to, you even work in your sleep. So yes, when you think about the workload, it’s totally healthy to be afraid. Why? Because entrepreneurship is very demanding. It’s not for the lazy bones!
Fear Of Boredom:
You would think its only overload that can scare you as an entrepreneur, how about boredom? This is one of the fears associated with running your business on a day-to-day basis. It gets to a certain point where there’s nothing exciting about your business and boredom starts to set in. You start to lose the initial passion and drive that you had in the early days of the business. Everything begins to seem like a routine.
Oh yes, this can be very scary. And the most people susceptible to this fear are serial entrepreneurs who enjoy starting up businesses rather than running businesses. It’s the adrenaline rush of the startup phase that interests them rather than the structured processes of running a business.
If you feel this fear, this is a good indication that you should get a complementary partner or manager early on in the business who can continue when you run out of steam. Another indication of this fear is the fact that you should check yourself and be sincere with yourself; do you really have passion for the business you are about to start? Or the business you are currently into? You can only get bored of something you don’t love doing. So watch it!
Fear Of Failing:
Now to the biggest of them all, the fear of outright failure. All of the fears outlined above one way or the other is summed up in this one fear alone. The statistics are so terrifying of the number of businesses that fail yearly. This is one of the reasons I get so much search traffics on this topic because people are searching for answers on how to become the few who make it through without failing.
Fear Of Success:
I left this point last because it’s one entrepreneurial fear that many rarely talk about. Besides failure, another fear entrepreneurs nurse is the fear of success; what if we become so successful that everything begins to fall apart because of our inability to meet?
Success can kill as well as failure. Becoming too big too fast is one sign of success destroying your business. So yes, it’s not just failure you should be afraid of, you should equally be afraid of succeeding too!
All the entrepreneurial fears outlined above are all valid, so it’s ok for you to have one or more of them as you embark on this unusual journey of entrepreneurship. What is not normal is going on with these fears without seeking out ways on how to cope with them.
This will be the focus of the concluding part of this unusual article. In this post, I just wanted to expose you to the 9 common fears most entrepreneurs face in business. I hope I have been able to do much justice to this?
As always, it’s possible I miss out on some of these fears, that’s why this is a conversation and not an instruction. The comment section is how you participate by adding your experiences, suggestions and feedback that will further enrich the discussion.
Over to you, see you in the comment sections!
This is the paradox of business; to do or to build?
To help you master this paradox of business is what this unusual article is about, read on!
What Is The Paradox Of Business?
If you’ve been in business for some time now, you will begin to notice some certain re-occurring trends; while pursuing more business you sometimes stray from your primary/core business. You find yourself doing some other business that is not your core business so long as they rake in some cash.
While trying to get your business off the ground, you neglect some key strategic elements that can help your business on the long run. Deep down you know they are important, but just because they aren’t urgent you keep postponing them till it becomes too late.
While being occupied with the day-to-day operations of your business, you realize you’re no longer paying adequate attention to pursuing your vision. You suddenly forget about the change you originally set out to create in the industry. You forget about the very idea that inspired your going into business. You get caught in doing business as usual.
While making enough sales with your current product/service, you forget about product/service innovation. While satisfying existing customers, you fail to pursue new ones. While pursuing new ones, you fail to satisfy existing ones.
On and on, you find yourself and your business falling short in one or more important aspects of your business. All these are the realities of being in business and all these are what I refer to as the paradox of business.
The world of business is filled with so many contradictory roles, expectations and functions. It wouldn’t be out of place to say that business is very complex consisting of several aspects that are so contradictory in nature.
At one end is the pressure [need] to do whatever you can to keep the business going; this I refer to as hustlepreneurship –doing business. At the other end is the desire [want] to build your business into something great; this I refer to as entrepreneurship –building business.
And therein lies the paradox of business –the contradictory roles, expectation and functions of hustlepreneurship and entrepreneurship; the pressure of survival and the desire for significance; the need to do business and the want of building a business.
HUSTLEpreneurship: The NEED To Do Business
Dreams, desires or aspirations are important, but none of them comes true without action, work, execution or hustle. The entrepreneurial journey in most cases begins with a dream, a desire or aspiration to create something significant that will positively alter the lives of many. This is a noble cause and as with all noble cause, there’s need for action, work, execution or hustle.
Show me a successful entrepreneur and I will show you a man/woman who hustles. In the heart of entrepreneurship lies hustlepreneurship. You cannot have one without the other!
Hustlepreneurship is the inevitable art of doing business. It is inevitable because you simply cannot succeed in business if you are not prepared to do business. But what does it mean to do business? What does it mean to hustle?
Doing Business Means….
- Selling/closing a sale
- Freelancing/doing contracts
- Managing your Inventory/stock
- Accepting any and every deal
- Doing paper/administrative work
- Making contacts/networking
- Pursuing more business/revenue
- Servicing existing clients/customers
- Day-to-day operations
Here’s the bottom-line when it comes to hustlepreneurship; it’s all about focusing on the NOW, TODAY, SHORT TERM and forgetting or neglecting the future, tomorrow and long term. If you only focus on today as an entrepreneur, your business will not live to see tomorrow. This is what I call the most deadly trap of business; being caught up in doing business –hustlepreneurship.
Many entrepreneurs are not aware of this fact and that’s why their businesses suffer. Ironically, many are aware of this fact and yet their businesses still suffer. Why?
Because hustlepreneurship alone is not all that it takes to succeed in business. It is a necessary element of business success, but certainly not the ONLY element. I have met so many entrepreneurs who hustle their hearts out in business and yet they still struggle with their business. It is true you need to take action, work, execute and hustle to do business; but equally true is the fact that you should dream, plan, strategize and create structures to build your business.
Entrepreneurship: The DESIRE To Build A Business
Entrepreneurship is about starting, growing and building a business that matters. It is the deliberate use of one’s life to create a significant company that helps to solve one or more problems plaguing humanity.
As I have come to learn in business and also in life, it’s not just action, work, execution or hustle alone that amounts to success, no. What amount to success is strategic action, smart work, organized execution and deliberate hustle. This is what entrepreneurship entails.
Entrepreneurs don’t just do business, they build businesses!
The secret is this; let your hustle bring you closer to the fulfillment of your purpose, dream or goal of building a business that matters. This is what it means to succeed; this is what it means to make progress. Without a definite or desired end in mind, without the pursuit of something great or significant, all you do in your business is nothing but expended efforts. This is what I refer to as activity –anything that keeps you engaged, busy or occupied but doesn’t take you in the direction you want to go.
So, you need to balance your hustling with entrepreneurship. You need to NOT only do business but must begin to build a business. What does it mean to build a business?
Building A Business Means….
- Strategic Planning
- Strategic Execution
- Strategic Marketing
- Creating a powerful brand
- Creating a corporate culture/business DNA
- Creating operational processes/structures
- Developing competitive strategy
- Developing innovative products/services
- Developing your people/employees
- Delivering excellent customer services
- Forming strategic partnerships/alliance
- Improving existing products/services
- Launching new products/services
- Research and development
The bottom-line when it comes to building a business is to focus on tomorrow, the future and the long term. This is how great companies are built, they don’t only focus on being relevant today, they create the future.
They dream dreams, nurture ideas, create environments where creativity thrives, they form strategic alliances with others and they constantly seek out great talents to hire. They actively allocate their time into activities that helps them to continually remain relevant today, tomorrow and always.
The key to overcoming the paradox of business is to create a healthy balance between doing business [hustlepreneurship] and building business [entrepreneurship]. And the answer is simple; make sure all that you are doing in your business is aligned with and contributes to your corporate purpose.
In other words, don’t just do business [hustle], do ONLY what helps your business to go and grow in the right direction –entrepreneurship. And eliminate all other things that you do that doesn’t align with your corporate purpose.
Over to you
Where are you caught up in the paradox of business? Hustlepreneurship or entrepreneurship?
At what point in your business did you discover that you’ve been caught up in only one aspect of the paradox of business? What were the particular signs or trends that made you come to this realization?
What did you suddenly realize as a result of reading this unusual article? What new thing did you learn and how do you intend to apply it in your own business?
How To Avoid The Trap Of Worrying And Unlock The Power Of Thinking To Solve Your Business Challenges
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, as a matter of fact; they are only paid when they solve people’s problems through the creation of products/services.
To a large extent the ability to solve problems is determined by the quality of your thoughts or your thinking skills. Thinking is a skill and just like every other skill, it can be learnt and developed.
In this unusual article, I’ve decided to unveil the mystery behind ‘thinking’ so that the ‘art of thinking’ can be learnt, understood and applied effectively by entrepreneurs.
It’s my aim through this article to explain as clearly as possible what ‘thinking’ really means, point out the differences between ‘thinking’ and ‘worrying’ and how you can tell the one from the other
What Exactly Is THINKING?
“Thought is action in rehearsal”
– Sigmund Freud
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, ‘thinking’ means the use of the mind to consider something; to form connected ideas; to try to solve problem[s]. It also means; to have ideas, words or images in your mind; to intend something; to have a plan about something.
So, ‘thinking’ can be defined as the art of using the mind to generate ideas, find solutions to problems and to formulate a plan or strategy for implementing the ideas or solutions generated. Put succinctly, thinking is the art of creating answers or solutions to existing problems. It involves primarily the use of the mind, which means ‘thinking’ cannot be seen, but imagined; it can’t be touched, because it’s invincible.
Thinking is regarded as an ‘ART’ and not an ‘ACT’; because it’s only after thinking that we discover the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ to do. That is; the knowledge of ‘what’ to do and ‘how’ to do is derived from thinking. So, it’s not an action in itself, but has the potential to produce an action or course of action. The art [inspiration] of thinking produces an act [action].
Thinking going by its definition has mainly two objectives.
- Firstly, to generate ideas or find solutions to existing problems, and
- Secondly, to formulate the generated ideas or solutions into plans or strategies that can be implemented.
Combining these two objectives, the essence of thinking is to birth new ideas or find solutions to existing problems and converting the ideas generated or solutions found into workable plans. This is the sole essence of thinking; anything short of these two is another exercise, the opposite of thinking known as worrying. If after thinking you are unable to draw up a plan of action based on the ideas or solutions you generated, then you’ve just finished ‘worrying’ and have not been thinking.
THINKING vs WORRYING
“Worry is like rocking a chair – it gives you something to do but won’t take you anywhere.”
– Unknown Author
Worrying is “thinking” aimlessly; not having a definite purpose or objective in mind. It’s focusing on a problem and all its negative attributes rather than focusing on possible solutions. When you worry, you keep going round a particular problem and never being able to arrive at any possible solution.
You think of all the other things associated with a problem, except its solution. Rather than looking beyond the problem to arrive at a possible solution, ‘worrying’ looks inside the problem so that it can come up with any suitable explanation.
Thinking leaves you motivated, inspired, eager and refreshed; worrying leaves you depressed, de-motivated, sorrowful, and angry with yourself. Thinking is searching for options and solutions; worrying is searching for excuses and explanations. Thinking liberates – it sets your passion loose, it ignites your creativity. Worrying depresses – it shuts down all your creativity, weakens your passion and awakens all your negative emotions.
Thinking is productive, it’s an attempt to generate answers or solutions to problems and not an attempt to create more problems or find excuses for the existing ones. While thinking aims at finding a way out of a problem, worrying tries to find a way to justify the problem by putting the blame on something or someone else.
Thinking is progressive; it leads forward and gives you a new direction. It focuses on lessons learnt from mistakes made; it’s ever ready to accept corrections. It’s projective – opens up new ways.
Worrying is regressive; it always leads backward trying to justify your present condition or situation. It’s starting with the things you cannot do or have limited resources to do. Worrying is refusing to change; doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.
It’s thinking about the ‘good old days’. Worrying focuses mainly on one’s weaknesses, keeping records of all the things one is unable to get, the things you don’t have. It’s playing the blame game; “if only this …, then ……. That”.
Worrying is not the same as thinking. To ‘think’ means to birth, generate ideas or solutions and to draw up plans or strategies for implementation. ‘Worry’ on the other hand, is focusing on a problem and all the unpleasant things surrounding that problem. Thinking is the deliberate use of the mind to achieve a specific end; this end could either be;
- A generated idea or solution and
- A formulated plan or strategy.
This implies that the ‘art of thinking’ always has a specific agenda it wants to accomplish; it’s never an exercise in futility. Each time you think, at the back of your mind there’s always a set aim or objective you want to accomplish, this could be a pressing problem or need.
So, thinking is the medium through which you work out the ideas or solutions and formulate plans or strategies that can be implemented to accomplish your desired aim or objective.
Thinking as a rule, must always yield a solution and not just a conclusion. A solution is a way out of a problem; a conclusion is an explanation for a problem. Within every problem lies both a difficulty and a possibility; thinking is searching for the possibilities while worrying is searching for the difficulties.
This is what clearly differentiates thinking from worrying; because the former produces a course of action [solution], while the later finds a reason for inaction [conclusion].
There are two ways to tell whether you’ve been thinking or worrying.
- First, by asking yourself this; “what exactly am I focusing on, the problem or a solution”? If your focus is totally on the problem; then you are worrying, but if your focus is on finding a possible solution; then you are thinking.
For example, if a person’s problem is that he doesn’t have a job, ‘thinking’ would be to search for a possible solution – “how can I get a job?” while ‘worrying’ would be to try to justify the situation – “why is it so hard to get a job?”. The emphasis here is on result, what exactly do you want, a solution to the problem or an explanation for the problem.
- The second way to tell whether you’ve been thinking or worrying is by looking at your mood. If you’ve been thinking, you will feel very excited, uplifted and energized, you will have a strong urge to immediately implement the ideas or solutions you’ve been able to generate.
And if you’ve been worrying on the other hand, then the opposite is the case. You’ll feel weak, upset, downcast and self pity will immediately set in. Rather than generating ideas or solutions, you’d have succeeded in creating more issues to brood over.
The bottom-line is this; Thinking is reasoning with the mind; worrying is reasoning with the heart; one is rational, the other emotional. I’ll conclude with this beautiful quote by Denis Waitley, I think it’s a perfect summary;
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer”.
Are you thinking or worrying? What lessons did you pick from reading this and how are you going to implement those lessons to solve your business challenges as an entrepreneur?
Can’t wait to hear from you, share your thoughts and comments below!