I couldn’t be more excited to participate in the celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week here on the Networking Exchange blog. Not only am I an entrepreneur myself, having pursued my passion in media by turning it into a successful business on radio and TV, but I’ve always been a strong supporter of other entrepreneurs looking for help turning their dreams into an economic reality!
Whether you’re already an entrepreneur or someone just starting down that path, I hope you’ll find value in my post this week, which focuses on the five key words I use in my own daily examination of my business and reaching my goals.
If you’re just starting out, I hope these five steps will give you a solid foundation to build your business. But if you’ve already started a business, I think you should still take a second to take a step back, try my different techniques, and use Entrepreneurship Week to get re-centered on your goals and dreams for your business.
Here are my five words I think all entrepreneurs need to think about this week:
Your mindset is your approach to business. You should be optimistic, someone who sees the glass as half full. If you’re going to be successful, your approach should reflect that positive outlook and you should move forward from a place of strength, not fear.
“Mindset” is really about the mental toughness you need in order to succeed and it isn’t an easy thing to get right. You really have to condition yourself to be prepared for the inevitable ups and downs you’ll face with your business.
The reality is that if you walk around trying to network and grow your business while you’re carrying too much negative energy around, you’re not going to get the outcomes you’re looking for!
So many entrepreneurs focus on their products, services, website, marketing, fundraising—these are all important pieces of the puzzle, but you the entrepreneur need your own conditioning and your own exercising to get in the right mindset.
Here’s something you should try out today. Go and find a place where you know you can relax without distractions. Maybe it’s your living room, a bench at the park, or a hidden corner at the office. Go to that place and really think through your business and your goals in a positive way. One exercise I like to do is to write down on a sheet of paper only the things that I’ve done well in the past year. Then I take that list and reflect on it. I find that positive reflection often gives me a renewed energy which helps me to move forward on whatever obstacle I’m currently trying to tackle.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you need to identify your passions to succeed in business. Whatever you end up doing as an entrepreneur you need to be prepared to do it for free, for the rest of your life.
In order to start or grow your business, you have to be prepared to put in a lot of your own time, for free. No matter what your fundraising situation, whether you’re starting a venture in your garage or in a brand new office, you should be passionate about what you’re doing. If you are already in business, use this week as a time to revisit why you started your business in the first place.
If you are new to entrepreneurship then take some time to really think about what it is you’d be willing to do for free, and take that passion and start trying to figure out how to monetize it and turn it into a real business plan.
The other reason, of course, is that if things don’t go well you really might be working for free for years while trying to grow your business! So unless you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and rethink that business idea you’ve been kicking around.
I use visualization techniques for everything, and I’ve even talked on this site before about how I use visualization techniques to help me when public speaking. This is a great example because it really helps to get up on stage and mentally imagine the audience there before you, imagining how you’ll work through your talking points and how they’ll respond to your speech.
There are many visualization techniques out there. So do some research and put into practice what you think will work best for you. One thing I heavily recommend is that you should practice visualizing as physical as possible.
Any problem an entrepreneur faces can potentially be solved through a visualization exercise. First you really need to look at what’s wrong and try to understand where you’re failing. Do customers often complain that you’re too pushy when you’re on sales calls? Are you beginning to feel like your business is putting the wrong product in front of the wrong audience? Have you mastered the art of networking and taking clients out to lunch but having trouble closing key deals?
Once you have that roadblock identified, you start to visualize what a great sales call, meeting, or email might look and feel like. Actually take the time to close your eyes and really try and do this! Try and see the other person on the other end responding to what you’ve said or have written. Imagine that meeting not just happening somewhere in dreamland, but put it in a real, physical place like a coffee shop or a conference room.
Don’t just visualize them, though, actually see yourself discuss or sell with passion and see that they respond in all the right ways. I want you to see those little visual cues—they lean closer, they’re nodding their head. And at the end? A handshake and a firm commitment!
No matter what roadblock or setback you’re facing, visualization can help you clear through the clutter and find a resolution so that when you go out there to take action you’re coming with a clear goal and outcome not just in mind, but completely realized through visualization.
I don’t want to seem to obvious, and I know some of you are out there right now shaking your heads and saying, “Of course Mario would say that you have to believe in yourself”
But it’s so true!
“Belief” is a key word for me because it’s all about reminding yourself why you know you’re good. You have to believe you’re one of the greatest writers, musicians, leaders or salespeople of all time!
So today, take a few moments to remind yourself why you’re good at what you do, or why your product is great. Whether you need to re-read some customer testimonials, or talk with some of your biggest customers to remember why they love your product or service, just go and do it.
Belief is this undeniable energy that you can draw from, that you can carry with you no matter what happens along your entrepreneurial journey. Even when a deal is going south or you didn’t meet your sales quota, you’ll always be able to fall back on the fact that fundamentally you believe you can do what you’ve set out to do.
And once you truly believe it, it’s time to act.
This seems obvious but it’s the hardest one! You made it through the four previous steps, and you’ve gotten into the right mindset, you believe in yourself, and you’re visualizing your success. Unfortunately, the journey isn’t over, it’s just beginning! Because now it’s time to turn that passion into action and start doing something with it!
Too many people go to conferences or meet with their mentors and get fired up in the brainstorming or visualization parts of starting a venture but never get down to the nitty-gritty details of actually getting things done and executing.
Having that big picture point of view is good, and visualizing your success is important, don’t get me wrong, but that won’t help you get to where you need to go! Instead, action needs to be specific to where you actually are right now! For any business dream, whether it’s growing your personal brand to the point where you’re regularly appearing on TV, or you’re just trying to sell a dozen more donuts each day, there’s a concrete action you can take right now to move things along.
A lot of people want to take action but then overwhelm themselves with the amount of actions they want to take! They have too many goals laid out, but don’t know how to take the first step.
In order to move forward you need to make taking action something you can do in super-small steps. So try this: pick one thing you’re going to work on right now. Maybe you want to perfect your media kit, finish up your sales deck, or just send that email to the editor you’re hoping can get you that writing gig.
Take one small action, and then take another. Each day, make sure you’re knocking out at least one thing to take your entrepreneurial dream and turn it into reality. If you can do that, the bigger successes will start to follow.
What key success words are helping you succeed as an entrepreneur?
Want to go even more in-depth on each of these words? Visit my site every day this week for fresh video content and homework assignments!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.