We learn from all the adults around us at home, in school, in our first jobs. Our impressionable little minds are being molded like clay with the ideas we’re exposed to, and we just accept it all as truth. Why wouldn’t we? Adults are older and wiser, right?
All of the “truths” that we absorbed from our parents, who learned from their parents before that, were pretty much the exact opposite of what you need to be successful as an entrepreneur. Mom and Dad were only trying to prepare you for the world, and no doubt they did their best. But the fact is, the lessons they taught you most likely have left you ill-prepared for entrepreneurship.
Most of us grew up in the “employee” mentality. Wake up, go to work, go home, sleep. Rinse and repeat until you die. Yikes. How BLEAK is that? But that’s just what most of us were taught. And when you hear something often enough, it becomes your truth, for better or for worse.
In 2016, we are so freakin’ lucky to have the opportunities we have. It’s an AMAZING time to be an entrepreneur. We literally have the PLANET at our fingertips. So why do most entrepreneurs fail, even if they work really ridiculously hard?
I can’t speak for anybody but myself here, but I know the reason that my previous businesses didn’t work out. Because I had it all wrong between my ears. I was living under a few misguided beliefs, and it took a lot of work on myself to replace those beliefs with new truths that serve me better in my journey as an entrepreneur.
I had to pick apart everything I thought I knew about the world and re-examine it. WHY did I believe these things? Were they actually true, or had somebody in the world proved otherwise? Because one thing I DID know, was that if someone else did it, I can too.
So what were those things I had to unlearn? Here were the three biggest offenders...
I’m willing to bet that your first job probably wasn’t on salary. Your first job (and maybe every job you’ve ever had, as was the case with me!) was probably paid by the hour. So it’s really no wonder that we have this ingrained belief that if you want more money, you have to work more hours.
And when we DO earn money easily and freely (as is the case with passive income, for example), we feel guilty...like we need to give more and more of ourselves until we feel like we “deserve” the money. But I heard James Wedmore say on his podcast recently (although I think he was quoting somebody but he didn’t specify who) something that hit me like a brick in the face:
“IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MORE MONEY, SOLVE BIGGER PROBLEMS OR REACH MORE PEOPLE”.
Simple as that. You don’t need to work yourself to the bone in terms of physical effort or hours, you just need to solve bigger problems or reach more people.
Now, I’d be a big fat liar if I told you that I turned this belief around overnight, because it took some work, and I’m still working on it (it’s simple, but not easy). But I’ve definitely come to realize that the two don’t have to be linked. Not only is it possible to earn a 6-figure salary while working only a few hours a day, it’s okay.
We’ve all seen the motivational posters in classrooms since elementary school, telling us that it’s okay to fail, so why do we still see it as a 4-letter word? (well, you know what I mean.)
Because even though we’ve seen those messages and heard people say it, the vast majority of our experiences with failure were met with punishment. If you fail your test, you’re grounded. If you try something new at your job and it costs the company money, you get a warning (or possibly even fired). And so on and so on.
Not exactly nourishment for a budding entrepreneur, huh?
So what do we learn from that? We learn to fall in line, stop questioning authority, and to just do what we’re told so we can collect a paycheck and live an average life. But if you’re an entrepreneur, chances are, you’re looking for above-average. And once you decide to take on entrepreneurship, it’s a whole other beast. You just can’t run a successful business without failing. So how did I turn it around for myself?
To most people, that sounds horrible. It sounds humiliating, discouraging, and pretty much just sucky overall. But once I learned that each failure would bring me closer to success? Whoooooooo! I started practically LOOKING for it. I developed a thick skin, and a leap-first-look-later mentality.
When I launched my first online courses, they failed miserably. Not a single sale! And guess what? I survived. So instead of closing up shop and going back to my day job, I just started working on something else.
If I had been too afraid to put out that first course, I never would have figured out that it wasn’t my ideal niche, and I never would have changed directions and found my zone of genius. I would probably still be hemming and hawing over it, fiddling with re-recording the lessons or trying to get the PDF’s “just right”.
Was I HAPPY that my first efforts failed? Obviously not at first, but I said, “well THAT didn’t work”, and I kept looking for something that WOULD work.
When I first began as an entrepreneur, I was in a network marketing company where there were a LOT of reps in my area. So my immediate thought was, “how can I possibly succeed with so many of us? The market is too saturated.” I thought that in order to succeed and play in the big leagues, I’d have to be pushy, sleazy, or just plain mean.
But when I started to watch the most successful ones, I realized they were kind, giving, and genuinely happy for others’ successes. It was amazing (and kinda foreign) to me that they didn’t see others in their field as competition, but as “contacts” and “friends”.
What the hey? I thought you had to be like Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” to be a successful entrepreneur?
As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, I’ve learned that by lifting others up, and giving more than I take, I will always end up benefitting when I least expect it. Some of my best friends are other entrepreneurs I’ve never met in person, but talk to every day online. We share our best business practices, and hold nothing back. We chat in a mastermind call every week to help each other with our blind spots, and we support each other 110%.
I’m not saying you don’t have to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your niche―you don’t want to be working on dated info. But seeing other entrepreneurs in my niche as ALLIES rather than “competition” has helped me do a complete 180 in my business. Honestly, I don’t even know where I’d even BE without my biz friends (I can guarantee I wouldn’t be as far along as I am today).
I’ve come to believe that my journey as an entrepreneur has not just simply allowed me to quit my job―it has changed me to the core in every way imaginable. And yes, there are people who don’t “get” what I do. I’m sure you can relate. But if you’re open to it, I promise you, the best is still to come.