You’ve done it. You’ve decided to start your own business and quit your job. Congratulations!
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones and have enough cash stockpiled for a decent “runway,” you probably still feel a twinge of fear and uncertainty around your decision despite your confidence in your obsessive work ethic and ability to focus.
You’re scared out of your mind. But it’s OK. You are not alone.
Remember you chose the path less traveled for a number of good reasons. You want more control over your schedule. You desire more autonomy. And you are sick of working yourself to the bone to make someone ELSE rich.
So then why are you waking up at 2 AM flooded with thoughts like…
Is my business idea sound? What if I run out of money? Is the niche I’ve chosen too crowded? Do my friends and family think I’ve lost my mind for giving up a steady paycheck and benefits? Will I have enough customers or clients to keep afloat and pay my bills?
What separates those that go on to become successful entrepreneurs vs. those we call “wantrapreneurs” are a few battle-tested beliefs, habits and systems.
While their resolve may be tested along the way, they now have their failsafe in place ensuring that they’ll never be down for long.
So, what do they do differently than the other 85% of businesses that fail in the first few years?
That’s what we’re about to show you, illustrated by real-world case studies of some of the most successful small business owners that we know. They generously offered up their insights, strategies and mindset hacks that have been instrumental in their success.[tweet_box design=”default”]Fear is always there. It’s whether you let it stop you or use it propel you forward. [/tweet_box]As you’ll see from the entrepreneurs featured below, they took their fear and used it to be better.
Lesson 1: Overcome Devastating Setbacks
In 1999, an almost fatal accident forever changed the trajectory of Hal’s life:
“I don’t recall seeing the headlights of a massive Chevrolet truck coming directly at me. In an instant of perverse fate, the full-size Chevy pickup, traveling at an estimated 80 miles per hour, smashed on into my undersized, and under-matched Ford Mustang.”
The metal frames of our two vehicles collided—screaming and screeching as they twisted and broke. The Mustang’s airbags exploded with enough force to render us unconscious. My brain, still traveling at seventy miles-per-hour, smashed into the front of my skull, destroying much of the vital brain tissue that made up my frontal lobe.”
The pickup hit Hal’s Mustang head on, and the force of the crash shoved the car into the lane to Hal’s right, exposing the driver’s side to the car following behind him. A Saturn sedan, driven at the time by a 16-year-old, immediately crashed into Hal’s car at 70 miles per hour.
Clinically dead for 6 minutes, Hal was in a coma for 6 days and spent the next 7 weeks in recovery and rehab in the hospital. Hal recalls lying in hospital and thinking:
“Coming to grips with my new reality wasn’t easy, and at times I couldn’t help but wonder—why did this happen to me?”
Having been given a second chance and firmly believing that everything happens for a reason, Hal decided to pursue his dreams. Sharing his life lessons with others started him on the road to speaking and coaching. And in 2006 his first book, Taking Life Head On: How to Love the Life You Have While You Create the Life of your Dreams, was published.
Instead of falling into depression and self-pity after the accident, he opted to face his fears head on:
- He embraced how things were, rather than complaining and focusing and how things should be
- He chose to focus his energy on making the best of what he had, rather than wishing his life was different, wishing bad things didn’t happen
- He focused on moving forward, rather than looking backwards at the past
He chose to be genuinely grateful for all that he had and took responsibility for creating what he wanted.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. Despite his accomplishments as a success coach, best selling author, and top salesman, in 2007 Hal’s life fell apart again. The US economy crashed and Hal’s coaching clients dwindled, cutting his income in half. He was $425,000 in debt and hit rock bottom.
Hal spent a year in misery before confiding in a friend about how he was feeling. His friend asked if he was exercising… which he wasn’t. He started running in the morning and through this, began to develop his own Miracle Morning routine. This lead to the creation of his bestselling book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life… Before 8am!
Lesson 2: Build a Great Team
When it comes to leading, delegating and outsourcing in a business, not many entrepreneurs do it better than Elisa Doucette.
Elisa made a name for herself in recent years with her widely-read Forbes column. Last year, she launched the podcast “Writers Rough Drafts,” featuring some of the most notable writers on the planet. Yet, she’ll be the first to tell you that she got her start by taking on the Tropical MBA and its exclusive membership community as her first high-profile client.
She spearheaded the project of creating a thriving community of Internet entrepreneurs called the Dynamite Circle. They grew quickly, thanks in no small part to Elisa’s expertise.
She helped build the thriving paid-access online community of Internet entrepreneurs (The “DC”) from scratch. Due to her vision, skills and unrelenting commitment, The Dynamite Circle grew from 15 initial members to well over 1,000 in just a few years.
She curated the best content and served as official community manager, ensuring the highest levels of quality, while delivering insane amounts of value possible to paying members. She took the lessons learned from her early success and ended up applying them to her own book launch consulting and copyediting business. She has become a poster child for success through building a talented, cohesive team.
We asked her a few specific questions about her life and business over the past five years, and here is what she shared with us:
What made you decide to leave the traditional path?
“I left the traditional career path because I am an exceptional employee. I know, that sounds weird. But the truth is that I have been pivotal in the success of multiple startups and corporate departments, often tripling sales revenue and crushing goal projections with my tenacity and expertise. “
Elisa freely admits she craved freedom above all else. She hated being tied to a set schedule, regardless of what she achieved. On a whim, she started her own freelance copywriting agency and landed her first paying clients.
No stranger to the fear of failure, Elisa readily admits to occasional anxieties around her business. However, unlike most people, she channels the fear as fuel that drives her to act.
She says, “I’m hugely anti-failure. I was so motivated to ‘prove’ to people that I was, in fact, able to execute these solutions and ideas on my own.”
We listen to Elisa because she walks her talk. Her successes are inspiring and have given us the courage to go after what we want as well.
What’s the ONE tip you’d give to any entrepreneur?
“Learn how to delegate.
My energy is best spent figuring out how to use our available resources to manifest the vision I have for the company. It isn’t best spent setting up Google Documents or chasing people for payment. So I find people better at these things than I am, and happily entrust their completion to my team.”
Lesson 3: Build Influential Relationships
80% of the people in Mike Harrington’s life—coworkers, family and friends—told him it was too risky. Many actively tried to talk him out of going for it. Yet, he chose to trust his instincts and work ethic, and got on with it. He took the leap from his six figure corporate gig and jumped into entrepreneurship with both feet.
Mike took action. Here’s what he accomplished in under 12 months:
- He aggressively saved money (lived on only 25% of his take-home pay) in order to pay down remaining debts and to stash an “escape fund.”
- He learned how to find, pitch and land freelance copywriting clients, which was both scary and exciting. As a result, new opportunities dropped in his lap – because he put in the work with an almost obsessive focus.
- He ponied up the cash and bought a one-way ticket to South America. There he was able to take advantage of the cheaper cost of living.
Mike has seen success with his own two eyes – due to an unrelenting work ethic – and it’s only added to his conviction and motivation to make all of this work. He explains:
“I got my feet wet by landing freelance copywriting and SEO work, while keeping up appearances in my corporate job. I moved on to selling affiliate products and services that I believed in. Once I found that I could indeed make enough money to get things rolling, my confidence took off.”[tweet_box design=”default”]Relationships precede success.[/tweet_box]
Relationships are the lifeblood and currency of your business. Relationships mean more referrals, better advice and a built in support network to weather the storms.
Key relationships with influencers can enhance your authority status in your niche. They can propel you from the lower ranks of Internet obscurity into an authority in your niche.
There is a caveat: Create as much value for others before asking for anything in return. Whether it’s your clients, partners or the influential people you meet along the way, people tend to remember those that offered help.
In the game of online entrepreneurship, relationships and reputation are your currency—especially in your first 12 months. Remember, negative talk can and will spread like brushfire. Your reputation can be tarnished faster than you can say “Wi-Fi.”
Lesson 4: Take Action
Lise Cartwright of OutsourcedFreelancingSuccess.com says:
“If you want to lead a life that gets you excited to get out of bed each day, then you must commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen. That means you face fear head on and bounce back from setbacks as fast as you possibly can.”
Action trumps all.
Here’s what Lise achieved in less than 6 months after quitting her full-time job:
- She used skills she already had in order to replace her full-time income. Her main focus was freelance writing, working with clients on sites like oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer.
- She went on to scale her business as quickly as she could, finding clients interested in long-term work, and then outsourcing that workload to contract writers she hired. Long-term clients are easiest to find once you’ve already built a trusted relationship with them.
- She co-founded a Mastermind group of like-minded entrepreneurs to stay sane and have other people understand what she was going through. As a result, the entire group bounced back from setbacks quicker and stronger.
Lise learned quickly that the ups downs, and periods of self-doubt will always be there, lurking in the shadows. But the antidote to these underlying fears comes in two simple words:
Have you experienced this on your journey?
People around you may begin to offer you unsolicited, often unhelpful advice. This can be annoying, but when you expect this to happen, you’ll be better prepared to handle objections and even negativity with ease.
When you take a step in the direction of doing what you love, the Universe will test you. But if you stick to your guns, unseen forces will begin to guide you, and you can’t help but start to succeed. The quick wins will breed momentum and confidence in the path you’ve chosen.
Remember: the test is in your own resolve and a burning desire to lead a life you’ve designed, instead of following someone else’s design for you.
There is no magic pill to solve all of the challenges you’ll face as an early entrepreneur. However, if your eyes are wide open, you develop new skills and nurture powerful relationships, a great thing can happen:
You’ll realize that while you might be in business by yourself, you don’t have to be alone.
What’s In It For You?
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this:
Success leaves clues.
When you see what systems, habits and tools are working for other successful entrepreneurs, patterns begin to emerge. And, once you recognize and start implementing these systems, mindsets and daily habits, the scales of success begin to tip in your favor.
Remember, entrepreneurship and walking your own path is not for the faint of heart. The harsh truth is this lifestyle is not for 95% of people, and even that’s being generous.
But, with persistence, the right tools and an unbreakable mindset, you can and will tip the odds of success in your favor. Remember to trust the process and push through the dips.
What about you? What fears do you find yourself facing on your entrepreneurial journey? Tell us in the comments below!