What does it really take to be successful in business?
Being willing to focus on one problem, one solution, one audience for long enough to actually see results requires you to be decisive and confident in that decision.
I believe you have absolutely every bit of control over whether your business succeeds or fails, because you have control over the skills you chose to master.
You will walk away from this episode ready to create your offering with focus and set goals that are in line with who you are as an entrepreneur.
- Discover who you are and what it is you are working towards.
- How to make your business like an experiment and why that will help you succeed in the long run.
- Build time into your schedule for passion project time.
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“Entrepreneurship is hard. “
“The hustle is mandatory.”
” If it was easy, everyone would do it. “
We have all heard these adages for “what it takes” to be a successful entrepreneur and CEO of your own company. And the statistics have been thrown around as scare tactics as well. I’ve heard all sorts of scary numbers but here is the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Fundera:
20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year.
By the end of the second year, 30 percent of businesses will have failed.
By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed.
And by the end of the decade, only 30 percent of businesses will remain — a 70 percent failure rate.
Now, the reason that I say these are scare tactics is that entrepreneurs – both aspiring and established – look at that like a game of Russian roulette, wondering if they will be one of the lucky few that actually make a real go of it or not. We look at those statistics as a quota that the Small Business Gods have to maintain or something.
But here is the truth. Those statistics are not a pre-requisite, they are a symptom.
It is a symptom of an oversimplification AND overcomplication about what it takes to truly be successful in business as your own boss.
It is an overcomplication in that really all you need to be successful in business is a solution that people are willing to pay for and a way to connect with those people. You don’t need a big fancy office, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in seed money, or even a website.
The oversimplification piece comes in when we start to talk about the skills and routines necessary for being a successful CEO. While I do believe that anyone is capable of becoming a successful CEO, it is because of their willingness to build, practice, and master a few skills that prevent them from failing aka giving up.
So what do you need to be a successful CEO?
You need to be decisive and confident.
You need to know your numbers.
You need to be very self-aware.
You need to have the willingness and drive to always be learning.
You need to treat business as an experiment.
You need an intentionally-curated success circle.
You need to take action.
You need the right mindset.
Now, you may have noticed that everything on the list of things your do need all have something in common:
Every. single. one. of. them. is something you can cultivate. Which is why I say that anyone can be a successful CEO.
Yup, you have control over every aspect of those things.
Now, I’m not trying to oversimplify what it takes to build a business that makes it.
But I do know that these are the non-negotiables.
So you may be asking yourself right about now, what does any of this have to do with focus?
Well, that plays into what it takes to be a successful CEO. Being willing to focus on one problem, one solution, one audience, for long enough to actually see results requires you to be decisive and confident in that decision.
Many self-identified creatives in this space have a hard time focusing on just one thing because they have so many ideas and they don’t know how to choose. Or as a newer entrepreneur, you launch something and it falls flat, so you go create something else, and then something else, and then something else. But that isn’t the most effective use of your limited resources nor is it going to give you the opportunity to make the biggest impact.
When you put your focus in one project at a time, one offer at a time a few things happen:
You stop recreating the wheel over and over again. You might still tweak, optimize, and update and offering but at it’s core, it is the same. That means you can spend those limited resources spreading the word about the amazing solution to the problem your audience has.
Speaking of your audience, when you focus on just one thing in your business, they are able to really hear about the thing enough to really understand you, your brand, and how you can help them. And that is what they need to be able to put their money down for a solution.
So, you get it. You are on board. But there is still that little voice in the back of your head that says how do you focus without getting bored. Because that is a very real thing.
So, I am going to share a few tips to help you as you are building this ability to focus.
How do you not get bored?
- Start out with something that actually matters to you. Align your every day actions with where you are and where you wanna go. You have to know what it is that you are working to. You have to know the vision you have for yourself. A clearly defined vision that you are working toward. This is why it is so important for you to build a business that you love and design rather than waiting for someone else to tell you what to build or how to build it.
- Enjoy the process of what it means to put your focus there every day. Continued work on one thing has to be something that you LOVE, not just loving the end result. So that means, especially in business, are you showing up and utilizing strategies that feel good for you and are effective. We feel most fulfilled when we feel like we are overcoming challenges and growing. So it’s not enough to just follow someone else’s success plan on how to build your business. You have to know yourself well enough to stack the deck in your favor and make working towards your goals as something you actively reach for, not something that you have to convince yourself to do every day.
- Track your progress & pivot when you need to. Treat your business and especially your focus experiment as an experiment. The goal here is to get really, crazy good at connecting with your audience and solving their problem with your focus offer. Which means your messaging is on point, your engagement & relationship building is a 10/10. You offer is incredible. Not good, not great. Freakin’ amazing. You’ll never get bored because your work is never finished. Experimentation is cyclical. You try something, it works or doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, you keep going. If it works, perfect. You move onto the next aspect. And this doesn’t have to be massive changes. It can be 1% or 2% improvements. Incremental changes over time lead to massive results.
- Keep an idea journal. You are an entrepreneur and chances are, you likely have lots of ideas and that is one of the reasons it can be difficult staying focused on just one. You need to create a system for capturing and prioritizing what’s next. By keeping an idea journal, you allow yourself to capture the ideas that you are excited about in the moment without diving headfirst into them and potentially derailing any meaningful progress that you’ve made. That way if it is really a good idea to consider taking inspired action on, it’ll be something you can’t forget or let go of, even amongst all that work and focus on the other project.
- Build in passion project time to your weekly schedule. Give yourself 2 hours or so of free space to dive deeper into some of your other ideas. By doing so you scratch the itch of needing to work on something, the novelty seeking, the not wanting to lose the creative motivation, without derailing the plan you are already working on.
- Be unavailable to be bored. As I just listed, you have plenty to keep you busy and to prevent you from getting bored. Shift your mindset about what being able to focus means. It doesn’t mean doing the same thing day in and day out. It means going all in on yourself and what you know is the best use of your time. So don’t focus on what you are missing out on, focus on what you are gaining. You are unavailable for boredom.
I always like to end each episode with an action step that you can take right now to help you move forward and begin to implement immediately. Here is your action step for this episode: Decide what your focus is for the next 3 months. Go all in on the one thing — What project are you committed to focusing on, what goal are you determined to achieve? Write it down on a post-it and put it where you’ll see it every day.