There isn't anyone out there who hasn't started or run a business and not experienced some down time and challenges. It's what it means to take risks and is inescapable. It also is what enables us to succeed - if we can learn from both our wins and losses.
Carol Dweck is a proponent of being an open learner - seeing life experiences as opportunities for growth. She's absolutely right in this - we always need to keep an open mind and learn from the present.
What I've learned from running my own business is this:
- Everything you have now - your results, your revenue, your prospects - is only a function of past actions. It is not an indication of future potential. Get over it and look ahead.
- Plan to fail as well as succeed. Think about potential challenges and what they could mean to your business. Take your business plan, project ahead and as much as possible, brainstorm possible responses to both success and failure. Even if the exact issues do not come up, the thinking will be invaluable.
- If you succeed, celebrate for a moment, then quickly dissect what worked and what didn't. There are always things that didn't work. Find them. They are gold.
- If you fail, allow yourself a moment to grieve. But, just a moment. Then, quickly dissect what worked and what didn't. There are always things that did work. Find them. They are gold.
- Make sure what you are doing is something you love and are great at. You'll be more likely to put the extra effort in and succeed. It sometimes takes a short while to get a business up and running and sometimes a lot of work. If the joy isn't there it will seem like a life sentence.
- Come from love. This is not some new age, airy fairy piece of advice. Sales pitches, feedback, performance reviews and criticism always sound better when they are spoken from care and love.
- Find your advocates. Connect with people who love what you do and nurture those relationships. Not just for business reasons - they'll remind you that you're amazing during the down times and be a resource for support, coaching and mentoring. Everyone needs a boost.
- Find people whose work you love and let them know it. Acknowledgement goes both ways.
- Choose your business associates wisely and if you sense they are the wrong fit, act quickly. This town is too small to waste time making the same mistakes over and over again. Even if you live in China.
- Always believe in yourself and be your best friend. No matter what. This way you know you'll always have someone you can turn to for a word of encouragement, no matter where you are!
Finally, keep going. Most businesses fail because people give up too soon. If you believe in what you have created, fight like mad to keep it.