My brother-in-law set aside his life as a successful entrepreneur to serve the people and the country he loves. Make sure that whatever you are fighting for is inspired by love. It is the only drive that is inexhaustible and results in a truly fulfilling life.
Anger, resentment and revenge are motivators that burn hot. But they also burn out fast and take you with them. But when love is acted on, it is refueled by the responses of others and your own internal response. As far as motivators go, it is the only renewable resource.
I have been a salesman, and I never enjoyed it. What I really love to do is bless others and improve their lives. But recently, as I was reflecting on many of the things I am currently doing, I realized that in every endeavor, goods, services or money was changing hands.
“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I am a salesman. It just doesn’t feel like it. What’s going on
here?” For the next few weeks, I let my mind explore this scenario. What I saw in each context, whether it was one of our businesses, ministry I was doing, or a combination of both, was this: I have a compelling vision for what I want to accomplish; it is something I am very passionate about; and I share that vision with other people. Voila!
If you have gone through the Dale Carnegie professional development course (I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to grow) you learn something very important about enthusiasm. It’s awfully contagious! When I explain my vision, I am very enthusiastic, because it’s something I am very passionate about. People I talk to like the vision, the enthusiasm would be “caught”, and often without even asking, they want to “come along”, which meant I would get a “sale” or “partner”.
This was fascinating, but when it really got exciting was the day I realized I could transfer these principles to other people in different industries. Here is how this came about:
One of my best friends is in wealth management. He loves the industry, but he was hitting a wall when it came to getting new clients. I then realized that he was having the exact same issue I did when I was a salesman about 15 years ago. I know his life story quite well, so I decided to try to craft a “vision” based on his life and what I knew he could accomplish in other people’s lives. I did this early one morning and was so excited that I had to tell him before he went to work.
Rather than just try to “sell his services”, I asked what he thought about taking a different approach, using actual events from his life.
“I know what it is like to grow up poor. I wore second-hand clothes from the thrift store to school, had worn out shoes, and every month my family struggled to pay the bills. It was not fun, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it. Most people have gotten financial help from their parents, but I have had to help mine out over the years. I have spent the past few years learning the world of investing from some of the best in the industry. Becoming a millionaire, something I used to think was almost impossible, is quite an attainable goal for most. It is my personal mission to help as many people as possible avoid the hardships that I faced, and in the next two years, I want to put 100 people on the path to becoming millionaires.”
That, my friends, makes me want to become a financial adviser! Helping 100 people become millionaires is something that would get almost anybody excited and if someone is not currently on that path, I bet you they want to get onto it as quickly as possible.
Here are the steps to help you create your own, unique vision to change the lives of others.
1. Be “other-centered”, rather than self-centered The story above was largely about my friend, but his mission was completely about helping other people. Will he benefit from helping them? Absolutely! But it is the by-product, and not the focus, of his mission.
2. Craft a story and vision that gets YOU excited! Whatever product or service you offer meets a need. How can it have a dramatic impact on others? If you can accomplish anything you want using what you offer to help others, what would that be?
Big dreams inspire others, so don’t hold back! You will know you are onto something when an idea makes your heart start beating faster. Follow that thread, and the excitement will start to grow. As soon as you have something you really like, you will have trouble keeping it to yourself.
3. Make your vision better Write your vision and story down and refine it. Once you have it where you want it, tell it to some of your close friends and family and allow them to tell you how it affects them. Listen to their feedback and make more improvements
4. Say “good bye” to the awkward world of traditional sales
You can now throw your dry “sales pitches” in the trash, because you are now casting a vision for a better future! You are showing other people how their lives can be improved and equipping them with a message that is memorable and easy to pass on. When people truly catch your vision and hear your enthusiasm, they will be excited to join you on the journey!
Let me know how you apply this approach and the effects it has on your business. If you need help crafting your own vision, I am here to help. And if you are not currently on the path to becoming a millionaire, and you want to be, I can absolutely connect you to the man who can lead you there!
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If you are currently pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor and are not optimistic about its outcome, please allow me, as your grossly underpaid business adviser to give you some advice. Don’t do it!
“Well thanks a lot for the encouraging words, Mr. Free Business Adviser Oh, and by the way….you’re fired!”
Not so fast, Mrs. Pessimistic Entrepreneur! Give me a chance to explain, and hopefully even convert you from the Dark Side to the Light.
“Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit is…an optimist at heart. The desire to start a business, in and of itself, is optimistic. It’s a belief that you can do something to improve your situation and make a positive change in the world.” Ara and Nick, the authors of “The Lemonade Stand” believe that optimism is so critical for an entrepreneur that they make it the first of 13 principles explored in the book.
Your perspective and attitude as you build a new business will be one of the greatest determinants of its success. It is often the enthusiasm and amazing determination of a business founder that inspires the first few customers to take a chance and pay for his or her services. If that spark is lacking when you approach people, don’t expect them to believe in something that you don’t.
So if you do have pessimistic tendencies, does that mean that you are doomed to be a business failure?! I, with all of the authority of a free business adviser, can confidently assure you that you are not.
Here are a few steps you can take to start improving your attitude and perspective:
1. Consume the good stuff!
This is not a plea to encourage you to start drinking expensive wine. If you are going to change how you think, you have to change what you hear and read. You can start by replacing your gansta’ rap (gangsters are cocky NOT optimistic) with great podcasts from very successful (and yes, optimistic) entrepreneurs.
I daily consume the wisdom of the EntreLeadership podcast, The Brian Buffini Show, The Ken Coleman Show, and others. I can do it when I’m driving or working outside, so it takes no time away from other projects.They are a lot of fun, allow me to learn from amazing businessmen and women, and I get a lot of great book recommendations. If you want some from me, feel free to ask. I always have a book with me, so any time I have to wait, I get to read.
2. Put on a pair of “entrepreneur shades” Have you ever presented a great idea to someone and all they did was tell you all of the
obstacles and reasons your idea won’t work? Don’t be that guy! Every business idea encounters obstacles. But instead of viewing those as road blocks, with your new fancy sunglasses, you will see them as detours. And with each detour, you have the opportunity to make improvements in your business.
I recently helped a homeless shelter start a recycling facility. Initially I wanted to start with electronics, but after one meeting with an expert in the industry, I knew it would cost a fortune and take a really long time. There are so many regulations and certifications needed! But rather than getting discouraged, I set that idea on a mental shelf, and pursued a far more simple type of recycling to start with.
And the electronics recycling? We now do that too. All of those “obstacles” were wiped away with a single signature, when a major electronics recycling company saw what we were doing, loved it, and allowed us to partner with them. See how this works? No obstacles, just opportunities.
3. Trade in some of your “downers” for “uppers” “Birds of a feather flock together,” your mom said. My mom said it too, and even though
it drove us nuts, they were right. Based on that, if you need a change of attitude, you might need a change of friends as well.
Start by finding someone who people love to be around and asking them out to lunch. An optimistic entrepreneur would be ideal. Then you can improve your perspective AND learn. (If you live near Joplin, Missouri, I like Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Red Onion Espressoria, and Chick Fil-A, in that order. 😉 )
The more positive influences you add in your life, the more optimistic you are going to become. And if you want to use your gifts and passions to change your family, your community, or even the world, YOU have to truly believe you can or you will never give it everything you’ve got.
Have you ever heard of a child that was afraid to set up a lemonade stand because she might not sell enough lemonade? Me neither.
But as adults, probably the number one reason that men and women don’t start businesses and become entrepreneurs is fear.
“…for most people, entrepreneurship ends in childhood. Why? Because as we get older, it
gets riskier.” Ara Bagdasarian and Nick Gustavsson write in The Lemonade Stand: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know to Succeed in Starting and Running Any Business.
For a child, setting up a lemonade stand is fun! We enjoy the possibility of making some extra money, offering something refreshing to people on a hot day, and engaging with people when they stop by. It is an adventure with untold possibilities. I believe that entrepreneurship for an adult is even more exciting, and the fear most people have of it is largely due to misconceptions.
Here are some common misconceptions related to starting your own business along with my thoughts on how to correct them:
1. I have to take out a second mortgage on my home, or find millions in venture capital
CORRECTION: “Entrepreneurship” should be seen as a synonym for “problem solving”. If you see a problem that has not been solved, that is a potential opportunity for you to step in and solve it. And now with things like 3-D printing, the days of spending $30,000 to create a prototype are largely gone.
I am currently working on “solving a problem” and have a local 18 year old who knows CAD, owns a 3-D printer and is charging me $15 an hour to create my prototype! Once I have my prototype, I will take that to the company I want to distribute it and I will sell the item from the prototype, then have it produced. The whole process will cost me next to nothing.
2. I have to quit my day job, and then what happens if my idea doesn’t work?!
CORRECTION: There’s a reason “Don’t quit your day job.” is so common that it has become a saying. That’s because it’s very clear that it’s a dumb idea! Almost all ideas can be worked on late in the evening, early in the morning and on the weekends. As your idea gains momentum and starts producing revenue, maybe you can negotiate one day off a week from your normal job.
Once it consistently generates the same amount of income as you get from your “day job”, feel free to quit! But don’t do it too soon. Many jump ship prematurely, and endure hardships unnecessarily. It is much better to build a business gradually in your spare time and never risk your family’s financial future, than to put yourself in a position where if it doesn’t pan out quickly you’re ruined.
3. I can’t possibly compete with WalMart!
CORRECTION: You’re right! You would have a very hard time assembling that many people in one place who know basically nothing about what they are doing.
WalMart sells lots of basic stuff at a low price. You’re not going to do that. You’re going to solve a problem that has not yet been solved. The second you do that (and do that exceptionally well) you have differentiated yourself from EVERY business out there. If you don’t stop there, but keep iterating (creating newer, better versions of your product or service) even if someone does try to compete with you, they won’t be able to keep up.
There are risks associated with starting your own business. But if you’re wise about it, those risks can be minimized. Setting up a lemonade stand as a child was a blast, and opening a business and solving problems as an adult is even more fun. You are no longer just quenching someone’s thirst, you are making people’s lives better! Now get out there and solve some problems!
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Most of the time our thoughts are on auto-pilot. But what would happen if you deliberately sat down at the controls, grabbed the steering wheel and flipped auto-pilot into the “Disengage” position?
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” is a line written by King Solomon, who is said to be the wisest man to ever walk the earth. You could also listen to the slightly more contemporary Earl Nightingale who said, “You become what you think about.”
Our thoughts have the amazing power to determine our actions. But what if you are thinking about yourself, or a version of yourself, that does not yet exist?
Do you think a world class Olympic athlete ever became such without first thinking about becoming one? What about an amazing businesswoman, a world renowned chef, or a famous architect?
In each of these categories (and people in any other category for that matter) individuals spent years envisioning what they wanted to become. They dreamed of becoming the best at what they loved. And it was those thoughts that helped determine their actions, and those actions ultimately led to who they became.
You are no different. If you are not who or where you want to be right now, do not let that discourage you. Start using the amazing power of your mind, think hard about who you ultimately want to become and what you want to accomplish. Write it down and read it out loud daily. Let yourself begin to envision what the new “you” looks like. Do that consistently for 30 days, and I guarantee you will witness a profound change for the better!
Your daily routine will ultimately determine your destination. W.H. Auden, the playwright, poet and author said, “Routine, in an intelligent man (or woman, of course) is a sign of ambition..”
Most of your major achievements in life will not be made in giant leaps. Rather, they will be accomplished little by little as you make tiny steps in the right direction. You do not get in good shape by going out and impulsively running a marathon, and you do not become an expert by spending all day reading a single book on a topic.
The more positive aspects you include in your regular routine will allow you to make consistent progress in the areas you prioritize. I am, unfortunately, a rather slow reader. But I do not let this stop me. I always have a book with me and I read very regularly, typically in the morning and evening, but also when I get stuck in a waiting room or in line. As a result, since I have been keeping track, I have now read over 600 books on all different topics, from cover to cover.
To harness the power of routine, take a little time each day to begin with something inspiring, regularly exercise, and crack open a book on a topic of interest or related to your work. Keep at it for a while, and before you know it you will get in better shape, people will start asking you what you think on various topics, and you will in general become a better person. Such small but very consistent steps are how legends are made.
Are you going in a million directions every day, or are you laser-focused? It’s most likely the former, because unless you have deliberately gone through a process of focusing your life, our default mode is disorganized.
However, there there is a step-by-step process for transforming your life from the image on the left to the image on the right. In Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he takes you through the following steps and covers much more:
1. How to choose the things that are most important in your life
2. How to say “No” to the things that are not the best use of your time
3. How to decide where you can have the greatest impact
4. How to execute in that area
Don’t let other people make decisions for you. Take the time to choose what is most important in your life and start moving in that direction!