We entrepreneurs don’t get to “practice” business, do we?
Actors get to refine the delivery of their lines before they perform for real, professional speakers spend hours rehearsing before standing before an audience, athletes practice for hundreds if not thousands of hours before the moment of truth and professional sports players spend 98% of their time perfecting their abilities in training for game time.
But business owners? Nah. We don’t get the luxury of premeditation at all. We learn “on the job”, thrown in the deep end, sink or swim.
Sadly most sink. The stats don’t lie. The vast majority work frantically to keep their heads above water for a while, expending an enormous amount of energy in trying to keep afloat, struggling, spluttering, gasping to keep oxygen in the lungs of the business, only to eventually succumb.
Some stay in this perpetual struggle for years, an entire career in some cases, working harder and harder for longer and longer, just to tread water and “make ends meet”. A much smaller percentage make it. They learn to swim. How well and how far depends on many factors, not least of which is the support and expertise they surround themselves with.
Let’s face it, learning the “game” alone and “on the hoof” is a massive risk.
Think of what’s at stake. Your business is the vehicle that feeds and clothes you and your family. It puts a roof over your head. It determines your entire financial future.
Who, in their right mind, would want to play Russian Roulette with something of that magnitude? No one with intelligence and an ounce of responsibility. So why do so many responsible, otherwise intelligent business owners do it then?
Here’s why; ignorance.
We just don’t know what we don’t know.
And the thing is, you can be highly intelligent and equally ignorant.
Think about it. You’ll never look for a solution to a problem if you’re not aware that you’ve got a problem in the first place. That doesn’t make you thick, dumb or stupid. It just makes you ignorant.
You won’t avoid playing Russian Roulette with your life…by playing Russian Roulette with your business…if you’re NOT aware you’re doing it.
And believe me, it’s very likely you are.
I’ve done it.
I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent guy. I can’t claim to be the Einstein of my generation and I’ve never been invited to join MENSA, but the last time I had an IQ test it scored 125 – a fair chunk of distance from what they determine is the UK “average”.
My most recent Emotional Intelligence (EQi) assessment with the leading authority in the field (Multi Health Systems of Toronto) was one of the highest they’ve ever recorded…and yet regardless, I still played Russian Roulette with my business for the first 4 years of my entrepreneurial career.
That’s because, for all of my intellectual and emotional intelligence, I lacked awareness. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had no idea I was playing Russian Roulette with my business. And inevitably the life it supported paid the price.
You see, it doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, if you’re out there doing this alone, you’re putting your business – and everything that comes from it – in a very precarious position.
It probably doesn’t feel that way. Ignorance is like a cancer, It doesn’t hurt until its done its worst.
And when I say doing this “alone”, I don’t mean literally alone. I’m sure you have family who mean well, wish you well and support you the best they can. You might have friends and staff who do the same.
But you and I both know they can’t help you to the degree you need.
They don’t get it. In some ways they don’t get you. They don’t understand the unique challenges of owning, building and running a business. They can’t . They can’t help you think beyond your problems. Your problems are career-specific. And they can’t share experience having faced similar challenges in the past. They’ve not had the experience.
You might have a network of peers from a local BNI chapter or Chamber of Commerce. They can empathise far more than your friends and family can…but you need more than empathy to build a successful life from a successful business.
You need expertise. You need to be stretched. You need exposure, on a regular basis, to the right kind of support – support and expertise that can take you and your business to continually higher levels of success.
If your peer-group network is getting the same kind of results as you are, believe me, you’re in the wrong network. Your peer group needs to change and change fast, because I can categorically promise, it’s limiting you, your business and your future more than you know.
As Tim Sanders (once of Yahoo!) said, “Your network is your net worth“.
As I said, you can’t blame those who know no better for their struggles and failures. Yes, they’re still the cause of their effects – that can never change – but if they know no better, they did the best they could…and paid the price for their ignorance.
But what about those who do know better?
What about those who are aware of the enormity of the risk they’re taking?
You see, the vast majority of the business owners who do grasp the “network = net worth” truth of entrepreneurial life have to dig deep into their pockets to get the right kind of expertise and peer group around them.
Great coaches aren’t cheap.
Great mentors aren’t either.
I should know because I’ve invested a substantial six-figure amount in both over the years.
I don’t begrudge a single penny. They’ve been, by far, the best investments I’ve ever made. The returns have been exponential. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today if I hadn’t been willing to do it. And I still invest heavily today, more so than ever.
Underachievers don’t understand the power of proximity to successful people and the impact it has on results. They also don’t understand the impact of the right kind of expertise. And it shows, month in month out, year in year out, in their results.
Underachievers value money more than improvement. They don’t understand that more of the former comes from more of the latter. They don’t understand there’s an “L” before “earning”. They don’t understand that the trick to wealth and success is to get money working harder for you than it ever will sitting in a bank account…and money can never work harder for you than when it’s invested in expertise and resources to improve the cause of all your effects – in other words, invested in YOU.
That’s why they don’t invest. And that’s why they don’t let go.
Christian Simpson is the UK’s leading coach and mentor to business owners and entrepreneurs. For COMPLIMENTARY ACCESS to tried, tested and proven entrepreneurial success strategies, click here