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So What's Next?

Sometimes this is the most important question to ask yourself.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're in for any length of , you will experience three very distinct environments in which the most valuable question you can ask yourself is "what's next?"

Environment No. 1: When you fail.
I imagine you know what it feels like to fail. I sure do, having been bankrupt more than once and sued multiple times. I was personally indicted by the U.S. Attorney General on 58 felony counts totaling more than 600 years in prison if I had been convicted. I was found not guilty on all counts, by the way, and the government later apologized.

When I have faced catastrophes of the financial, legal or personal variety, I've come to realize that the faster I could get to "next," the sooner I recovered.

It all has to do with your subconscious mind. I'm convinced your brain works on a deep and literal level, whether you realize it or not. It will amplify whatever your conscious mind is chewing on.

If you continually think "How could I have been such an idiot!" then your obedient subconscious will look for answers as to why you are such an idiot. If you think "Someday I want to be rich," your brain will explore how you can become rich someday--but off in the distant future, not now. You specified someday, after all.

If instead you think "What can I do next to fix this?" then its mandate is to find a solution. I suggest that you not deny any realities of your failures, but that you mourn quickly. Wring your hands, punch the wall and move on, with plenty of "next" thoughts as soon as possible.

Environment No. 2: When you succeed.
"Next" is your friend when you're extremely successful.

In my case, I had become a self-made billionaire, and the 25th richest person in America by some accounts. I had exclusive contracts with 21 of the top 25 banks in America for my services. As CEO of my company, I found that my highest and best value was to think day and night about "next."

How could I expand our operation to and eventually the world? How could I line up the financing I needed without diluting the equity in my privately held business? I found that if I asked the right questions and focused on the future, my subconscious would deliver the goods.

Environment No. 3: When your customers want more.
I don't know the business you're in, but I can tell you something about your customers. They pretty much follow the 80-20 Rule. Eighty percent of them have a passing interest in what you have to offer. They may be your customers, but they can be stolen by a competitor if you're not careful.

On the other hand, 20 percent your customers have an insatiable appetite for what you have to offer: They buy your premium offering. They become great testimonials for your goods and services. Some of them might even leave their credit cards on file for any new products or services. These customers are not only insatiable; they're highly profitable. They require no arm-twisting to buy and spread the good word about you.

Oddly enough, most businesses do not cater to their insatiable customers. If you're smart, you should always have a higher-end, "next" product for them to buy.

, the chairman of McDonald's, understood the concept of "next" when he said about his competitors, "We invent faster than they can copy."

Unleash the smartest friend you have--your subconscious mind--by focusing it on what you want to find around the next corner.

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