What does it take to succeed in business?
Why do some people succeed in business, while others stutter, stumble and fail?
Think about it for a moment.
Successful entrepreneurs come in all forms, shapes and sizes. They don’t particularly fall into any specific categories that make them special.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common categories:
Let’s look at Religion. There are successful entrepreneurs in every faith on earth. You will find successful entrepreneurs who are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Animists, and Atheists; yes, even people who don’t believe in the existence of a god have become successful entrepreneurs too.
So, it cannot be religion.
Education? Well, several of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs dropped out of school. Some of them didn’t even go to school at all. And there are also a number of MBAs and PhDs who are very successful entrepreneurs too.
From the evidence, it appears education is not the edge that makes people succeed in business.
What about race, and the colour of your skin? Well, every race on earth has its fair share of successful entrepreneurs and that includes the poorest places on earth. Recent studies reveal that Africa now has over 160,000 millionaires.
So, it cannot be race.
What about physical attributes; your age, height, weight, the way you look and the language you speak?
Well, this doesn’t matter at all too. In fact, successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes: tall, short, old, young, beautiful, ‘not-so-beautiful’, extroverted, introverted, cool, annoying et cetera. The whole works!
So, becoming successful in business has nothing to do with your age or physical attributes.
Then, what really makes the difference between successful entrepreneurs and the rest of the world?
The truth is, the key secrets to success in business are not quite visible to the naked eye. You have to look a little closer to notice the difference. You have to look under the hood to discover these secrets.
These secrets live in the mind.
Through my work with entrepreneurs, I have found that up to 80 percent of the factors that significantly increase our chances of becoming successful in business are psychological.
That’s why a healthy, strong and ultra-positive mind is the most powerful asset you will ever have.
Sadly, not everyone’s mind works this way. And that’s because most of us have serious psychological roadblocks that withhold, frustrate, and torment our dreams of becoming entrepreneurs or succeeding in business.
I call them demons. Of course, I don’t mean this in any spiritual or literal sense. ?
All of us have these demons, including me. It’s just that successful entrepreneurs have found a way to suppress the power and effects of their inner demons.
In the rest of this article, I’ll identify the top 7 inner demons you must defeat if you want to unlock all the roadblocks that are standing between you and business success.
Ready? Let’s go!
Fear is the biggest demon of all. It’s not the most dangerous demon, but it’s the most common demon that afflicts people who want to start a business and become entrepreneurs.
But why is fear so common? Why does it exist?
The fact is, fear exists because of uncertainty. The less we know about the outcome of something, the more afraid we are. That’s why the fear of failure is the biggest fear of all when it comes to starting a business.
The fear of failure is so powerful and domineering that more than 95 percent of people who have brilliant business ideas cannot act on these ideas because they’re too afraid to fail.
Are you one of these people?
The truth is, successful entrepreneurs get afraid too. The difference: they don’t let the fear stop them.
I felt that fear when I quit my job and a steady salary to pursue my business dreams. I had a 4-month old baby and my wife wasn’t working at the time. Although I had faith in my business dreams, the fear of failure scared the life out of me.
So, I know how very powerful fear can be.
What we often do not realise is that fear can be conquered. And one of the best weapons against fear is action.
When you’re bold and take positive action in the face of fear, you put yourself in control of the situation and fear will almost always take a backseat.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
Another potent weapon against fear is to accept the possibility of failure. Yes, you read that right.
All our lives, we have been taught that failing is a bad thing. You know what? That’s a very big lie!
What most people don’t realise is that failure is your friend, and not the enemy. Even success cannot teach you the invaluable lessons that failure will teach you, and every successful entrepreneur knows this.
Most of the secrets that successful entrepreneurs use are learned from failure. That’s why even after they have done their homework, successful people still accept failure as an option. Because they know that when they fail, they learn. And as they learn, they grow and succeed.
From the moment you accept failure as an option on your business journey, your fear will melt away and you will conquer it.
I love to describe perfection as a deadly demon that disguises itself in pretty clothes. ?
When it comes to business and entrepreneurship, getting started is always better than being perfect.
If you continue to look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. Leo Tolstoy
Look at it this way. Starting a business is like learning to walk.
When you were a baby, you didn’t have to wait until the perfect time, and then suddenly start to walk. No. Most babies start by crawling, and then they learn to stand, and then make several attempts to walk.
The first time they walk, it’s not perfect. Most babies stumble and fall, but they always stand up again because they know that every new attempt they make brings them closer to the goal.
This, my friend, is how life, nature and business works.
Sadly, most people want to check all the boxes before they start a business. They want to raise enough capital to rent an office, hire staff and build a great looking website. They want to start at the perfect time. They want to start big, or not start at all.
And this is why the demon of perfection is so cunning. It actually gives you the impression that it’s working in your favour. It convinces you that a perfect start is the best way to start.
Not at all. It’s a scam. There will never be a perfect time. The key to defeating perfection is to start where you are, use what you have and do what you can… right now!
If you ask me, I think the demon of unworthiness lives in the ear. It’s the one that tells you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed in business.
Have you ever felt like you don’t have enough talent, education, experience, connections, risk-appetite or luck to become an entrepreneur?
That’s the power of unworthiness at work!
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. Henry Ford
The job of this demon is to convince you that your true value is discounted. Its job is to make you feel inferior to yourself.
Unfortunately, most people buy this big fat lie, and that’s why they never come around to becoming entrepreneurs.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, successful entrepreneurs come from all kinds of backgrounds. Your level of education, family background and physical qualities don’t matter. What really matters is your belief in yourself.
Stop listening to that silly demon. Nobody has the right to tell you that you’re unworthy, except yourself.
Only you can decide to be worthy of entrepreneurship.
4. LOW BOUNCE
Successful entrepreneurs have a high bounce. What I mean is, they always bounce back up whenever they hit the ground.
Disappointments, problems and challenges are normal in entrepreneurship. In fact, you should anticipate them if you’re starting or running a business.
But always remember that when setbacks bring you down, it’s only temporary. Your job is to get back up, and not just stay defeated on the ground.
It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. Babe Ruth
Most people make excuses that they started a business before and failed. That’s their lifetime excuse for not trying again.
Personally, I have started five businesses that failed, including two investments in the stock market and currencies that totally flopped. It’s difficult to start a business again after you have lost money with a previous one. I know.
But successful entrepreneurs don’t give up; they bounce back.
The demon of low bounce convinces you to stay on the ground because if you get back up, you could fall again. That’s what makes the difference between one person who stops trying to raise capital because he was turned down twice, and another person who continues to knock on doors until she gets what she wants, despite several disappointments.
To survive in business, you need to learn to bounce back. In business, you may lose some battles, but the key is to never lose the war.
5. LACK OF BELIEF
Starting and running a business is tough, especially in Africa. Only people with a strong and positive mindset can survive the rough seas of entrepreneurship.
By belief, I don’t mean you must belong to any religion. Not at all. What I mean is that you need to have such a strong belief in your idea and abilities that you will endure every challenge that comes your way to see it succeed.
Success belongs to those who believe in their dreams. Anon
It’s easy to notice when people lack belief in their ideas and abilities. They don’t talk with confidence and energy, and you can’t see the fire of passion burning in their eyes. They always fail to convince.
I have a friend who has a very strong passion and belief in the solar business. He has made huge sacrifices to make his business grow that he has invested everything he has into this business. The last time we spoke, he told me he has bet everything on his idea, and there’s no going back.
That’s the way belief manifests itself.
So, the question is: how far are you really willing to go to fulfil your business dream?
A strong belief in the vision and potential of a business is one of the key things investors look for in an entrepreneur before they invest their money. Nobody will give you their money if you’re not hungry for success.
People with myopia want a business that can start making money in just a few days or months. While this is not impossible, it’s definitely not the norm.
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it. Arnold H. Glasow
Starting and growing a business is a marathon, and not a sprint. It’s usually a race of endurance and not speed. People who are inflicted by myopia want to start a business and get quick results.
Unless you win the lottery or come into a huge inheritance, there are very few legal ways to make money overnight. The myopia demon blinds you to the long term prospects of your business and focuses you on immediate results.
As a result, people take business loans they don’t need and try to expand the business faster than they should. All in a bid to get quick results.
Myopia is a blinding demon. Remember, success in business is a long-distance race.
Beware of procrastination. This demon is the most dangerous of all.
Procrastination is very deadly because it robs you of a resource that you can never replace. That resource is time. And time lost, can never be regained.
Procrastination makes you feel like you have a lot of time. Which is why we continue to delay, defer, postpone and avoid taking action on our business dreams. And this is what gives this demon its powerful effects.
Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. Victor Kiam
In order to defeat procrastination, we first need to understand why we easily embrace it.
There are usually three reasons why we procrastinate.
The first reason we procrastinate is when we’re afraid to take action or make a decision. Because we do not want to confront our fears, we simply avoid the decision or action and push it forward into the future.
The second reason we procrastinate is when we’re stuck in a comfort zone. Because we don’t want to disturb our comfort, we defer taking action until sometime in the future.
The third reason is laziness. If a decision or action means we have to do some hardwork to achieve our goals, we often just postpone till a later date.
The key to defeating procrastination is to always have a sense of urgency. You must give a deadline to everything you must do, and then do it! Unless you set a deadline for the important decisions and actions in your life, procrastination will always show up to steal your time.
I personally lost two and a half years of my life to procrastination. All I had to do was quit that job and focus on pursuing my business dreams. But because I was stuck in a comfort zone, I kept on avoiding the action. I was finally able to take the leap after I set a firm deadline.
Just do it! That’s the best way to avoid procrastination.
In this article, I’ve shared with you some of the most deadly inner demons you must conquer to start and succeed in business.
Don’t forget, while fear is the biggest and the most common demon, procrastination is the most dangerous because it steals away the most precious resource you have, which is time.
Now that you know what these demons are, I want you to do something right now. Yes, right now.
In the Comments section below, tell me which 3 of these demons are your biggest problems.
Yes, write it in the Comments section now. Don’t procrastinate!
John-Paul Iwuoha is an impact entrepreneur, SME Business Coach, and founder of Smallstarter Africa. He works with entrepreneurs and investors to start up and grow businesses in Africa. He is also the co-author of ‘101 Ways To Make Money in Africa’, the widely-acclaimed book which reveals several interesting business ideas, market opportunities, and inspiring entrepreneur success stories across Africa. For the latest updates on business and entrepreneurship across Africa, follow Smallstarter on Twitter, @smallstarters