“Discipline equals freedom.”
– Jocko Willink – Former Navy Seal Commander of operation Bruiser in Iraq
Fear sets in as anyone dabbling in entrepreneurship contemplates the magnitude of the task and the risks taken. Your stomach might also turn and your mouth become desert dry as you start facing the consequences of a dilemma that you have judged as impossible to manage or solve. An invisible object seems to press hard against your chest as you attempt to figure out how you are going to pay the bills with your cashflow under severe strain.
Symptoms of fear such as the aforementioned can test your resolve and assist you to reach a higher level of consciousness or it can numb you to a degree of total debilitation. Your choice, no one can overcome the fear for you.
Jocko Willink an ex-Navy Seal commander turned Business Leadership coach sites discipline as an antidote to fear. The more you practise even in situations when you do not want to and the harder you practise consistently the fear of failure diminishes in proportion to your conscious effort. I have not met Jocko Willink in person yet sincerely hope to. I am however a fan of his podcast and his books.
Besides being a decorated Navy Seal commander and respected task force leader in the much-publicised operation Bruiser in Iraq he is also reported to be a daily practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu an art that certainly requires a high level of discipline and humility, when a practitioner does not display a character of the aforementioned traits the art will teach it to him or her the hard way.
The reader simply has to listen to Jockos’ intense speech or watch a video on his Facebook page to realise what a lifelong practise of discipline can do to a man’s’ state of mind and what discipline can mould you into. Fearless Entrepreneurship is what we need in South Africa; fearless leadership is what we sorely miss in this potentially wonderful country of ours that is if we are as a collective truly serious about making this country great.
Fearless does not mean arrogant, it most certainly does not allude to ignorance, and above all it most certainly does not mean being totally self-absorbed.
Serve others, your friends, your family, your employees, and your customers through your fearlessness and through your brave action
Fearless in this context does not portray the superhuman ability of never experiencing the emotion or feelings around fear, it instead describes the cultivation of discipline to such a degree that you harness the experience of the senses as it confronts you with apprehension and turn it into brave action. There is no sense in denying that entrepreneurship is extremely hard work and not for everybody. Nobody told you that this was going to be easy, yet the journey of entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding and positively challenging.
Motivation and Willpower is an internal matter, no one can motivate you, you are the decision maker as an entrepreneur. The only thing that a mentor or coach can do for you is to assist in creating an environment wherein it is easier for you to motivate yourself. Motivation and Willpower is fickle however and something as small as a craving can overcome your level of motivation. Discipline is not fickle and when cultivated as a habit through repeated work and sacrifice a high level of discipline can overcome almost anything.
Turn the volume down on the excuses that you use to avoid being a “disciple of discipline”. The most popular ones that has most likely run through every entrepreneur’s mind, at least at some stage are:
- “I do not have the time.”
- “I am so busy.”
- “I am tired, let me hit that snooze button.”
- “That person de-motivated me.” (As if motivation was an external factor.)
- “I am not naturally gifted.”
“So, and so is just lucky, and I am not so lucky.” (When you witness the blood and tears and hours spent on honing their respective crafts you can find to your surprise that success can often appear to be luck, yet the truth more often than not is that successful entrepreneurs in general faced extreme hardships and had to work extremely hard before the appearance of luck occurred.)
“It is not my fault, it is … (fill in the blank) fault.” (The blame game has become an international sport with I believe more players than soccer, basketball, baseball, and American football combined.)
“Yes, but it is so hard.”
“I’ll leave it to the experts.” (And then you do not actually leave it to the experts you simply leave it undone.)
Continuously paint your excuses on the canvass of your mind and that will be your beliefs which in turn logically will affect your actions negatively. This is your choice and your responsibility as an entrepreneur just remember that you are the painter.
The above statements naturally lead to the follow up question of: “How do I reach a point of fearlessness if I already am in a lifelong spiral of apprehension, worry and concern?” I am confident that various answers exist to this question and with this writing I challenge the reader to diligently take on the effort of research and practise to find an answer that best works for her or him. Simply to offer help in the process I offer the following as a possible answer:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
– Mark Twain
Start small as to not overwhelm yourself with too much and sudden change. Begin with simple things to slowly start cultivating a more disciplined approach to business and to life:
- Have a morning ritual even if it is just a few minutes in the beginning to start the day in a positive frame of mind. You could start your day by reading a few pages of a book that challenges you to higher level of thinking. You could pray or meditate. Do some exercise. Experiment until you find a morning ritual that works for you.
- Make your bed. It can be the simplest things that when put together results in a more disciplined and better form of you.
- Cut out one bad thing at a time from your diet. Cut out bread this week. Next week maybe sugar.
- Start exercising even if you start with a five-minute walk.
- Start a journal. I call this “bleeding on paper”, and from personal experience I can honestly say that if I did not have the therapeutic device of regular writing at my disposal I most probably would have had a severe panic attack a day. The purpose of this journal is to give an honest account of your struggles fears and progress as you slowly advance on this journey of discipline.
- Follow those that you respect and learn from on Facebook, listen to their podcasts, read their books and or blogs. Never stop learning. Increase the time spent slowly but surely on this and eventually ensure that the average time spent on learning by far exceeds the time spent on watching TV. Act on what you learn and you might just be very surprised at the results.
“Accustom yourself to tireless activity.”
– Supreme Commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov.
Have a clear written statement of your purpose and your various goals that you often refer to. Fix your mind and actions on making your purpose a reality and steady yourself through disciplined practise and lessen fear, for failures will approach to test your resolve and discipline.
I root for and have South-African entrepreneurs close to my heart. I sincerely hope to see you on the other side where we all are in a state of fearlessness. Until then do the work, repeatedly and tirelessly.
What Is Limiting Your Entrepreneurial Mindset
This contribution contains six critical paradigms of thinking that should be avoided and used to constitute an empowered and creative entrepreneurial mind set.
“The mind that sees the limitation, is the limitation.”
– Siddartha Gautema
The Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plants’ voice echoed in my ears. Thereafter I listened to the late, and very unique Amy Winehouse. Their unique voices, personalities, and songs contains some ‘voodoo’, it reaches to the dark corners of your mind and then lifts your thoughts to limitless dreaming and thinking, or that is my experience at least.
Their creativity transcends boundaries set by rules of verse, song writing, culture, and geography. So entrepreneurial of them! True entrepreneurs do the same as the great Robert Plant and the mesmerising Amy Winehouse, they break through boundaries and limitations, make their own rules and find energy within the burning desire to succeed.
Like songwriters and other performers Entrepreneurs are creators and therefore must be very creative in their thinking especially when it comes to problem solving. Entrepreneurs must never limit themselves in terms of opportunities nor in their thinking, for it is their thinking that either recognises and creates or destroys opportunities.
On your journey as a limitless international entrepreneur there are thinking patterns or programmes that you should avoid and there are also ways of thinking that you should practise for:
“The mind that sees the limitation, is the limitation”
Break through your own limitations as an entrepreneur by changing your thinking and as a result the quality of your actions and results. Albeit hard, your thinking is something that you definitely have control over.
This writing contains three critical paradigms of thinking that should be avoided but also three essential elements of thinking that constitutes an empowered and creative entrepreneurial mind set:
Limited thinking paradigms:
1. A sense of entitlement
As long as you feel entitled to blame others for your limitations or lack of performance you will suffer and experience severe limitations within that sense of entitlement. This world owes you nothing. You owe all the best form of yourself instead. You are on an entrepreneurial journey to be the best you can be and freely give of yourself as an example to others, in order to create more strong and powerful entrepreneurs. In return you can receive limitless abundance that is if first, you have trained your mind to think within the limitless paradigm of abundance.
2. The “little me syndrome”
“The meaning of life is just to be alive.It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” – Alan W. Watts.
“I do not have the charisma of a Richard Branson nor the presence of a Tony Robbins.” “I do not come from money nor did I have the opportunities that others had.” “I do not have the talent of a Jeff Bezos nor the fiscal discipline of a Warren Buffet.”
Does that kind of thinking patterns sound familiar to you? If it does, stop it immediately for that thinking will confine you to the limitations of your “little me thinking”. Only Tony Robbins can be Tony Robbins and only the Dalai Lama can be the Dalai Lama. Nelson Mandela was as unique as can be, only to prove to you that you must be the best form of yourself as they were.
Believe in yourself. Back yourself. Overcome all obstacles. If not, who is going to believe in you and back you if you do not even believe in yourself? How do I build belief? By consistently taking action albeit small steps, by constantly learning and improving, by embracing useful change, and by being humble enough to sincerely ask for help within areas that you need it.
3. Believing your own excuses
Excuses often start with the words, “Yes but”, followed by what you think is a valid excuse for non-performance or for not doing something that you do not like. Excuses are so limiting! A precursor to limitless thinking is to remove excuses from your thinking and replace it with solution-driven thinking.
Solution driven thinking simply means that you do not ignore the challenge at hand but instead of dwelling on the bad feelings around the challenge you immediately start thinking on creative solutions to the problem. More importantly take immediate action even if it is by doing something small at first.
Limitless thinking paradigms:
1. Extreme ownership
Take full responsibility for your life and your entrepreneurial journey by firstly acknowledging that your life and your business is your full responsibility and nobody elses! Nobody is going to do it for you! Take extreme ownership that nothing will change unless you do.
Take extreme ownership of the fact that developing your skill set is your responsibility. Your decision to take immediate action on your vision and goals instead of procrastinating will serve you well. Thinking in terms of extreme ownership takes away the frustration of focussing on external factors such as a ‘bad economy’ and slowly but surely reveals your own limitless potential to you and is a catalyst for actualising your true potential.
2. Embracing change
A lot of ‘lip service’ is given to embracing change, yet very few people actually do embrace transformational change in a practical sense. A common reason for this is that change is uncomfortable especially in the beginning part of the journey as you move outside of the boundaries of your ‘comfortable comfort zone’. If you can sincerely answer yes to the following two questions and more importantly immediately take ‘massive action’ on the following two questions’ answers you will eventually find that, albeit uncomfortable at times, a purpose driven change journey is the most worthwhile experience you can imagine:
“When we apply the suggested changes will it serve our company in terms of growth?”
“Will we grow as people and be stronger and more successful for it when we apply the suggested changes?”
3. “Stratosphere thinking”
Remove all biases from your thinking and carefully consider all limitless options within any situation. Align your thinking to what will really serve your life purpose and what will not. Remove the self-imposed limits to your thinking such as “the little me” syndrome and your life experience will be limitless eventually. More importantly actualise your thinking by removing procrastination from your thought patterns and take immediate and confident action. Now!!!
7 Common Misconceptions Young People Have About Entrepreneurship
What people think entrepreneurship is often bears little resemblance to the grind the typical entrepreneur is living.
Google recently conducted a survey to see what young people think about popular brands. It turns out that brands with an entrepreneurial story behind them are considered the coolest.
Companies with cachet among the younger generations included Tesla, Facebook, Apple and Airbnb. Millennials and Gen Zers (the cohort younger than millennials) admire enterprising technologists like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs for their success inventing tech that has reshaped the world around us.
Though youth imbues a sense of possibility but inexperience blinds youth to the realities of entrepreneurship. Below are seven misconceptions young people have about entrepreneurship. Being aware of these will help budding entrepreneurs to establish more successful companies.
1. Education and tech entrepreneurship are incompatible
Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates all dropped out of school to start wildly successful tech companies. According to their legends, these visionaries didn’t need a degree in order to create multibillion-dollar businesses. In fact, some might say that their education was a hindrance to their entrepreneurial spirit.
But Jobs, Zuckerberg and Gates are exceptions. In most cases, aspiring entrepreneurs will benefit from lessons learned in the classroom. Readers should also note that these dropouts were stellar, dedicated students (inside and outside of the classroom) until they left academia. Zuckerberg and Gates were such good students that they were able to attend Harvard University.
Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs
2. Great products don’t need to be marketed
Some have a misconception that great products don’t need sophisticated marketing plans in order to catch on. Young people aren’t the only ones who embrace this misconception, but it seems particularly prevalent among young entrepreneurs, who tend to focus on products instead of marketing.
However, it’s important to recognse that “field of dreams marketing” is exactly that – a dream. If you build it, customers won’t automatically come. The market must be educated about new products, especially when they are disruptive.
Take the iPod as one example. The product itself had been done before. Sony had already produced MP3 players. But the iPod caught on because the product was particularly well executed, and because of a marketing strategy that captured people’s attention.
The slogan “1000 songs in your pocket” was a stroke of marketing genius that helped to propel Apple to new heights.
3. The most successful businesses are based on the best ideas
As entrepreneurs we often believe that the best businesses are based on the best ideas. But in reality, the best businesses are the ones that are able to successfully execute a good idea.
While these two notions are similar, they are not the same. Organisations based on a good idea have the ability to address a real pain point with an acceptable solution. Furthermore, they are able to deploy that solution efficiently.
Simply thinking of a great idea is invention, not entrepreneurship. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must learn the business skills required to bring an idea to market.
4. Smart employees don’t need to be managed
Some young entrepreneurs believe that successful businesses simply need to hire smart people, and the rest will work out somehow.
But even smart people need to be well managed. Take Google as an example. In 1998 Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Eric Schmidt to become the company’s CEO. Page and Brin realised that the organisation would need experienced leaders in order to succeed.
Schmidt ensured that Google had a solid layer of management in place to keep Google’s smart employees on track.
5. The customers don’t know what they need
In some instances, entrepreneurs have been able to start successful businesses by ignoring customer feedback. When Apple was developing the iPhone, most consumers would likely have asked for a smartphone with a better keyboard or a bigger screen. But few could have conceived of the revolutionary device Apple created.
However, while some entrepreneurs are able to develop a product or service that transforms consumer expectations, in most cases, listening to the customer is essential when developing a new business.
6. Success will come quickly or not at all
Young people look at entrepreneurs like Brian Chesky, who was 26 when he co-founded Airbnb, and assume that success will either come early in life, or not at all. But the reality is, success often takes time to materialise.
As mentioned earlier, thinking of a great idea is just the first step in creating a successful business. Execution of that idea is often the most important component of success. But learning important business skills requires years of experience, which is why success often takes longer than expected.
7. Older people aren’t innovative
It’s a misconception as old as time: older people aren’t innovative. The reality is that every successful business relies on a combination of innovation and experience to succeed. In order for your business to move from a great idea to great execution, it will require all sorts of skills, and some of them can only be acquired with time.
Young entrepreneurs often look to a handful of hugely successful companies as evidence that entrepreneurship should take a certain form. In reality, entrepreneurship is more amorphous. Once young people set aside misconceptions about what it takes to launch a successful business, they will be more likely to develop a business that performs well.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Are You Building A Business Or Creating A Job For Yourself?
Is it just you behind a desk or are you delegating the work? The distinction is an important one.
We recently spoke with a member of our co-working space who owns a PR/marketing company and is the only employee of his company. His firm is successful and has been in business for more than three years since he left a large organisation where he was the head of PR.
Our conversation got around to the issue of extra help. When he needs additional skills to fulfill assignments, this man told us, he contracts with other professionals. That was interesting, we thought. Because, although our PR friend is talented and able to support his growing family, his comment about contracting out work raised a question for us.
“Was he trying to build a company or create a job for himself?” we wanted to know. It was a question that struck a chord with this man – one that he later came back to discuss.
In that context, we want to state that we think that we consider either choice a valid one, but one that should be a specific choice, nonethless. We work with and mentor dozens of small start-ups. And many start as single-person firms completing short assignments for a variety of other small or midsized companies.
There are more than 28 million small business in the United States. Of these, single-person companies are in the majority, representing three-quarters of all small businesses. These individuals, whether they planned it or not, have created a job for themselves. They will not hire employees or scale their businesses. Of course, this need not be negative.
Done right, a one-person business can actually make good money. It can give the owner the flexibility to choose assignments that are interesting and fulfilling, and to enjoy the flexibility of working when and where he or she chooses.
The “micro-business” category
A person working alone, or essentially alone, is a business category we call a “microbusiness.” The defining characteristic of a micro business is that the owner or principal is doing the primary work of the business, whether that means providing PR services or baking cookies. He or she may have helpers in the form of other freelancers, vendors or assistants, but the preponderance of the revenue comes directly from the work of this principal.
The key to the success of a micro business is how well the principal does its primary work, which includes selling. We find that the biggest challenge in a micro business is finding a steady stream of work. By the way, our consulting practice is a successful micro business. We have one paid full-time employee, our marketing assistant, but we do the primary work of our business – consulting.
The small business structure
Many people who own micro-businesses choose to stay at this size. However, if you want to build a business, you will need to grow, at least to what we call a small business structure, where the primary work is delegated to others. The owner might keep his or her hand in it, but others do the preponderance of the work. At this point, how well the principal does the primary work of the business is not nearly as important as it was when the enterprise was a micro business.
Personally, we found it difficult to transition to a small business structure in our consulting business for a couple of reasons. First, when people hire Doug and Polly to consult to their small business, they want Doug and Polly, not an associate. Second, we are limited in the amount we can charge to the very small businesses we serve. The fees we charge are not high enough to pay talent at the level we would want and still provide a sufficient markup for our firm. Therefore, Whitestone Partners has stayed a micro business.
It’s important to note that the role of the entrepreneur changes dramatically as a business moves from micro to small. In fact, at the point of transition, the principal has to let go of doing the very thing that made the company successful at the prior step. In a micro business, the business lives or dies based on how well the owner performs the primary work of the business. This makes sense. You have created a job, and you keep it or lose it based on how well you do the work.
But, if you choose to grow to a small business structure, success depends on how well the principal hires and manages workers. If you are the principal, your role will change. If you want to bake cakes, stay a micro business. If you want to run a bakery, you need to build a business. This is a scary step and one that can cause the principal sleepless nights.
Many people we mentor balk at this transition when they realise they will be responsible for the livelihood of others. However, to grow a business, yourself,, eventually, you will need to hire and manage employees.
Next . . . the midsize business
If you’re successful at the small business stage and choose to continue to grow, you will become a midsize business. The business has transitioned from small to midsize when at least one layer of management has been inserted between the principal and those doing the primary work. The principal has gone from managing workers to managing managers. This might sound like a small change. It is not.
To effectively utilise managers, the principal must delegate decision-making authority to them. This means giving up a measure of control, which is often difficult for entrepreneurs who are used to making every significant decision in the company.
This also is the transition with which growing companies most often struggle. Letting go of some control is a scary thing for entrepreneurs, and they are right to feel trepidation. Ineffective delegation can lead to the ruin of the business – we’ve seen it too often. To enable effective delegation, the principal will need to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place. This means making certain that the business has the right managers, that processes are well-documented and that appropriate metrics are in place.
Meanwhile, if you want to create a life that has flexibility and autonomy and allows you to work when and where you like, you should probably choose to stay a micro business. As we like to say, you can create a great job for yourself. If you want to build something more, you will need to move to a small business structure. You will know that you have transitioned from micro to small when you have delegated most of the primary work of the business to others.
To truly scale a business, you will need to transition to midsize or larger. You will have done this once you’ve delegated day-to-day decision-making authority to a layer of managers that is between you and those doing the primary work of the businesses.
Each choice is valid and comes with its own challenges. However, we believe that it should be a conscious and specific choice. If you are unsure which direction to take, find an experienced consultant or mentor with whom to explore your options, skill sets, and desires. Then move forward with purpose in the direction that works for you.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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