Running a small business is a hard thing to do. I really don’t need to tell you that, because you already know. Also, a hard thing to swallow is the fact the majority of new small businesses fail. It’s inevitable. There’s always going to be a lot of starters. Starting is easy. Starting is exciting. Starting makes us feel powerful. It fills up with hope and the promise of success, riches and joy. But starting is just that, the start. Soon thereafter comes everything else. And it’s everything else that kills our dreams. It’s the reality of what comes after the start, after the easy part, that brings us back down to earth. It’s what forces us to realize that, while starting is easy, finishing is hard. Is there any way to carry over the excitement of the start all the way through to the finish line?
I’ve got a great idea.
It’s all there for the taking.
Watch me go.
Hear me roar!
Anything is possible.
All I need is just a chance.
Is there a magic formula that can help us to keep the momentum that we have at the beginning, the excitement of starting something new, and carry it all the way through to help lift us up when the shit hits the fan? Cause it’s really that fan moment that gets us. It’s when things start getting difficult that most of us cave. Starting is fun and exciting, but it’s when things get rough, when we really have to buckle down and do the hard work, that most of us throw in the towel.
Over and over again, it seems like the rough times take all of us by surprise. There we are, chugging along, enjoying the excitement of our little start-up, having fun growing our new business and all of a sudden, we get blindsided. It hits us. It hits us hard. Knocks the crap out of most of us, pushing us to the sidelines and out of the game.
What the hell just happened?
Most of the time we’re taken by surprise. Sometimes we don’t realize that the hard work is coming. Some of us think that everything is going to be fun and exciting like the start, while the rest of us trick ourselves into believing that it’s so. Regardless of how we got there, we’re there, staring the hard part in the face.
Hello, hard part.
Through the years there have been many different labels to this difficult time in the process. Author Seth Godin called it “The Dip.” Steven Pressfield termed it the “Resistance.” Ryan Holiday simply titles it “The Obstacle.” Whatever you want to name this difficult time, there it is, looking right at us.
What we call it isn’t important. What’s really important is what we decide to do about it.
Everyone does it, you know? Eventually, we all reach the same spot. It’s all balloons, cake and confetti when we start. Starting is easy. Starting is fun. Then it happens. The balloons all deflate, the cake’s all eaten and the confetti’s blown away in the wind. And here we are, left standing alongside all the other new business owners trying to figure out what the hell we’re supposed to do now. All of that “newness”, all that shine, all the excitement we generated coming out the gate is gone.
And now comes the hard part.
It’s too bad that we can’t be “just starting” forever. Exciting, unknown, new and intriguing. Everyone walks by the new store’s window and takes a peek, just to see what’s going on. Wow, it’s something new!” But soon, we’re yesterday’s news. Our clients are either running on to the next new thing or settling back into their old routine, going back to the same thing they were doing before we splashed onto the scene. And we’re left standing there, staring the hard part in the face.
And that’s where most of us stay. We rode the easy part as far as we could. It was fun while it lasted. We started our business, we had a good run, and then it got tough. And then we froze. We’re looking at the hard part and not really knowing what to do. Or, maybe we think we know what we should do, but we can’t bring ourselves to do it. Maybe we’re intimidated. Maybe we’re scared. Maybe we’ve failed at something before and don’t want to face that feeling again.
Maybe we just think that it’s going to be too hard, so we don’t even try. We’ve been here before. We’ve seen this movie and we already know how it’s going to end. Why should I even put myself through all this, when I already know I’m not gonna be able to do it? It’s so easy to let those self-defeating thoughts take control of our minds and run away with our dreams.
Trying is tough. Pushing against the hard part is difficult. It’s scary, and yes, it’s easy to see yourself failing. It’s so much easier to simply not try. Isn’t it obvious? If we don’t try, then we can’t fail! So, we sit there and do nothing. We come up with all kinds of reasons why we’re not successful.
That other business is doing something underhanded.
I can’t compete with their prices; they’re giving it away.
They’re all working together to keep me from getting any business.
We’re quick to come up with reasons why we’re not successful. That’s the easy part. Anyone can sit around and dream up reasons why their business isn’t making it. It doesn’t take much effort, just a few self-defeating thoughts and an active imagination. No difficulty required. All too often, we’re content to take the easy road.
Complaining is easy. Getting off your ass and doing something is hard. And none of us really likes the hard part.
But, if you stop for a moment and thing about it, we’ve really got it made. Our hard part is no where near as difficult as the hard part faced by the businesses that came before us. Imagine if you’d started your business 40 years ago, in the pre-internet days. No Google; no Amazon; no online education; no social media; no connection. No internet. Period. If you stop and think about it, it’s really hard to believe that there was a time when you couldn’t get the answer to almost any question you had within seconds from a device you hold in your hand.
The entire accumulated knowledge of mankind, right there in the palm of your hand.
Think of what it must’ve been like for those business owners. If they wanted to let people know they’d opened a new business, they didn’t have the option of just posting it. They had to reach out to advertisers and spend money to run an ad on TV, newspaper, radio, magazines or a billboard on the side of the road. No Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Google AdWords. If they wanted to run a sale, they’d do the same thing: spend money with the advertisers. It was unthinkable that we’d one day be able to write an email, hit a button and send it out to every previous client we’ve ever had!
If those business owners had a question about running a business, they’d either have to go to their local bookstore to buy a book about running a business (that was hopefully in stock) or they’d have to call around to see if they could find someone willing to help them (and hope that they were competent!) Now, we simply pull out our phone and type in our question. Instantly we’re presented with more information than we’d be able to read in a lifetime. If we do want to hire someone to help us, we can choose from thousands of options, with reviews and rankings right there on our screen.
We didn’t realize we had it so easy!
So, the point behind this whole article is that the knowledge is right there, more available than it’s ever been. And it’s just waiting for us to take advantage of it; waiting for us to show a little initiative. Those of us that do will have a tremendous advantage over those that don’t, those that are frozen, intimidated by the fear of failure, just sitting there staring the hard part in the face.
The only real hard part is figuring out what you don’t know. What changes can I make to be able to offer a better product? What have I been doing that’s not working? What has my competition been doing that’s working? Can I implement it into my business, but figure out a way to do it a little bit better than they are? What is it that my clients really need and how can I give it to them?
Eventually, we’ve all got to face the hard part. But until we realize that the real hard part is overcoming the roadblocks that we’ve placed in front of ourselves by doubting that we can really do it, we’re all just spinning our wheels.
Put the car in gear, drive right over those self-doubts and crash into the hard part. Soon, you’ll be looking at it in the rear view mirror, wondering what the hell you’ve been waiting for.
The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.Jordan Belfort
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