I have often said that entrepreneurship is like being the captain of a ship that is bound for an unseen harbor. The captain chooses the journey, willing to risk the dangers that he knows lie ahead because he loves the journey. This has to do with goal-setting. First, you need to know what you want before you start out to achieve it. If you don’t set solid and specific goals, how will you know when you get there?
The entrepreneur sets solid goals, along with a timeline to achieve them. Then he sets out to sea with his ship and a dream. At times, he wonders why he’s out there in the open sea, fighting off tidal waves and sharks, all for a one-shot chance at the distant harbor. But he believes in himself and his dream, and he’s made up his mind to stay the course.
Still, when the seas get rough and the risk increases, it’s hard to know what keeps you going. Do you ever feel this way? Does the fear of what lies ahead make you wonder if it’s all worth it? I don’t know many business owners who haven’t felt the doubts creeping up on them once in awhile. But, to stay “in the boat,” you have to have some strategies to cope with the rough times so that you can reach your goals.
In this post, we will look at some ways that you can keep going even when the going gets tough.
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going
In Peter Voogd’s book, 6 Months to 6 Figures, he talks about how the tough entrepreneur must set his mind to success even when he doesn’t feel like it. Some of the tips he offers in this inspiring book include:
- The market doesn’t care how you feel.– This statement makes a lot of sense. Entrepreneurs who have their own business may have a bad day. We may wake up feeling “under the weather,” depressed, or even lazy at times. But the cold truth is that the market doesn’t care how you feel. Your clients and business partners may be empathetic. They may listen to your tale of your sinus headache or mental low, but in the end, all they want is results. They are paying you for a service that helps them as much as it helps you and they need you to pull your weight. If you cannot hold up your end of the bargain, they will find someone else who can.
- Results are all that matters.– As mentioned above, results are all that matters. The market, your customers, and your business partners just want to see that they are getting the best return on their investment. This means that your performance and productivity must continue to turn a profit to keep the deal in place.
- Guard your emotions.– Emotions are a tricky thing. Even people who are extremely stable may sometimes find themselves feeling depressed or in a mental or emotional slump. You should be proactive with this and guard yourself against mental lows by eating better snacks that are good for your mood and brain, as well as getting enough exercise and rest. These factors can help you deal with negative emotions or keep you working when you don’t feel good. They may also keep you from getting into an emotional “low” in the first place.
- Keep your mind on the goal.– It’s easier to keep going when you keep your mind on the goal that you wish to achieve. According to one entrepreneur and author, Christy Wright, in her book, Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves, Christy talks about knowing your “why” that motivates you to keep on keeping on. She stresses that there will always be hard times as an entrepreneur, especially those that work at home and you should keep track of your emotions, know your reasons that you got into business, and stay on track.
The Art of Being Practical
When you are an entrepreneur, you are a dreamer. It comes with the territory. But you are also pragmatic. You must take a practical approach to everything you do. If you don’t, you will not know when to let go of something when it is not working out. Dreaming about a great product or idea is wonderful. But like Steve Jobs often said, “There is a big leap between an idea and a marketable product.” It’s getting from point “A” to point “B” that determines your success.
You must also be specific with your goals and write down a specific plan to achieve the goal. You may change your plan several times along the way, but you must have a plan so that you will know how you are progressing along the way. You should also evaluate your progress as you go and decide what is working and what is not. Letting go of the things that don’t work is often one of the hardest but most important things to do when you are building your dream. The realization that you are not deserting the dream even if you have to change your course is one of the hardest concepts to understand.
How to Win the Game
Another entrepreneur who takes a pragmatic approach to everything he does and considers entrepreneurship like a sports content is Mark Cuban. He has a long resume of entrepreneurial pursuits, and he once called himself a “serial entrepreneur.” Now, he focuses on media and the radio and television industries as well as his Dallas Mavericks basketball team. In his recent eBook, How to Win in the Sport of Business, Cuban outlines how he has succeeded in business by thinking of entrepreneurship as a game that he must win.
Fiercely competitive, Cuban would never take “no” for an answer, and he realized that a “no” today could be a “yes” tomorrow. He also states that you must be the best at what you do, as a determined athlete and let nothing get in the way of your goals.
He quips that he must be the “luckiest guy in the world,” while inside he knows it wasn’t luck that got him to the 1 billion mark. It was sheer dedication and determination and a solid motivation as to why he wanted to reach his goal. He had seen others struggle to try to build their business and fail numerous times. He concluded that it wasn’t the failures that determined their end. It was that they gave up.
He concludes in the book that, if you are willing to take the “hard knocks” and dust off your knees and get back “in the game,” you can still win, despite the occasional injuries and setbacks.
This is a great perspective to take with you as you sail through the dicey seas of entrepreneurship. There’s no easy way to win in any business. You never know what unseen storms or obstacles lie ahead. But, if you want it more than anything in the world, you’ll get there.