From the October 2003 issue of Startups

I recently asked a group of budding entrepreneurs a simple question: "What is your greatest concern about the future of your business?" I was fairly certain the predominant answer would be "money" or "generating income."

However, it seems that today's entrepreneurial minds are packed with somewhat less tangible worries. Most responded with their fears about the uncertainty that tomorrow brings. Their minds were filled with "what ifs" about the economy, safety and terrorism. These concerns, which are beyond their control, were stopping them even before they got started.

Uncertainty will always be part of our lives. We can control our actions, but no matter how hard we try, we can't control outcomes. To succeed, we need to find our own power and understand what we can and can't control.

Events happen. Stop thinking of the negative outcomes that could possibly occur; instead, revel in the surprises that uncertainty brings. Your next action will ultimately influence your business.

As entrepreneurs, we realize that nothing is insurmountable. Create your personal power to work through any uncertainty, and grow your business by:

  • Viewing yourself positively: There is nothing more powerful than developing confidence in your ability to solve problems. Your trust in yourself is the core foundation for your personal power. If you work from your instincts and passion, people will want to help and support you.
  • Developing a personal vision for your company: When your ultimate goals are clear, the steps to achieve those goals become more organic. This provides guidance for you to keep moving forward, even if circumstances force you to shift directions. Include the benefit you provide to the world in your vision. It inspires others to help you achieve success.
  • Creating a solid emotional foundation: Your energy propels you in one direction-toward the success of your business. The best fuel to keep your energy high is emotional support. Ask for help from your staff, family or friends-whoever brings you the most comfort and inspiration. Their ideas and understanding will strengthen your resilience. Sometimes it just takes an "I know you can do it" from a friend for you to move forward with confidence.
  • Taking decisive action: Build certainty into your business by deciding to take it one bold step at time. Do not dwell on uncertain outcomes; instead, focus on the one activity you can accomplish today. A small accomplishment can produce results that are larger than life. Unexpected outcomes can propel you to success faster than planned. Let the magic happen.
  • Changing direction as required: The products and services you offer meet the needs of the world today. While your vision stays constant, the means to achieve it will change. You must continually adjust your products and services as you learn what the market demands. The great explorers didn't become famous because they found what they were looking for; they became famous because they discovered something unexpected.
  • Rewarding the people around you: Success comes from building relationships, so always thank those involved. This can be as simple as sending an electronic greeting, including a thank you in a newsletter or cooking and sharing a special meal. Don't forget to celebrate your accomplishments by taking care of yourself, too.

We all have a wonderful gift-the power to achieve what is in our hearts. Calm or turmoil, boom or bust, there is one thing we know with certainty: There will always be people innovating and pushing the limits. Enjoy stepping toward the future, and celebrate the outcomes you experience.