Step one: Honesty
While in my late twenties, I made a profound discovery. I had been to “Rock Bottom and Back™” as stated in the BIC Media Solutions book and DVD, and I progressed from “desperation to inspiration.” During my journey of recovery and discovery, I went through the famous 12-step program. It was at some point during that self-exploration and revelation period that I found one purpose of my life was to help others, but I was not proficient in helping people one-on-one. I was best at helping others by assisting their businesses to progress from startup to success. I was helping these business owners not only survive but thrive.
A successful business has a long-reaching cumulative effect. It is called the domino effect, a metaphor to describe the chain reaction brought about by an organization’s success or failure. When a business succeeds, it not only brings financial success for the business owners and key personnel, but also provides opportunities for everyone throughout the organization. When people are employed and paid for their efforts, their families, friends and communities benefit, and the local economy is strengthened.
With that in mind, I would like to share what I have learned during my time in business and through my association with other business owners.
I think an essential characteristic of successful people is honesty. I’m not talking about “cash register honesty.” I mean being honest with oneself.
Children will say they want to be a fireman, astronaut, movie star, musician or ballerina when they grow up. But they know little of what it takes to achieve success in any given field. Likewise, adults who dream of starting a business fail to be honest with themselves. It’s hard to start a bakery if you don’t know the first thing about making dough. You can hire a master baker, but you must also select a location, acquire financing, and know how to attract and retain your customers. You need contingency plans in case your baker becomes ill or leaves to work for a competitor. Most owners fail to plan or fully anticipate the amount of money, time, effort and skill it will take to succeed. They have not been honest with themselves.
Most businesses are cyclical in nature. There’s either more business than you can handle or not enough, or maybe now there are 10 competitors where there was once only one. Perhaps the bankers are knocking on the door and the employees are about to give up. What I usually see in a struggling business is one person’s dream swallowing it whole. That person is trying to control all of the outcomes and manage the business simply by using his or her own self-confidence or ego. The person is in denial about the future of the business and refuses to admit defeat.
After becoming honest with oneself and realizing the bleakness of the situation, the white flag must be raised in order to have a happy ending. Surrender is tough, especially for an entrepreneur who is taught to think positively. This part of step one is sometimes never realized due to an ingrained sense of self-confidence. I believe this to be the underlying cause of our own inflated egos. Many of us will follow the path right down to bankruptcy instead of admitting defeat. Although it may seem humiliating, it is necessary to admit our own powerlessness and take advantage of outside help.
Find a mentor
Find someone trustworthy or who has been successful in business to be your mentor. The unmanageability of the current situation must be shared. One must realize that a person who got into a bad situation probably cannot get out of it without some kind of outside help.
By being honest and realizing the true situation, one can begin the 12-step process. Setting your ego aside and accepting the humiliation of defeat are the hardest parts before asking for help from a mentor or outside source. All of these actions are counter-intuitive to the definition of an entrepreneur: self-reliant, decisive and confident. Throwing these notions away, if we can, will lead us to the success we really want.
For more information, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 506-7152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also published in BIC magazine.
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