Mental Briefcase

On the road to startup, file away each experience, and use it to help overcome challenges later.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Just as Mark's marketing consulting company was starting to take off, his wife received a job offer that would significantly advance her career. Unfortunately, her new job would mean relocating to the opposite coast. While Mark wanted to support his wife's professional ambitions, he was disheartened because his clients were all based in their hometown.

Mark was concerned that if they relocated, he would waste all the hard work he had invested in starting his own business. He also wasn't sure that he had the energy to start all over again.

There will always be challenges to overcome on the way to achieving our dream goals. Often, when faced with a new obstacle, we mistakenly believe we have to begin from scratch and redo all our previous research, analysis and investigation.

Avoid this type of linear thinking in your decision-making process. While you have to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, recognize that each time you take on a new challenge, you gain experience that you can recycle and use on your next project.

1. Embrace new challenges as learning situations. Rather than wallowing in the distress of your circumstances, acknowledge your new reality while keeping your end goal in sight. Make a declaration about how you can gain from this roadblock. This streamlines your thinking and helps you align your attitude with your objectives.

2. Let your experience guide you. Reinforce your ability to succeed during times of change reviewing your achievements and the steps you took to attain them. Use this gold mine of knowledge to create a list of actions you can take today to transform your obstacles into opportunities. These actions can be as practical as informing your clients of your changing business plan or brainstorming options with a trusted colleague. Having a clear direction unites your goals with your new reality.

3. Leverage your connections. We often assume that customers and colleagues will react negatively to changes in our business. Don't fear discord; communicate your situation to others plainly and honestly. Your integrity will boost people's confidence in you and encourage them to give you help and advice. Mark, for example, called an important client and shared the news of his wife's new job. To his surprise, the client congratulated him and his family. Then he offered a means for Mark to continue their business relationship and even provided contacts in the city to which Mark and his wife were moving.

4. Test different paths to deliver the benefit you offer. Be open to new methods of growing your business. Periodically ask your employees and colleagues for different ways to package the products or services you offer. Mark met with a consultant who suggested that he meet with clients via teleconferences rather than in person. He tested this technique with a trusted client and found it produced wonderful results. Mark now offers it as part of the package of services he sells.

Perseverance leads to success. Rather than spend time worrying about how new circumstances might prevent you from achieving your goals, appreciate that you are in control of creating your future. No matter what obstacles are placed in your path, know that you can and will triumph by embracing the abundance of solutions that your network and the world offer.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business.
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