“Begin to see life through a completely different lens. Life doesn’t happen TO you. Rather, it can happen BECAUSE of you. You have far more power and influence than you can possibly imagine. And once you decide, you can use your power to affect your own life as well as the life of the people around you.” Dick Sutphen
It happened. You’ve reached the point in your life when you’re ready to “do your own thing.” Maybe your position was eliminated and you don’t want to use your talents and skills to build someone else’s business. Or you’ve had a burning desire to pursue a venture that is all yours. Perhaps you’re feeling the need for a radical change in your career aspirations. However it happened, you feel you’re ready for a big change in your life as an entrepreneur. Follow these six steps to let your entrepreneurial adventures begin!
1. Dream Big.
What do you want your life to look like in five years? Why do you want to accomplish this goal? Figuring out your “why” is the most important detail in the process. If you’re goal is simply “to get rich,” chances are good that you’re going to fail. The money will never come quickly enough, and if it does, it’s never enough to keep up with the demands.
Maybe you want to have more flexibility in the time you spend with your kids. Perhaps you’d like to sleep until you’re done (don’t count on that for awhile!). It could be you’d like to travel. You “why” may be to give back and make the world a better place. Whatever your “why” is, make it significant and powerful. Your “why” may not be a dream after all – it may be a dread. You may wake up one day and ask, “What will my life look like in five years if I continue to do the same thing I’m doing now?” For some, that question alone is scary enough to try something different. Dream big and start the process!
2. Educate Yourself.
What do you have to learn about your chosen profession? Do you need to go back to school? Do you need to read books about the industry or product? Do you need to subscribe to trade journals? It’s been said that “readers are leaders” and also that “learners are earners.” If you don’t have time to read, how about learning while you drive? A study by the University of Southern California found that if you live in a city and drive 12,000 miles a year, you receive the equivalent of a two-year college education every three years by listening to audiobooks while you drive. Do what you can to learn as much as you can. Education will prepare you for the ups and down – and the surprises – that you’ll run into along the way.
This is a big one! There is no line drawn in the sand here. Know that whether your goal takes six months, six years or sixteen years, it shouldn’t matter. You are in this to win this and the only way you can fail is to quit. Having a dream (or a dread) that is significant enough makes committing to its achievement that much easier. Mack R. Douglas, the author of several books on success, once said, “The achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit yourself to it.” Very powerful words indeed!
4. Identify the steps.
Identify the steps you need to take to get to where you want to go. Put together a business plan and set your goals. Figure out what you need to do step-by-step. If you have a five-year plan, start with where you want to be in five years and work backwards. Write your goals down! After all, an unwritten goal is a wish. Create SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Review your objectives on regular basis – whether it is daily, weekly or monthly. Consistency is important. As you achieve each step, make sure you reward yourself along the way. After all, the journey should be fun too!
5. Do it.
You can dream, read and visualize all day long, but without taking daily action to move forward, you’re not going to accomplish your goals. Jack Canfield said, “As you begin to take action toward the fulfillment of your goals and dreams, you must realize that not every action will be perfect. Not every action will produce the desired result. Not every action will work. Making mistakes, getting it almost right, and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right.” And as famously said by Thomas Edison about his invention of the light bulb, “I have not failed 10,000 times; I have successfully discovered 10,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” So, just go out and take action. Do the 20% of the activities that are going to get 80% of the results. Don’t be afraid to mess up – learn from your mistakes, get over your big bad self, and move on. You need to take action to move forward.
6. Express gratitude.
No matter what your goals and dreams are, chances are good that you’re not doing it alone. Make sure to acknowledge and thank those people who helped you along the way. As Mary Kay Ash said, “Everyone has an invisible sign around their neck that says ‘Make me feel important.'” Send a hand written thank you note to those who helped you, mentored you, or went out of their way for you. If you show sincere appreciation, you will inspire others that they can accomplish their goals as well. Always pay it forward, and show gratitude for all you have.
These six steps will give you want to need to thrive as an entrepreneur. Remember: have a Dream, Educate yourself, Commit to your vision, Identify the steps you need to take, Do what you need to do, and Express appreciation to those who have helped you along the way. In short – DECIDE.
Decide once and for all that you will see this through to the end and that you will reach your goal. Commitment comes from within. So commit with all your heart and muster all your willpower to persevere, no matter what. Remember, if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to achieve it. Decide that you will succeed and claim your victory!
(About the Author: As Founder of Grategy, Lisa Ryan works helps organizations keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She is the author of seven books, and co-stars in two films, the award-winning: “The Keeper of the Keys,” and “The Gratitude Experiment.” To learn more, visit www.grategy.com.)