If you've ever started a business or been part of one, you've been through the "honeymoon" period. This is the period where you are in love with your idea and its potential. It's where you see it coming together and gaining traction, maybe even getting your first customers. Oh, the excitement, the anticipation, the "we're going to own the market with this thing" visions in your head; they are all real and part of what makes being an entrepreneur so much fun.
But, what happens when that period is over? Recently, I was talking with a young entrepreneur who started a niche business less than 6 months ago. They conceived of the product, created it, found and setup a distribution facility and system, got it to the first page on Amazon for their category, did a great job marketing, established an initial following, already have repeat customers, and have positive cash flow coming in every month. But, they said that they had lost some of their passion for it and were now going to start another business.
What? This is a classic example of the honeymoon period ending...and when the real work should begin.
As I asked this young entrepreneur more questions about why they wanted to jump from what is a budding successful business already; they gave me some reasons. But once I dug deeper, it came down to a couple of things. First, they had gotten a few bad reviews and they took it personally. Second, their product is an all natural product and some customers didn't find it worked for them. When I asked what the ratio was of people who liked it to who didn't, it was infinitely small.
So, here was an entrepreneur about to kill a business they worked so hard on, with a proven market and positive cash flow, so they could move on to the "next big idea."
Here's the dirty secret that I told them and I'll share with you. Big ideas are a dime a dozen. There is no shortage of them. What makes an idea big and successful is execution, period.
A lot of entrepreneurs fall into a trap of jumping into one business after another once the honeymoon period is over and never take the next step to truly execute and maximize the potential of the business. This is why 99% of businesses never reach $1 million in annual revenues. They are never given a chance!
Big ideas are a dime a dozen. There is no shortage of them. What makes an idea big and successful is execution, period.
The entrepreneur and I talked a little further and discussed some ideas on what they could be doing now to take the business to the next level.
I'll share some of the overarching ones here so you can make sure you don't fall into the same trap...
Treat Your Startup Like A Newborn Baby
Parents will do anything for their children and we can learn from this example when it comes to a startup or business. The example I gave the entrepreneur is if they had a child and the child had an issue or was born with one; they would go to the ends of the earth to either fix it or make the situation the best it can be. It's the same with your start-up or business, it will never be perfect. There will always be something that can make it better. But, are you treating it like you would your child? Have you exhausted every last possibility or avenue to make it successful? Have you executed on everything you know you can and should be doing? For most, the answer is "no" and that is where you need to start.
In the case of this entrepreneur, they were letting a few bad reviews overshadow the good that their product was doing and all the happy customers. All they needed to do is work on a couple things and they can better the product (they stated they are already knew what they needed to do). Once this is done, they can go back to all of the clients that bought and didn't feel the product worked or didn't like it and give them a free sample of the new version and ask for their thoughts. Inevitably, the customers will like the new version and become fans again. Imagine taking someone who didn't like your product and turning them into a fan and a customer. That is marketing gold!!
When You Get Uncomfortable, Double Down
Another thing that came out of the conversation was that this entrepreneur was doubting their abilities. They weren't sure they had the ability to take the business to the next level. They were self-sabotaging because they had gotten uncomfortable.
This is a very real, and common, scenario with entrepreneurs. When people get uncomfortable, they revert back to what they know or what makes them comfortable. In this entrepreneur's case, they had gone through the process of starting the business, so they were comfortable doing that. But they had never run a business or had to keep it going once off the ground, which made them question themselves and revert back to what they knew - starting a business. This is why they wanted to move on and start something else - because it's what they know how to do and it would give that feeling of excitement again.
The mind is incredibly powerful, especially the subconscious, and it can run you without you even knowing it. In this case, their subconscious was keeping them in their comfort zone and not letting them break free to the next level.
When you find yourself in a place like this in your startup or business, double down on everything. Double down on your work, your sales, your marketing, everything. You are just about to break through a major barrier and grow yourself and your business to another level. It iss not easy at this stage and it is not flashy...it's work and it pays off big time.
Commit and Persevere
You've heard this a hundred times, but after reading above, maybe it has given a better perspective - you have to commit. You have to truly commit yourself to your "baby." You can't quit at the first sign of adversity. You can't give up when you have a setback (or the many that you will have on your entrepreneurial journey). You have to persevere through it and keep getting up and going at it hard every day. Most people never truly commit to things. The minute they get in and something goes wrong, they are looking for the way out.
It takes a lot to stay in and take the beating of the journey every day, especially in the beginning or during tough times. But, if you can persevere through those issues and setbacks, and commit to exhausting every avenue and potential opportunity; you'll succeed. It doesn't matter how good your idea is, you'll succeed because you executed and didn't stop where most others do.
What will happen with this entrepreneur? Time will tell, but if they re-commit to their startup, they will certainly be able to overcome these challenges both in the business and in their head. And when they do, they will find their business at levels they may not have ever imagined.
It's Thanksgiving week in the U.S. and it reminds us of all that we are blessed with in life. From family to our friends, to the opportunities we get; there is a lot for us to be thankful for.
I am thankful to all of you who follow this show and read this blog. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your support.
With that in mind, here are the Top 10 quotes that we're most thankful for and that I use to give me strength, motivation, and inspiration throughout the year (and one awesome video too!).
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect - Mark Twain
You have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play better than everyone else - Albert Einstein
This video is one of the best motivational ones I've seen in a long time. Pay close attention to the messages delivered in it. You may even recognize a quote or two from above!
I wish all of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving and start to the holiday season!
In my early 20’s, I was told something by a very successful mentor that has always resonated with me and stayed in my mind since, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” When I was told this, my first reaction was one of confusion, but quickly I responded, “Well, teach me what I don’t know then!”
From that point forward, I started asking myself when it came to almost everything, “What is it that I don’t know here…and how do I find out? What should I know?” This has served me, and others that learned from the same mentor, very well over the years. For me, it kicked off a 5 year journey where I spent just about every extra moment, evenings, weekends, etc. seeking out and learning what I did not know on different topics. This led me to be able spend time, work with, and learn from some of the greatest mentors and business minds of our time. People like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, top entrepreneurs, marketing gurus, and a billionaire among others.
In working with these people and observing them, I began to see some uniquely different habits that they possessed and used in their lives.
Of course, they had all the things you have read about before…they were focused, dialed in, had honed their mindset, planned things for success, knew how to build a true business, etc. But, it was the more odd habits that stood out to me. The ones, that in addition to the others made them,....well, them.
Here are 3 Habits of extraordinarily successful people:
They Practice “Ready, Fire, Aim”
As much as these people were dialed in and had everything planned for success from start to finish, they possessed an element of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” They do not get mired too far into the details and they know that no matter what they do, the first release of anything; be it a book, product/service, business, etc. will not be perfect and need to be fine-tuned over time. They love “Ready, Fire, Aim” and embrace it. They get things to where they are pretty good and then go. They learn and course-correct from the first adopters’ feedback and from a process of continuous improvement.
We all could do well to learn from this as many times, we have a great idea for something and fear doing it because “it’s not perfect.” Here’s the thing – It never will be! No matter what, you can always find ways to improve things. So, don’t get stuck in the paralysis of perfection, go out and “Ready, Fire, Aim,” and then get better from there. You will probably fail, but the failure just helps you make things better. The mere act of moving from idea to action is an accomplishment.
They Develop a “Quick Wit”
One of the habits that was and is most interesting to me, and that I’ve really embraced, is cultivating a “quick wit.” Some people are born witty and are naturally quick on the uptake, others aren’t. But one of the things that extraordinary successful people realize is that they need to be able to understand and decipher things quickly – and that the response they have in situations can make a huge difference in their success.
For example, the ability to read a room quickly, understand the personality types, decipher who is uncomfortable with your presence, and make the right joke or comment to put them at ease is a great skill, especially in sales.
I recently sat in a room of 15 people, at a Fortune 100, discussing a potential business partnership. These people were from all different backgrounds and from all of the world, US, UK, China, etc. They all came to the meeting with their own pre-conceived notions and thoughts about our team and the potential partnership. As I scanned the room, I could quickly tell who were the more outgoing people that were excited vs. those that were more reserved, skeptical, and maybe a little apprehensive. So, what did we do? Instead of getting right into business, we started the meeting by getting this “elephant” out of the way. We asked them to share their initial thoughts coming into the meeting and to tell us what was most important to them, and we made a few quick witted jokes around this to put them at ease. Only when everyone was smiling and comfortable in the room, did we proceed to get into details and begin the negotiations. And it made a huge difference! By the time we were done with our almost 4 hour meeting, some of the biggest champions were those that were more apprehensive in the beginning.
Developing your own version of “quick wit” will serve you very well and allow you to diffuse uncomfortable situations. It will also make you more likable, help you to become a thought leader, and a great resource for others.
One of the easiest ways to start on this? Stay in tune with current events. It’s amazing, even in today’s 24/7 news and information environment, how little people stay up on current events. Set up some Google alerts and news feeds for pertinent topics in your business and life, and keep up with what’s going on. You never know when a little tidbit will serve you well in conversation.
They Stay True to Themselves and Are Willing to Go it Alone
Extraordinarily successful people create their own internal compass to guide them. They create their own rules for their life, values, and disciplines, and they stay true to them. Where some people will change themselves or their values to appeal to those they are with or trying to get something from (think politicians); the extraordinarily successful don’t. They are who they are and they stay true to their compass. This can be tough for those that have to work with them. When there are times that those surrounding them see an opportunity or situation where “If they just compromised on this value or personal rule a little bit, it would make such a difference,” and they don’t, it can be frustrating. Now, there is a difference between being pig-headed and compromising your values for some sort of gain, but the extraordinarily successful inherently understand this difference and use their “quick wit” to help them make these decisions.
The point is that these people march to their own tune that they have put in place for themselves and stay true to it, where most others aren’t strong enough to do that in life. That is something to be respected and emulated, and something that you can do as well. For an example of some personal rules for life, check out this post on “How I’m Taking Myself to the Next Level and You Can Too!”
Everyone has something that they do or they are capable of that makes them extraordinary. The trick is to not only figure it out, but truly learn “what you don’t know” to make yourself a master of it. Be inquisitive throughout your life and ask yourself “What is it I don’t know? Where do I go to learn?” and then go figure it out. You’ll be amazed at how extraordinary you can be!
Here I am on the eve of the election doing what I never said I'd do (wade into the political arena), but enough of our audience has asked me for my take on the US election, which is crazy and flattering that you would even care what I think; but you asked, so here goes.
This is not going to be the article you think it is, with me analyzing candidates or talking one way or the other, but it is a real, serious look at ourselves.
Elections are one of the most emotional experiences of people's live. Logic is rarely used when it comes to political parties, candidates, certain issues, and the overall general process. There is nothing wrong with this; it is just the reality of it. I prefer to stay logical.
The other reality is that no candidate is a savior and they probably won't do, or be able to get passed, 80% of what they promise to do in their campaign. As entrepreneurs, we learn one thing really fast - we can't wait for others to do things for us. We must act, hustle, make our own luck, and make things happen. While others are worrying about what a candidate might or might not do, we are heads down figuring out how to overcome our challenges and further our businesses.
It's true that the leadership of a country can make it easier or harder for entrepreneurs to do business, but it doesn't matter, because we will succeed in spite of anything thrown in our way and will innovate where we have to, to survive and thrive.
So, the first point I want to make is, "Rely on yourself, you partners, and your team, not some political candidate."
The second, and more important point I want to make is that the real election is in your mind - every day. Each day you have to get up and choose your path, choose what you will focus on, and choose to persevere and thrive. The game is real, and all of us fortunate entrepreneurs get to play it every day. Some days are very hard, draining, and drive us close to quitting, but we know the next breakthrough comes in those times.
Successful entrepreneurs embrace the game, love the challenges and struggles it brings, and are obsessed with making our vision a reality. We don't have the luxury of promising things we know we could never provide or deliver on because we would find ourselves out of business. We have to deliver and find a way, no matter what obstacles stand in our way. And if we truly can't, we make it up; we work harder, push further, learn from our mistakes, and don't let it happen again.
It is this election, in our mind, every day, where we choose to be an entrepreneur and embrace everything that comes with it - the bad and the unbelievably fulfilling, awesome good - that makes us who we are. So ultimately, we don't need a political party or candidate. All we need is the power that lies within us and the will to act.
Make no mistake, elections have consequences. But if your candidate doesn't win, it is not the end of entire world as all of them would have you believe. The sun will rise tomorrow, after you've already been up and hustling for a few hours, and you'll get the honor of playing the game another day. Elect that.
"I've tried everything! Why can't I get them the work together and perform at the levels I know they are capable of," I said to my then VP. His answer? "It's not that they are not capable, but you need to have the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things if you want it to change."
That sounded like such a cliche, executive answer and really gave me nothing to go on. I was in my early 20's and had recently been put in charge of an under-performing, but truly talented team So, I asked for more and his response was, "You need to figure this out for yourself because when you do, you'll be a great leader." He then added..."Start with getting to know your people intimately."
What the hell did that mean?
For those that have been in the position of starting a company or are in a leadership role; this situation can be all too familiar. How do you maximize the talents and abilities of the people around you? More importantly, how do you get them excited about it so that they want to participate?
It starts with creating the right environment (for more on this, read this post on The Four Pillars of Leadership), but as my VP stated to me above, and that I didn't fully understand at the time, you have to have the "right people, in the right roles, doing the right things."
But I did eventually figure it out...the Right People, the Right Roles, the Right Things. It was actually there in front of me the whole time and I had learned it before. It is probably is right in front of you.
It all comes down to understanding personalities.
A Bunch of Animals
Most everyone has done a personality test of some sort in their life. The most famous and most widely used is DISC. And frankly, I think it is the best and most accurate. The DISC test will tell you what personality type you are at work, at home, and also show you your dominant one and secondary, etc. And for most, when they take it, it nails them exactly.
I first took DISC when I was in college and it opened my eyes to who I really was and made me understand the different personality types, which are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Contentiousness.
Yes, I know trying to remember those is intolerable, so years ago, I changed it up to animals because it gives a visual picture and allows you to associate it easily to people . I use Lion for Dominance, Otter for Influence, Golden Retriever for Steadiness, and Owl for Contentiousness.
Let's run through them:
The Lion: Lions are the take charge type, they're results oriented, short on details, and want to take action and get stuff done. They are highly focused on outcomes and sometimes come off as arrogant or not caring when they really are just honed in on an making something happen.
The Otter: Otters are the fun, enthusiastic, life of the party people. They're always happy and bubbly, and are great cheerleaders. They do have trouble taking criticism or dealing with knowing someone does not like them because "they want to be liked."
The Golden Retriever: Golden retrievers are loyal, understanding, by your side. The are supportive and love to collaborate and do well in a more stable setting. They can have trouble with confrontation.
The Owl: Owls are very detail oriented, definitive, and studious. They are very thorough and sometimes prone to over-analysis. Risk can be hard for them.
Who are some Lions, Otters, Golden Retrievers, and Owls in your life? Can you guess what types your employees or co-workers are?
How Does this Relate to Building a High Performing Culture?
What's the point of me telling you this? Its simple, the reason I was failing in my assignment was that I did NOT have the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things. And it wasn't their fault. I had Lions working with other Lions and Otters working with Owls and did not have them in roles that fit their personalities and did not allow them to maximize their success.
If you think about it, an Owl who is very thorough, detail driven is going to have trouble working with an Otter who is short on detail and wants to have fun and excitement all the time. Conversely, a Lion can absolutely run a Golden Retriever ragged and dominate decisions over them.
So, when you build a team, you have to think about the right people (personalities) for the roles that you are fulfilling and then make sure you have them doing the right things in working together.
For example, Golden Retrievers are great for service and client facing roles as they are understanding, considerate, always there and dependable, etc. On the other hand, you would not want to put a Lion in that role. They would be frustrated in hours. You want Lions running projects or anything with a goal or deadline they need to achieve. Owls are great for keeping tabs on things such as your accounting or operations. And Otters can make great sales people (if you can keep them focused!).
Once I realized this, I realigned my team and things started to fall into place. People worked more easily together, were more productive, and the performance improved greatly.
You Can Do It Too - Here are Some Tools
How do you put this to work for your business or organization? Simple, first take inventory and get to "intimately" know your people. Have them take a DISC test (in fact, have anyone in the interview process do so as well). The good news is that the test has been around for so long, there are tons of free ones online that you can use like this one.
Second, you can then look at the results and see if you need to realign people with roles that they are more suited for, or put them into teams where they will be more productive working with others. For example don't put all your Lions on one team (unless you want the fireworks).
Lastly, do some more research to understand DISC and take the test yourself to see where your weaknesses lie so you can hire for them. Here is a great one pager that I have used for years to help me understand the different types. It goes over the effective/ineffective traits of the each personality type, their interests in work, goals, fears, etc.
It's time to get to know your people intimately. Getting the "right people, in the right roles, doing the right things" will make a major difference in the success of your business or organization. You'll be amazed at how quickly it can happen...and how much it will help you in your hiring.
Drop me a note and let me know if this post was helpful, and just for fun, tell me which "animal" or "animals" that embody your personality.
Here's to your success!