Would You Rather Change or Let Your Business Die? When markets shift, you've got to pivot and adapt. When you experience ongoing issues in your business, you've got to change. But when it comes down to it, will you follow through?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When I'm training people in digital marketing for their businesses, one thing I run into is this huge resistance to change. Even when I've proven to them how using the strategies will catapult their businesses to new levels, and they know they should do it, most still have a hard time.
To be successful as entrepreneurs, most of us need to change something in our lives: our habits, our managerial style, our systems or even the product or service we offer. When markets shift, you've got to pivot and adapt. When you experience ongoing issues in your business, you've got to change. We know this yet, change still feels hard. But if our very lives were on the line, we'd make the change, right? Well, maybe not.
Most would risk death rather than change
Alan Deutschman wrote a book called Change or Die. In it, he says that cardiological studies show that 9 out of 10 people who are at risk of heart attack will not make the changes they need to take. They're given instructions about not smoking, drinking and eating less, avoiding lots of stress and regular exercise — all the things they need to do to have the best chance of staying alive. Their doctors tell them if they don't follow through, they will probably die. Yet when you check back with them a year later, 9 out of 10 still didn't make the changes.
Well, Mutual of Omaha got smart and realized that they were paying a heck of a lot for heart bypass surgeries and angioplasties. In the early 1990s, they partnered with Dr. Dean Ornish from UCSF to run an experiment. They took 194 patients who had clogged arteries and horrible habits. They gave them the same instructions everybody else got about healthy lifestyle habits, but they added in things like meditation, support groups, aerobics classes and expert coaches to help them stop smoking, etc. They ran this program for one year and then left everyone on their own. After three years, 77% of the patients were still doing what they needed to do. They didn't need surgery, and some had even reversed their condition.
What was the difference? I'd say it has to do with three main things: support, accountability and expert coaching or mentoring.
1. Find a support group of your peers
This is really the concept of masterminding that is one of Napoleon Hill's 13 keys to success. It's getting together with people who share your drive to succeed. They don't need to be in your industry. In fact, sometimes, it's better if they aren't. But they do need to be like-minded and come together "in the spirit of harmony."
A mastermind group has all kinds of practical benefits. For one, it brings you extra years of experience. If you've been in business for three years and someone else in the group has been at it for seven, that adds up to 10 years of experience to draw from. It brings you different perspectives to issues or problems you're dealing with. A mastermind group can be motivating as you cheer each other on to success. It can help pump you up when you've run into what looks like a brick wall. The group can inspire you as you see others in it succeed. A mastermind can come up with bunches of creative ideas that are outside your own little box. And when you need to make any kind of change, they can support you while you do it.
2. Get an expert coach or mentor
I've had a number of great coaches and mentors over my career. Some have been for different aspects of my business. Others for certain stages of my business or my own growth as a leader. A great coach or mentor has been where you want to go so they know what needs to happen to get you there. When I chose a coach to help me with leadership skills, it was someone who actually was a great leader. When I got coaching for public speaking, they didn't just teach — they were great public speakers themselves.
A great coach helps keep you focused, whether it's on the skillset you need to learn or what you need to do for the next stage of your business. And when you get off track, they can redirect you. A coach or mentor can give you honest insights into what you are doing that might be holding you back and other options that would serve you more. A good coach can help guide you through tough transition periods or big changes, so you keep your eye on the prize.
3. Take accountability
An important benefit of coaches, mentors and business support groups is accountability. Accountability means taking responsibility for your actions and being truthful about your results. You do what you'll say you'll do when you say you'll do it. And if not, you take responsibility for what you did and fix it. That's what builds trust between you and others, whether it's your shareholders and your investors or your spouse and kids. We all really want that trust, so you're motivated to do what you need to do.
As an entrepreneur, often the only one you're accountable to is yourself. It's your dreams and goals on the line. And it's much easier for most of us to let ourselves down rather than someone else. A coach or mastermind group can stand in for that "other." You're eager to keep their trust so you're automatically more motivated to follow through.
Nine out of 10 people fail to make changes even in life or death situations. With a great mastermind group and expert coaching/mentoring plus the accountability they offer, you can be in the 77% who make the changes you need to succeed.