Last month was kind of a special month for me.
On around the 15th of April, I celebrated 5 years working with Danny at Firepole Marketing.
Now, 5 years may not sound like a lot – but for a millennial who, pre-Firepole had almost 40 different jobs (most of them sucked), it’s kind of spectacular.
A LOT has changed in the last 5 years. Firepole Marketing went from a 2-person + an assistant (hello!) operation to a team of about 20 of the most brilliant and talented people imaginable. We’ve also gone from a handful of students to thousands in multiple trainings working on a dazzling array of different businesses.
And I’ve been lucky enough to get to see it all.
I’ve seen people be successful beyond their wildest dreams, and I’ve seen people crash and burn. I’ve seen people pick themselves up and start again, and I’ve seen people give up and go home. I’ve seen people start from absolutely nothing, and I’ve seen people start with more resources than we could have dreamed of when we were starting out.
Optimism, pessimism, enthusiasm, despair, doggedness and flightiness – all of these characteristics have been present in not just one, but in many students we’ve worked with over the years.
One question most people start out with is the same.
“Is this actually going to work for me?”
The answer, however, is not an unqualified yes. And to be honest, it takes a little time to learn one way or another if a given training is going to work out for a given person, or even whether they are cut out for an online business at all.
What I have been able to learn in 5 years of some of the most in-depth market research imaginable is that there are some pretty compelling indicators of success that you can see EARLY in the business building process.
It’s pretty likely your business will work for you if you’ve got the following…
Well Channeled Enthusiasm
First I’m going to get a landing page! Then Twitter! Then read this book! Then email a celebrity! Then sell this, and that and then that! To these people and those, and that guy, too!
Confession time – when I get a new idea – this is me. I can get so excited and so enthusiastic about something new that I want to chase every stray thought and do it all now, now, now!
This is one of the reasons I work for an entrepreneur instead of being one myself. Until I can channel that enthusiasm with a laser-like focus to achieve one specific goal at a time – my efforts are always going to bring me less than the work I put into them. (For any students I’m advising, don’t worry – it’s different with someone else’s business!)
Enthusiasm for what you’re doing is essential, of course – you’re not likely to make it if you don’t at least like it – but that enthusiasm needs to be in places where it’s going to do you the most good. Smart choices that lead to positive outcomes that drive your business forward.
But of course – not every smart choice leads to a positive outcome – so let’s talk about the next early indicator of success.
Willingness to be Wrong
Being told you’re wrong sucks.
But entrepreneurs can’t be precious. Accept it right now: you’re going to make bad choices, wrong moves and total goofs, and if you’re really, really lucky – someone will tell you.
You’re going to think (and to be fair – probably have every reason to think!) you’re on the right track – but then no one will open an email, a JV partner will turn you down, you’ll inadvertently offend your Facebook group.
As important as it is to stand up for yourself and your ideas, and move with confidence – you’ve also got to be open to the fact that sometimes, you’re just on the wrong track.
Being told you’re wrong can happen in a lot of ways, and it’s important to pay attention to them, even when you may want to hide your head in the sand a little bit.
You might launch a product that no one in your audience wants.
You might launch a product that lots of people buy – but everyone returns.
You might run a campaign or write a post that falls completely, totally flat.
Being wrong isn’t really a problem – but being wrong in the same way repeatedly is a terrible problem – so do yourself the favor of swallowing your pride, and rethinking your assumptions.
This leads directly into the next sign of success I’ve noticed in new entrepreneurs.
Focus on the Destination, Not the Journey
I know. This is basically anathema to a lot of people – and the journey IS really important. Doing the right work in the right order, and being careful to make the best choices you can – it’s all important. Enjoying the process doesn’t hurt either!
But when it comes to brass tracks, if you’ve got value you want to bring to the world, and really want a sustainable (read: profitable) business – then the path that you take to reach your goals might not look like what you think it will – and that has to be okay.
If you are absolutely, 100% married to the idea that you’ll build your business by doing ONLY this thing, for this person, and you’re not interested in any other ways to achieve your goals – you might get lucky – the first iteration might work – but it might not.
If you care deeply about your business – because creating a living for yourself matters, because making a difference in the world matters, because helping individuals matters – then you need to be flexible enough to keep the end goal in mind.
And if people don’t want to buy your books, offer them workshops. If they don’t want your professional services, teach them how to do it themselves. If they don’t want your digital product, make it physical.
Few businesses look exactly like their owners imagined they would on day one and keeping the end goal, the thing that *really* matters to you in mind, means that the path you take to it can twist and bend around the obstacles to where you want to be.
And the path is sometimes a long one – so getting to the end of it requires the last key indicator of success.
This is the big one.
It’s the hardest to maintain, and probably the most important of everything I’ve talked about.
Truth time: if you don’t prioritize your business, you won’t succeed with it.
To be clear: there’s a difference between making a conscious choice to prioritize something else (family, school, relationships etc) and just letting your deadlines get pushed and things get shuffled around until you’re maybe working at things every now and then but not really.
Things come up, life gets in the way – we’ve all experienced it. [tweet_box design=”default”]But you’ve got to show up and do the time, every time, on time if you want real results.[/tweet_box]
You need to protect the time you spend working on and developing your business like a mama bear protecting her cubs, and on days when you’re uninspired, totally convinced of your eventual failure, or facing what looks like an insurmountable obstacle – you’ve just got to do it anyway.
Really – showing up is half the battle.
So if you have:
- An un-directed enthusiasm,
- A conviction of your eternal right-ness,
- A rock-solid plan for how things *should* go, or
- A tendency to let things slide
…I’m not saying you can’t build a great business – but this is something you should watch out for and work on.
So – let’s open the floor, which of the early indicators of success do you have? Which do you need to work on? Let us know in the comments – and we’ll help!