8 Key Steps To Success
The life of an entrepreneur is unpredictable. There will be ups, there will be downs. While you can't always control what happens, you can choose how you respond.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
- Player: Justin Cohen
- Claim to fame: International speaker. Author of four books and seven audiobooks. Television host.
- Visit: www.justinpresents.com
1. Success starts with awareness
You should always be open and honest with yourself about both your strengths and weaknesses. It's easy (and tempting) to ignore your flaws and not acknowledge them, but if you're not self-aware, you can't improve and better yourself. Self-improvement begins with the realisation that improvement is actually needed.
As an entrepreneur, you typically need a multitude of divergent skills. You can't be an expert in all of them, but acknowledge any large gaps in your knowledge and educate yourself. You don't need to become an expert in numbers, for example, but you need to be able to have a meaningful conversation with your accountant.
2. Don't fear failure
We all know that entrepreneurship is risky. Most new businesses fail. However, you can't let fear of failure incapacitate you. Instead, try to see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Entrepreneurs fail on average 3,8 times before they finally succeed. Those failures are school fees.
That's the MBE, or Master of Business Experience, probably more valuable than an MBA. The biggest failures never fail, they sit on the sidelines telling you why it's not going to work and they're always right. How can you score a goal if you don't get on the field? And if you do get on the field and lose, there's always a lesson to win.
3. Don't blame external causes when things go wrong
It's easy, for instance, to blame the economy when your business takes a hit, and you might even be justified in doing so, but this sort of mindset doesn't help you to come up with a solution. As long as you're pointing fingers, you're not taking charge of your own destiny. You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. What do Microsoft, Burger King, CNN, and Hyatt have in common? They are just a few of the many companies started during a recession. What's going on out there is less important than what you do about it.
4. As an entrepreneur, you are either in a problem, emerging from a problem or about to go into a problem
The reward for solving problems is we serve our customers, make money, live our calling and get bigger problems to solve. We've got to change our attitude to problems. Without problems entrepreneurs couldn't exist. When we solve them we need to take time to celebrate. Our caveman brains are wired for survival, that means we focus more on threats than rewards, less on wins than losses. We need to take time to celebrate those wins, however small, so that we stay upbeat and optimistic — a critical mindset for entrepreneurs.
5. Optimism and tenacity is crucial to success
As an entrepreneur, you're going to hear "no' a lot. It typically requires at least five exposures to a new product or business before someone comes on board. Ask just about any successful person what his or her secret to success has been, and they'll mention persistence. This requires a kind of "smart' optimism. You're not naïve in that you just believe that everything will magically work itself out. You remain optimistic that whatever the problem, you'll find the solution. As mentioned earlier, failure breeds success…
6. Money cannot be your sole driver
Of course money is a driver, but it cannot be the only thing that inspires you. Life rewards people who are on a mission. Huge success comes from the dedication to making a real difference. In my experience most great entrepreneurs are motivated more by making a difference in the world than in their bank balance. But when you're truly driven to make a difference in the world you'll feel the difference in your bank balance. When you serve others, you serve yourself.
7. Service is key
If you're dedicated to your mission and optimistic in your outlook, that'll translate to the service you offer customers and clients. That's critical. When people are polled as to why they've stopped buying from a particular shop or restaurant, 15% will say price and 15% will say quality. The other 70% will say service. Great service is very often the difference between failure and success.
8. Are you able to motivate yourself?
I'm often called a "motivational' speaker, but I don't like that term very much, because motivation is like a warm bath: It goes cold very quickly. Success lies in self-motivation, especially if you're an entrepreneur.
If there's anything you need to accomplish, but you're struggling to motivate yourself, it's probably because you're focused on short-term pleasure instead of long-term gains. You have to actively re-orient yourself. Make a conscious effort to focus on long-term success.
This can be hard at first, but once you get into a healthy habit, you start getting intrinsic pleasure from it. It's like exercise: It can be torture for the first few weeks, but once you get into the habit, it becomes a crucial and very enjoyable part of your day. Your ultimate motivation is purpose. Continue to remind yourself why you're doing this; how the world is going to be a little better off because of you.