Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

The 2 Words Entrepreneurs Should Avoid

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When my business partner and I started Wild Creations several years ago, it was my first endeavor into entrepreneurship. I had a business plan, a healthy line of credit, and a couple of credit cards with no balance. Predictably, our first year was slow, but we had what we needed to get by and keep the engine firing.

Then Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy, sending the entire global economy into a tailspin.

In a matter of weeks, we found ourselves in the middle of the Great Recession, and all of our credit vanished. We had leveraged the business completely to get it started, and now we found ourselves having our credit slashed every time we made a payment, like sending valuable working capital into a black hole. 

Related: Hungry Entrepreneurs Need True Grit to Get Their Next Meal

I soon understood what it was to run an all-cash business.

During these times, my partner and I would often withdraw after work to our favorite watering hole to talk business. We had creditors calling because we were missing payments in order to use our cash for operations, and we had extinguished every possible resource we had, including cashing out our 401Ks.

The future looked bad.

As we sulked and strategized over our happy-hour offerings, we found ourselves regularly integrating one phrase into our conversation: “If only ...

If only we had money.

If only we had more time.

If only we had credit.

If only we had a few key employees.

If only we (fill in the blank).

Related: 7 Tips to Stay Afloat When Times Get Tough

We were very good at theorizing how awesome we would be if only we had everything we needed to be awesome.

These conversations were common at the beginning, until one night we made the conscious decision to stop talking about what we might do and focus on what we could do. We decided to make things happen. 

That was all the motivation we needed.

The simple truth is that every entrepreneur could create and lead a highly successful, multinational company with the right money, resources and expertise. More than likely, you do not have these, so do not allow yourself or your stakeholders to get caught in the vicious and perpetual “if only” cycle. Focus on what you can achieve and make the best of it.

If you need a little help to get started, I suggest that you create an “if only” jar. Each time someone in your organization starts a phrase with these two destructive words, add a dollar.

Bonus tip: If you have a favorite watering hole, make it a drinking game.

Do you have a similar experience? Please share with others in the comments section below.

Related: It's Up to Us to Make Our Own Fate

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks