More and more we’re hearing about the real side of starting your own business, the struggles, the money question, the considerably longer time frame involved than is popularly depicted in the media. So the crucial question isn’t what’s the secret formula that x entrepreneur used to get their business from idea to millions, it’s how do they approach life differently that allows them to see opportunities that others have missed, and preserver through the tough times long enough to reach success.
Ultimately, building a life on your own terms is therefore down to your mind set. When everyone else is telling you you’re mad to give up a highly paid secure job, or your idea is crazy because that’s not how the industry works, how do you find your way through, create a path where there isn’t one and come out the other side in your own version of success?
1. Refuse to be ‘busy’
We could all agree a lion is pretty good at what he does — he gets the job done. But you don’t see him running around all day looking ‘busy’. He sits in the shade conserving his energy, so when an opportunity presents it’s self he’s ready to pounce. If you’re too consumed with being busy and don’t give yourself time to stop and look around you, you’ll never realise your full potential. Having time to recognise and take advantage of opportunities when they come, is vital.
Having this space allows you to say yes more and it’s through this simple act that great things can happen. Of course, that’s not to say yes to everything, but say it a bit more — to the fun stuff, the opportunities and the things that make you excited, not the stuff you feel like you’re expected to do.
Take action: Clear out your diary of the ‘busy’ stuff and join like-minded people in Say Yes More
2. Talk to strangers
The more you can open yourself up to broadening your network, collaborating and connecting, the more opportunities will present themselves that you’ll want to say yes to. Every aspect of life is made by the people in it; work, travel, down time, adventures, love, side projects. The people you surround yourself with in every aspect impact you. They influence how you think and how you create, and they determine what opportunities you bump into.
So the more you surround yourself with people who are already living the life you want, or are on the path and think the same way as you, the drastically easier it becomes to realise your potential.
Take action: Here are some awesome tribes of people realising their potential
Of course, just because an opportunity looks good, doesn’t mean you should bet your mortgage on it. To me this quote below sums up how you should approach start up.
“Think of it not as starting a business, but as running an experiment.”
When you think of an idea as a side project, a weekend experiment or something that is pretty cool, but not the be all and end all of your life, you get rid of the pressure and leave room for creativity and objectivity.
The most successful approach, I believe, in doing this is to be lean and this means hustling. Spend as little money as possible (I think starting with a pot of cash is a disadvantage!), create a Minimum Viable Product, minimise your outgoings and pull in favours. People love being part of start ups, so if you can give them the opportunity to do something they love and help them out while they’re doing you a favour, go for it.
Take action: That idea you’re working on… what’s the most basic way you could test it? Gather some friends, a max budget of £50 and test it this weekend
4. Have fun
An experiment doesn’t have to be the next big business that’s going to change the world. You could design a new board game, create an off-the-wall range of dating t-shirts, or run a pop-up restaurant on your balcony. The more experiments you run the more you learn and the more likely you are to come out with a different result that hits the spot.
Experiments are also a fantastic opportunity to go co-founder dating. Finding a co-founder is just like dating, you don’t want to jump into bed with the first person that shows interest in your idea — a lot of good businesses fail because of co-founder differences, not because of the business it’s self! So if you’ve found someone who seems like a potential co-founder run a cool side project with them, find out what they’re really like to work with on a day-to-day basis, and then if an interesting business opportunity does come along you know you’ve already got someone great to work on it with.
Take action: Is there someone you’ve had your eye on and would love to work with? Now is the time to stop stalking them, buy them a beer and propose an experiment.
5. Scare yourself, regularly
The only thing standing in the way of succeeding at building a life on your own terms, is you. Like everyone else you’re probably terrified about what happens if it all goes wrong, but that’s good. It means you care about what you’re doing. If you work in a job that you hate, it doesn’t matter if you fail because you didn’t really care about it any way. But when you live a life that’s true to you and you’ve gone out on a limb to forge your own path, if it all goes wrong it feels like a bit of you wasn’t good enough, like you’ve failed and there’s no backup plan because you put your whole self out there.
Well the truth is, even if it does fail, it was the project that failed not you. You’ve done exactly what you were supposed to do — be the real you. And as you fail a bit more you’ll also learn a bit more, until it all starts to fall into place. It takes a lot longer then you think, but in time it will start to click and you’ll make real progress.
Given that choosing your own path is pretty nerve racking in it’s self, it’s a good idea to get used to the feel of being scared and taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Through doing this you’ll soon be able to cope with that feeling in your gut and use it to start running down your own path.
Take action: Do one thing you’re scared of every week for 8 weeks.
Got a cool idea you’re working on? Get in touch, I’d love to see if I can help.