Running a business is an exercise in fear, excitement, fear, elation, fear, hard work, and fear. Did I mention fear? In the 11 years I’ve been running my firm, I’ve learned a few indispensable lessons that apply no only to entrepreneurs but to business folks in all walks of life.
Yesterday was our 11th birthday. 11. thoughtLEADERS, LLC turned 11 yesterday. I’m still in shock over the milestone.
“Why are you in shock, Mike? Don’t you believe in yourself and your business?”
Absofrickinlutely. That’s the only reason it’s survived 11 years. I believe in it more than you can imagine.
During that time, I’ve learned a great deal and I’ve grown as a businessman every single day. Every setback was a learning opportunity. Every success has pushed me closer to the next chasm to jump. What I’d like to do today is share 11 pieces of advice that can hopefully help you be more successful in your work (and life) as well. This guidance doesn’t only apply to entrepreneurs. It’s for business people in all walks of life. I hope you find them helpful.
1. Your business will change. Either you can change it or the market will change it for you. Change is the constant. It’s easy to get locked in on a model that works to the exclusion of other opportunities or ideas. For the longest time I railed against putting our content in video form. “You can’t learn our stuff from online videos.” It took me a while to come around and only once I met the amazing folks at lynda.com did I warm to the idea. My fear was putting our stuff on video would cannibalize our core in-person training. Instead, it’s reinforced that training and has given us broader visibility to new customers. So far I’ve put a bunch of our courses online and more will follow. I’m thrilled with the results. Be open to changing your business. When the market makes changes for you, it usually sucks.
2. A deal’s not a deal until it’s a deal. I’m an excitable guy. If I had a nickel for every deal I thought would go through that subsequently fell through for some reason, I’d be retired by now. Early on, I placed a lot of value in those “tentative but definitely coming through” deals and I planned for that. When they didn’t materialize, fear and panic ensued. Since then I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm. In my eyes, it’s not a deal until I’m stepping onto the podium. Be sure you balance your expectations with reality and have contingency plans for when things don’t go as expected.