The difference between successful and mediocre entrepreneurship is found in a few things, one of which is the mindset of a business owner. When we have the courage to examine ourselves and honestly point to the stuff that hinders our progress not only as businesspeople but human beings, we create space to change our ways, grow and thrive. Let’s look at three mindset issues frequently found in us entrepreneurs and how we can decrease their impact!
Reluctance To Capture Stuff In Words
When we choose to keep stuff in the head instead of outside of it, not only do we force ourselves to recall these repeatedly, but a reluctance to put stuff into words (on paper or a screen) can severely hinder productivity.
Like David Allen of Getting Things done says, (paraphrasing) our minds are for holding ideas rather than to-do lists. It’s also far easier to prioritise when your lists are in front of you rather than of quite equal importance as abstract floating things in your head.
Personally, as a parallel entrepreneur, the chaos that ensues, when lists are kept in my head only, is extraordinary. I lose track almost immediately and projects come to a halt. Plus using this as a literal personal business model if you will, renders hiring help impossible. How could I outsource tasks that are in my head alone?
Lists are a bit of a lose/lose situation for perfectionists though. If you write them, overwhelm lurks around the corner and if you don’t write them, panic develops due to fear of forgetting stuff. Solution: work on losing perfectionism instead.
Fear Of Failure And Its Companions
Fear of failure is more prevalent than your entrepreneurial colleagues may care to admit. Some of us never even start a business and others are so wrapped up in not making mistakes, too careful if you will, that no risk taking can happen whether at least a small/reasonable financial one or the selection of products we carry.
Or it’s information itself that we fear. Here at Wemla we’re feeling sad amidst this pandemic. More companies we care to count have closed and why? Sure, it’s hard for restaurants to stay afloat, but did you hear of the fine-dining award winner that turned into a sushi-making take-away place because of its head chef’s passion for this extracurricular activity? Or the taxi cabs that started driving healthcare personnel instead of “regular” customers?
It’s not our job to help you brainstorm, at least not right now, but I know there’s more to explore still before closing shop. Sometimes you ask your customers, other times your staff comes up with a brilliant pivot, and yet other times the final piece clicks thanks to that random piece you stumbled upon in social media. All the opportunities are out there if you choose to notice them.
So what information am I referring to above? How to do business.
Owning an enterprise doesn’t mean we magically wake up with the full set of skills downloaded over night on how to run and grow a successful endeavour. And it’s not stagnant either, but rules change (GDPR, import restrictions, permits needed, etc.), social-media platforms pop up (TikTok is still a big unknown to me) and technology changes stuff (will paper ads work anymore, alternatively be the pinch of magic added to a secret sauce?)—and it’s never-ending.
If there’s only one rule to business my take is: things change constantly. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” said Harry S. Truman.
Procrastination is a normal defence mechanism in perfectionists and the more we procrastinate by being busy instead of productive—doing the right thing instead of just something (irrelevant)—the worse we end up feeling.
A gentle way to start working on breaking these patterns is to use lists and a very kind way is by categorising tasks between “must do” and “nice to have”. Once we tell ourselves that a task is a nice-to-have it becomes easier to catch ourselves amidst procrastinating with that exact task. “Nice to have” acknowledges its relevance, but also reminds us in a not very brutal way that it may benefit us to pick something more important to get done.
Impostor syndrome is discussed ad nauseam, too, but for a very good reason. It’s still common particularly in people other than men to fight with self-esteem issues, self-appreciation, belief in one’s capabilities and stuff like that. And while it’s easy to talk about in theory, it’s not as simple to work on losing said syndrome.
However, when working on shedding this particular burden, it’s extremely important to recall that a healthy fear tied to not making financially stupid decisions is desirable still.
Focusing On Too Many Things At Once
It should be obvious but sometimes it’s ridiculously easy to get dragged into a weird circle of juggling too many projects at once. The result is progress on many fronts simultaneously, none of which is significant. And sometimes the only thing that matters is bringing a project to the finish line.
Aside from bringing in money to the business, on a personal level it’s proof of our capability to be and stay in business. Regardless of what life throws at us both within and outside of business, we will figure out a way to generate enough income that our basic needs are taken care of.
Because of our flexibility, we will thrive. Sometime it’ll take some stepping back, re-grouping and possibly involve a dramatic change of business model(s), but we will know it’s doable. We run the show, not the other way round: business strategy is control as far as it is possible and thereafter becomes flexibility.
We can’t take our companies past certain points without personal growth. Our business endeavours remain as successful as we believe ourselves capable of being. And a successful business owner knows they must be dynamic always, ready to face the new unknown. Pragmatic is better than panicked and panic eases with building our knowledge base as well as skill sets tied to them. Great practice requires solid knowledge of theory and there’s no work-around for this. Despite this burden, I’d still say it’s better to work for me than another though :)
Nobody said running a business is easy and in fact when you listen to others, the conclusion is usually “Harder than expected”, “I had no idea of what I was throwing myself into” or “I couldn’t do it alone, my team is everything!”
Entrepreneurship is hard mainly because there’s so much to learn and so little time to get all of it done.
This is why systems and workflows are crucial to define and implement, or how else would you explain the inner workings of your particular enterprise to a stranger? If you don’t know how to do stuff, how can you bring people onboard?
Hence priorities and lists and know-thyselves, because obviously you want to hire people to cover for your own weakest points. And yet if you only ever add people to the team, who think, act and look like you, will the strengths be emphasised but weaknesses ignored blatantly? The answers are found in personal development and growth, and part of both is the acceptance to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable from time to time.
Photo credit: Isaac Viglione