“For every success story there’s 100s of near-misses. Every entrepreneur fails before succeeding.” - Sir Richard Branson
The Entrepreneur Paradox
You are an entrepreneur, which means you have probably been a little competitive most of your life. You have high standards and expect to meet them because you have a knack for making things happen, but when they don’t (or worse, it works out for someone else but not you) a little John McEnroe is let loose in your brain, causing mass destruction and emotional havoc. These moments can be perceived as “failures,” causing us in desperation to set off a blame-chain that will restore our confidence. So, (and I hate to quote Dr. Phil here but I just can’t not do it so humor me and say this in your head with a mustache and a southern accent) “how’s that working for you?” That is a failure mindset and you and I both know it is not serving you. The truth is that sometimes, no matter how brilliant, motivated, or competent you are, things just aren’t going to work the way you envisioned them. That does not qualify you as a failure because success is not a one-and-done deal. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from everyone else is the mindset with which they approach, navigate, and persevere through trial and error.
Here are a few examples to put this concept in context for you:
- Richard Branson, arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet, had an unsuccessful Christmas tree business in the 1960s.
- Donald Trump (love him or hate him, you can’t deny his business savvy), launched Trump Super Premium Vodka in 2006; it was a super flop.
- The first four Macy’s stores closed due to poor performance in the mid 1800s. Today, they have more than 850 stores in 45 states.
- Vera Wang, now a multimillionaire and leader in the bridal industry, failed to realize her first dream of landing a spot on the 1968 Olympic figure-skating team.
(See the article links below to learn more.)
When I work with a client, one of the first things we talk about is adopting the Paradise Mindset: the belief that you have the power to create the business and life that you want. Period. Let that sink in for a moment. This is a big leap, and it takes a few tough steps to get there, but the result is freedom like you’ve never known possible. In order to start down this path, I first coach clients on becoming HARPOM (I wish this word was more "businessy" but at least it is memorable, which is something.): honest, accountable, responsible, productive, organized, and motivated.
- Honest: Truth without emotion. The reality of a situation is what it is, regardless of how you choose to digest it. Successful entrepreneurs look at a situation and learn from it. Do not filter reality through your emotions.
- Accountable: Ownership of outcomes. Many entrepreneurs adopt the “little guy” perspective that allows them to pretend that outcomes are predetermined and out of their control. This is a lie that keeps you small. If you don’t like the outcome of an effort, change the effort and try again or learn from it and try something else.
- Responsible: Ownership of choice. How many times do you use the phrase, “I can’t” when it should really be “I won’t” or “I didn’t set aside the time/money/space to…”? One of the perks of being a business owner is that nobody makes you do or not do anything; enjoy that privilege! Decisions are a part of business ownership. Some are going to work out and some are not. Many entrepreneurs delay action until they feel they have the “perfect” plan, so when things don’t work out, they feel cheated. If you want something, move forward even if it’s not “perfect”. Make a decision about it, take control, prioritize, delegate, and choose to make it happen.
- Productive: Purposeful actions. Each day is an opportunity to make something happen, even if you’re behind schedule. Take the time to map your goals and tasks for each week, month, quarter, and year. Prioritize them, put them on your schedule, make time for them, DO them, and check in with yourself on your progress. Productivity creates the opportunity for success; procrastination is guaranteed failure.
- Organized: Working smarter not harder. Chaos is an energy drain. Take the time to set up systems and structures that organized and streamline your daily tasks and projects. This takes more time on the front end but frees up at least twice as much time and energy in the long run.
- Motivated: Champion your brand. This requires a deep understanding and connection to your “why,” which is something I work with all of my clients on, even those with 20+-year-old businesses. Nobody is going to trust your products and services if you quit or kick your business around when a launch or new venture doesn’t perform like you intended. Failures like this can be a gift because they tell you more about what your customers want/like/need than moderately successful launches can; appreciate and grow from them.
The HARPOM mindset is a tool for success, not a guaranteed formula for gangbuster sales. At the end of the day, what allows your business efforts to be successful is your commitment to your own overall success and your belief that you can have it. I suggest starting out every venture, in life and in business, with an intention and a validation: I want X, because Y. Then use the HARPOM traits to decide (the most powerful step, do not skip this!), commit, schedule, act, evaluate (and repeat from the beginning if necessary), and celebrate. Try this process and see how it impacts your efforts. You have the power to create the business and life that you want; don’t waste another minute believing otherwise.
Article Sources for Famous “Fails” Facts:
Is Richard Branson a Failure: http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-failure
The Many Business Failures of Donald Trump: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/pictures/the-many-business-failures-of-donald-trump-20110511
The Early Failures of Famous Entrepreneurs: http://grasshopper.com/blog/the-early-failures-of-famous-entrepreneurs-and-what-they-learned-3/
5 Famous Entrepreneurs Who Learned From Their First Spectacular Failures: http://www.fastcompany.com/3026253/dialed/5-famous-entrepreneurs-who-learned-from-their-first-spectacular-failures