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Starting A Small Business? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

Starting A Small Business? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

Most of us believe that starting a business of any kind takes a certain kind of person.

That someone probably has to have an entrepreneurial mindset or has to be able to easily weather risk or else starting a small business just isn’t in the cards for them. We might even think that a small business owner means someone has to have connections, be outgoing and easily able to network.

But the truth is, all sorts of people start small businesses – from engineers to accountants to crystal healers – and extroversion is not a requirement!

Here are three other common myths that can hinder you from going after your dream of starting a small business:

1. Your Fears Are Real    

For instance, instead of believing you do not have enough money to start a business, you could instead say to yourself, “I’m willing to learn ways to find start-up funds for this new venture.”

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Instead of believing you lack the charisma or extroversion to make people work with you or attract clientele, try saying to yourself, “I’m open to learning new ways of engaging with people.”

None of those fears are reality.

To put it another way, changing the mindset you have from a fear-based one to a learner’s mindset has been proven to increase success.

For any aspiring entrepreneur, the fears that pop up in our minds are insecurities usually disguised as reality and they typically look like: “I don’t have enough money to start a business,” “I don’t know enough about business,” “I don’t have enough contacts,” or “I’m not charismatic enough.”

2. You Need Another Degree or Certification or Training

This is a big and hard myth to dispel in our status-driven world, but in order to start a business, you don’t need an MBA or an additional certification in marketing.

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Your best form of learning for your new business will be experiential – learning on-the-go – just as it has been for the rest of your life. Besides, you’re probably thinking about starting a business in a field in which you’re already familiar.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s your current day job. This could also be a field in which you have a genuine interest and have read about extensively, gone to conferences for, attended meetings, etc.

Thus, you probably have more experience and knowledge about the business you’re trying to start than you initially might have guessed.

3. Everything Has to be Perfect Before You Can Start

One of the other biggest myths about starting a small business is that you need to have all of your ducks in a row. That looks like a thorough business plan, thriving social media accounts, a professional in-depth market analysis, goals, plans, teams of resources, etc. People believe that all of those things plus more have to be 100% lined up before they can start their business.

But behind that need to have everything lined up is usually a fear of failure. And that fear keeps many people from even starting down the path of small business ownership.

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Here’s a question to ask yourself: Have other people started businesses without the requirements you’ve set for yourself?

You already know what steps you need to take

Here’s the secret to performance and success: We already know what we should be doing in order to be successful.

It’s not a lack of knowledge that holds us back, it’s the continual loop of negative thinking in our minds that does.

Coach/author Alan Fine has studied this phenomenon with thousands of sports and business clients and calls it “interference.”

Essentially, his research shows that, in order to be successful, we need to get out of our own heads and find that place of effortless joy, also called “flow,” in the work that we want to do. “Flow” is defined as that sense where time flies by and you feel enlivened and energized by the work that you’re doing.

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When starting a small business, it’s important to continually seek out that place of flow in the new business that you’re building. Define what it is that you really, truly love to do and focus in on that. This helps to break to the negative feedback loop running in our minds.

Letting go of the negative thinking patterns doesn’t mean that a new business doesn’t need business plans, marketing, or clearly defined goals, but the more you can focus in on the parts of the new business that bring you joy and provide you with flow, the more you will communicate that excitement when you speak with others.

And when we get out of our own heads, then we can hone in on the answers to these forward-momentum questions:

  • How will you help others in this business?
  • Who will your ideal clients be?
  • What type of experience will you clients walk away with?

Most importantly, what’s the one step that you can take today that will put you in alignment with your dream of starting that new business?

More by this author

Erin Newman

Life Coach

starting a small business Starting A Small Business? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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