According to a study on small businesses, seven out of ten close down within a decade. Only half survive for five years.
Labor statistics show that the average American changes jobs twelve times. And they do it over the span of five to seven careers.
This data tells us what we already know: the business world is brutal.
Here are just a few things you will learn in this post:
- why long-term goal-setting doesn’t work and what to do instead
- the truth about “life hacks”
- why “value” is a myth
1. Mindset matters.
The way you think sets a tone for the life you live.
Mindset is a delicate topic for many. I speak from experience. I once believed my circumstances were dictated by the cards I was dealt instead of the choices I made.
Mindset plays a critical role in business success. Some people believe they can visualize their future into existence. Others think they have little control at all.
Regardless of what you believe, your self-image is crucial. Low self-esteem makes the ups and downs of business all that more difficult to manage.
You must have confidence and an iron will to be successful. Otherwise, self-doubt will derail you every time there is an obstacle to overcome.
For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of a sales presentation. Without warning, the prospect stops you and objects to your opinion. You soon realize they’ve done some research before the meeting and what they learned contradicts your position.
How will you respond?
You must have confidence in yourself and your ability or a situation like this will ruin your day—maybe even derail your career.
A confident person is capable of achieving great things. They deliver compelling sales presentations and inspiring speeches. They’re able to overcome buyer objections with ease and recover quickly from disappointment.
Confidence doesn’t make you invincible. You will have bad days, disappointments, and setbacks. But having a positive mindset will help you stay on track for success.
2. Aim for your version of success.
Success is subjective. Everyone has the right to decide what it means for them.
To you, success might be to build a seven-figure business. For me, it may be to become a well-known author. Neither is better than the other.
Set goals to achieve your version of business success. Of course, the amount of money you want to make is a primary goal. No one has the right to tell you otherwise.
Your picture of success may change over time. Something important to you five years ago may seem irrelevant now. Likewise, your priorities will probably shift again in the future.
Many people create lofty goals and hope everything will work out but don’t think much about today. Creating shorter-term goals to achieve a “big-picture” plan is a better approach.
For example, you may want to retire by the time you’re fifty-five. That is a big-picture plan. You can then set short-term goals with time frames of three to five years to help you reach the big-picture goal.
But making big, lofty goals that end up changing every few years sets you up for disappointment. After a while, you lose confidence that you will be able to accomplish anything significant.
You must also make some sacrifices to be successful. Unfortunately, while many of us know this to be true, we don’t always feel like doing what it takes.
Being honest about what we’re willing to do for success may be the most helpful way to determine what it means for you. You may discover that certain goals don’t matter to you as much as you thought.
3. Money is Something, but it isn’t everything.
Building a business that will impact the world is a great goal, but would you do it for free?
Profit is what separates a business from a charity. A business isn’t likely to keep the doors open unless they make money. Yet, people want the companies they buy from to care about more than making a profit.
Making money is essential. But business success must be based on more than generating revenue.
First, because people can sense your motives, at least most can. They may not say it, but they will avoid you at all costs if they think you care more about their money than you do about them.
Second, focusing only on money violates the Law of Sowing and Reaping. There is a reason many successful businesses give some profit back to society. You reap what you sow.
When you choose to give back, be sincere. Unfortunately, some businesses use charitable giving as a sales tactic. But in the end, people will see through it.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money, nor should you feel guilty about trying. But when it’s your only priority, life has a way of reminding you that there are more important things than finances.
4. Find what works for you and leverage it to win.
I’m a drummer. Though I also play the piano and guitar, the drums are much easier for me. I can sit down and play almost any rhythm just by hearing it. I might also learn to play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the piano, but I would need a few years of practice.
Drums are a natural fit for me, but the piano isn’t.
The same is true for business skills. Each one of us has unique business talents and abilities but at different levels.
Let’s say that between us, you’re the better public speaker. However, it may take months or years of practice before I reach your level of speaking skill.
Many of us end up disappointed and frustrated with “life hacks”. The diet that worked for my friend doesn’t work for me. Lisa’s videos get a lot of engagement on social media, but mine don’t.
You won’t always be able to duplicate someone else’s results with the same strategy or tactics. What works for them won’t always work for you.
There’s nothing wrong with learning from others. But be careful taking someone else’s path to business success. It may not always work as well for you as it did for them.
5. Learn the difference between determination and stupidity.
Let’s face it: when you’re in business, you will have more than your fair share of problems. Roadblocks appear out of nowhere, and sometimes it seems nothing you do works.
At the same time, we know that one key to business success is the ability to get back up after being knocked down.
If at first you don’t succeed…
So how do you know when to quit?
Learning how to answer that question comes with experience.
Years ago, I owned half of a business in another industry. My partner and I were good friends but didn’t have the same priorities. Eventually, I realized we would never agree on how to operate the business.
Yet after this revelation, I stayed in it for two more years. Why?
Because my ego wouldn’t let me quit, I was determined to make it work. Besides, I had no idea what I would do if I shut it down.
The situation didn’t improve. Only after my health started to suffer did I choose to move on. Many times, the right thing to do is often the most difficult choice.
If you’re struggling with the decision to quit or keep going, I’ll offer these tips:
- How much do you stand to gain? If your pride is all that is a stake, it may be time to let go.
- Are there better alternatives? Don’t settle for guesses—you need facts. Explore your options.
- Is it affecting others close to you? You aren’t the only one that suffers when you’re having a tough time. How much is it worth to stay?
- The loss of time and money isn’t limited to what you have invested so far. So could you make it up after a while by taking another path?
- You’re the only one who can decide when it’s time to quit. But once you choose, don’t look back.
6. Don’t cut corners.
At times, you may be tempted to cut costs, make big promises, or leave out a few details.
Don’t do it.
Too often, business people and companies resort to unethical or questionable tactics. As a result, they lose their customers’ trust because they sacrificed quality and integrity.
It takes a long time to build a reputation, but one mistake to destroy it.
Maintaining high quality and perceived value is a key to business success.
There is nothing wrong with looking for ways to reduce expenses. Sometimes it’s necessary, other times you have no choice. But consider what you will be giving up when you do.
It’s almost impossible to win back the customers you lose over poor quality or lack of integrity.
7. Do the things you hate doing until you can pay someone else to do them.
When I worked in Corporate America, my job required me to make cold calls. I did it five days a week for years and hated every minute of it. I never got used to people hanging up on me in mid-sentence.
But I learned a lot from that experience. It made me a better conversationalist and taught me to handle rejection.
Sometimes, things we don’t like doing end up becoming a key to business success.
If there is something you want to avoid, it could be for one or all these reasons:
- you’re not good at it
- it makes you feel “less than” when doing it
- you don’t think it’s worth doing
Of these, the last reason may be valid—maybe. But you can only know for sure when you have done it long enough to prove otherwise.
At a glance, the first two reasons appear to be similar, but they aren’t. There may be things you don’t mind doing but put them off because you aren’t good at them.
In these instances, you will have to learn how to do them or pay someone else to do them for you. I recommend learning them because it will be easier to supervise others when you hire them to take over the job.
Sometimes, we hate doing something because it makes us feel inadequate. It’s as though it is beneath us. In my case, cold calling made me feel terrible about my position in life. Even though I did for a long time, I felt like a loser every time someone hung up on me.
But doing the things we’d rather avoid can be a difference-maker. Most people won’t do them, which is why this one key to business success may separate us from the pack more than anything else.
8. Don’t get too comfortable.
You will never “arrive”. And you should never, ever fall asleep at the wheel.
Business, like life, is a journey. If you’re currently enjoying success, you can’t be sure it will last. Likewise, if you’re struggling today, circumstances can improve at any moment.
While it is unfortunate, we must always prepare for the day when life turns against us.
Achieving business success is a long, arduous climb. But reaching the peak is only the beginning. Sometimes, it takes more effort to stay on top than it does to get there.
Take time to celebrate and enjoy each victory, but never become complacent. Instead, keep looking for ways to improve and grow.
While you shouldn’t live scared, you must be aware of competitors. If others want to challenge you, it’s because they see you as a threat. When this happens, consider it a compliment and keep moving forward.
9. Always ask, “Why should anyone care?”
Telling people how good you are at what you do won’t convince them to buy.
First, people won’t always agree with your assessment. You may believe your business offers a great solution, but it will take more than your opinion to convince others.
If you want to be successful, you must make people care about what you do. But, unfortunately, making people care isn’t easy.
So, how do you do it?
Put yourself in their shoes and try to think like them. This exercise will take some practice. It isn’t a perfect system, but it works.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How do their problems make them feel?
- What are their frustrations?
- What do they want more than anything else?
- What their priorities?
- Where do they look for solutions?
These are only a few examples, but hopefully, you get the idea. Once you understand your customers, you can create more perceived value for your offer.
Speaking of value…
10. Ignore the “Value Myth”.
Some say you will get paid according to how much value you bring into the world.
But you don’t.
Did you know that first responders, such as police, fire, and rescue workers, make an average salary of $34,000?
These people save lives every day yet struggle to pay the bills. Many must work two jobs to cover expenses.
Value is one of the most misconstrued concepts in the business world.
You must offer value to sell a product or service. But why would anyone invest time and money to start a business that has no value? I wouldn’t and doubt you would.
Some industries enjoy more perceived value than others. For example, doctors never have to negotiate their prices.
Your business probably has a lot of value to offer. The challenge is to find the people who need it most. A cure for a disease is only valuable to those who need it.
The degree of perceived value you offer is crucial to success. The more of it people see in something, the more demand there will be for it.
If people don’t see the value you offer, it’s likely because you are:
- not communicating your value well enough,
- communicating it to the wrong people
11. Build your brand.
Branding is one of the essential keys to business success.
It will help your business get noticed, stay top-of-mind, and be more competitive.
The same is true if you’re an individual working for a company. Building a personal brand will have a positive impact on your career.
Here is how branding relates to the other keys to business success listed above:
1. Branding gives you more confidence in your ability to perform in the marketplace. For example, market analysis, positioning, and value-pricing build confidence and make you a fierce competitor.
2. Branding allows you to define your goals and provides a plan for achieving them.
3. Research shows purpose-driven brands succeed. A brand narrative tells customers your story—why you exist and how you help them.
4. You will leverage your strengths and capitalize on them.
5. A brand strategy serves as a compass for decision-making and facilitates wise use of resources. It will also help you determine what is working and what isn’t.
6. Branding builds affinity and trust.
7. Doing things you don’t enjoy will always be a key to business success. Branding maximizes the results when you do them.
8. A brand strategy will keep you competitive and innovative.
9. A brand will keep you customer-focused.
10. Branding helps create more value for your business and its products and services.
If you have a comment on this post email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
Learn more about brand strategy.
Are you struggling to connect with your audience? Do you want to show them how you're different from competitors?