Jun 052017
 
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Risk-taking As An Entrepreneur – Are You Free Soloing?

How do you view the risk-taking that you do as an entrepreneur?

Do you feel like it is “all you” and any mistake you make could cost you your business and your financial future? Or, do you feel as though you’ve hedged your most important risks and built a support system that would act as a safety net to help you get through the inevitable mistakes that happen?

Yesterday, news surfaced that Alex Honnold had accomplished one of the greatest – and some would say most risky – climbing feats in history. He did a “free solo” climb of the almost 3,000-foot granite wall know as “El Capitan” in Yosemite National Park, in just under four hours! Free soloing means that he did the climb without the support of ropes or other climbing safety devices and without the help of other climbers.

It was just him, his climbing shoes and a bag of chalk hanging from his waste to help keep his hands dry.

How is that for risk-taking?

To the uninitiated, and to those unaware of the incredible climbing prowess and other free solo feats of Alex Honnold, such an accomplishment would sound unfathomable. Never mind the fact that it’s hard to wrap your head around someone having the physical ability to accomplish such a climb, but what about the nerves and fear that must creep into someone’s mind when they’re a couple thousand feet above the ground, climbing a granite rock face, with no safety gear?

Wouldn’t such a situation cause the mind to get caught in an endless loop of the worse-case scenario and freeze up like a late 80’s PC?

In Alex Honnold’s case, at least, the fear did not paralyze him and he was able to continue all the way to the top and accomplish a goal he’s had since he was a child. For him, the focus was not on risk-taking. Rather, the focus was on what he needed to do to reach his goal and accomplish perhaps (probably) the greatest feat climbing has ever seen and likely will ever see.

So, how did he control his thoughts and fears and how does such risk-taking map to what we as entrepreneurs have to navigate on an ongoing basis?

First, you have to say that on the surface, it’s difficult to compare the two, because unlike Alex Honnold’s free solo conquest of El Capitan, our activities on a daily basis as entrepreneurs are rarely, if ever, life or death. If we make a mistake as entrepreneurs, it’s unlikely that we will suffer the unforgiving nature of the laws of gravity, as Alex surely would.

Second, in our role as entrepreneurs, it’s unusual that we’ll be in a circumstance where we even figuratively speaking we have no safety net in place. Usually, in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, we design hedges and other safety valves in our financial, operational and marketing activities that allow us to avoid ‘bet the company’ decisions. This is not always true, of course, and sometimes through lack of planning or just simple bad luck, crises arrive or other situations occur that can put a company out of business. But, it’s rare that we consciously say, I’m going to bet the company on this decision, and in order to make it more challenging and more interesting, I’m going to purposely avoid hedging my bets, which is what Alex did with his free solo of “El Cap” and many other challenging rock faces previously.

Third, in addition to putting hedges in place, we usually have a strong support network that we build up over time as entrepreneurs and call on as needed when issues arise. If we don’t have such a network in place, we’re typically aware we should and work to build one over time.

So, if we’re typically not operating completely without a net in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, as Alex does in his free solo climbing conquests, how is what he does relevant to us as entrepreneurs?

Alex’s free solo climbs speak to a few things that are paramount to being successful as entrepreneurs: 1.) Being committed to what we’re doing, to the point where (figuratively, at least) we’d put our life on the line to reach our goals; 2.) Being prepared, so that we maximize our chances of success, even if what we’re trying to accomplish seems crazy to others; and 3.) Being focused exclusively on the task at hand, not allowing outside distractions to dilute our efforts as we strive to realize the vision that we have for our lives and our entrepreneurial ventures.

In terms of being committed, Alex Honnold has proven time and again that he is willing to put his life on the line to reach his free solo climbing goals. He doesn’t just talk about going out there and doing these climbs that heretofore were considered impossible. He goes out there and makes it happen. How committed are you to doing whatever it takes to make your entrepreneurial endeavor(s) succeed?

In terms of being prepared, Alex Honnold has worked his whole life to reach the point where he could free solo El Capitan. He’s honed his craft on safer, roped ascents. He’s spent countless hours preparing his body physically to withstand the fatigue that is sure to set in on such an endeavor. He’s scouted El Capitan and rehearsed in detail the climbing moves he’d have to make, particularly in the most challenging areas of the climb. He’s free soloed lesser, but still challenging other rock faces to prepare his mind and his body for the stress that comes with climbing “without a net”. This list goes on and on of the preparation Alex has done to maximize the odds that he could safely accomplish his objective. How would your business look if you did a similar level of preparation?

In terms of being focused, Alex knows that when he’s on a rock face with no safety equipment to catch him in case of a mistake, he must be 100% focused on the task at hand. In his case, that focus is quite literally a matter of life or death. How focused are you when you are involved in the key activities you know are vital to the success of your business? If you could be completely focused as Alex must be, how much further could you go as an entrepreneur?

Well, congratulations to Alex Honnold on his extraordinary feat of free soloing El Capitan. Here’s to learning the lessons of commitment, preparation and focus that Alex has modeled before and during this amazing accomplishment, and putting those to work in improving the odds of success in the risk-taking we encounter as entrepreneurs!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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May 042017
 
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So You Want To Start A Business

Ok, so you’ve made the decision that you want to start a business. That’s great! Congratulations! Being an entrepreneur and living the “startup life” can be great! It can also, however, be extremely challenging at times, so you’ll want to make sure that it is the right decision for you.

Since starting a business is a decision that some people learn to regret, I want to encourage you to ask yourself three very important questions before you take the plunge. There are many more questions you should being asking before starting a business, of course, but these are three critical ones:

 

Why do I want to start a business?

There is a variety of reasons to start your own business. Maybe you are tired of working for and lining the pockets of others. Maybe you believe that being your own boss will be less work, or at least if you do have to work hard, you’ll be working for your own account. Maybe you’ve seen others enjoy extraordinary success as entrepreneurs and you’d like in on that action. The list could go on and on, but let’s address the reasons above, for starters.

Being tired of working for others can be a great motivator! Just realize that even if you don’t have a direct boss as an entrepreneur, there will always be people you are “working for,” including, and especially, your customers. Depending on the industry you’re entering, the level of competition and how demanding your customers are, you may find out that sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are your own boss, even if you own the business!

We won’t spend much time here on the idea of being an entrepreneur as being less work than working for others – it’s not! It starts and ends with you, so you are “on” 24/7. As an entrepreneur, you will likely find it very difficult to get mental health time to just relax and rejuvenate.

What if you’ve seen others be very successful, perhaps in a short period of time and you want to get in on that? Some entrepreneurs do reach extraordinary levels of wealth and success, but realize that usually those who appear to have gotten there quickly have most likely been at it, usually with a history of learning through mistakes, for a long period of time! There are very few instant successes in entrepreneurship!

 

What is my commitment level to the startup I’m about to create?

Following on what I said above about there being few instant successes in startups and entrepreneurship, realize that you are most likely in for a marathon, not a sprint! That’s true even if you feel like you’re running so quickly most of the time that it’s hard to catch your breath!

So, I ask again, what’s your commitment level to the business that you’re considering starting? Is it something that you can picture yourself doing, day and night, for many years to come? Could you be happy over a long period of time working in the business you’re looking at starting? If not, I’d strongly encourage you to rethink whether it’s the right business for you!

 

Is there an exit strategy for the company I am creating?

No matter how much you think you’ll love your startup and the business as it grows, at some point you are going to want to or have to get out of it – you will have to make an exit.

Is there a potential exit strategy for the business you are starting, or will you “be the business”? It’s not necessarily a non-starter if you can’t see a clear exit from your business for the get-go, but I can tell you from experience that it will become a lot more relevant as time goes on!

Some of the potential exit strategies would include selling your business to a third party buyer, or to employees, or even to your family members. In very few cases, you may also be able to take the company public or find other ways to refinance it to achieve some level of liquidity. However you think you may be able to exit the business, other than simply shutting it down and selling the assets, if any, for pennies on the dollar, you’ll want to consider that ahead of starting the business and factor that into your decision on whether it’s the right business for you to start.

Consider the questions above and other factors that are relevant to you, before you start your business! Be thoughtful in the startup process and you’ll greatly increase your chances of starting and building a business that will meet your financial needs, and equally important, allow you to be happy over the years to come.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jan 272013
 
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more learning acceleration

14 More Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

Hopefully, the first seven ways to accelerate your learning and progress were helpful.  Here are fourteen more to help you build and maintain momentum in pursuit of your dreams and objectives.

1.     Conquer performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks.  If the anxiety is extreme, you may not be able to perform at all.  There are techniques for overcoming performance anxiety.  Figure out what works for you and use it religiously.  Seriously, relax!  You’re good.  You just need to believe in yourself and not worry what others think!  It’s easier said than done; I know.

2.     Push beyond.

Any weight lifter will tell you that they’ve achieved their most impressive gains when they’ve been willing to push beyond the point they thought they could handle.  That is, the point of pain, effort, belief, willpower, etc.  When you’re doing “easy repetitions,” whether in weightlifting, another sport, or most any endeavor, you are not making progress.  The progress is made at the margin, where you’re willing to push beyond the norm.

3.     Forget the critics.

Don’t worry about what the critics have to say.  If you want, you can take whatever is useful to you from their commentary.  If not, then ignore them altogether.  Their mission is not to make you successful; rather, it’s to tear you down, so you can be miserable like them.  Don’t buy into that game.  If you ever need inspiration in this regard, turn to one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Citizenship in a Republic, a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France (23 April 1910).

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

4.     Choose tougher opponents.

Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and take on tougher opponents.  Regardless of your endeavor, if you want to stay in the shallow end and play the weaker opponents, you may have fun and boost your ego, but you will never get better.  The way to get better is to choose tougher opponents and be willing to lose sometimes (or a lot in the beginning).  Then, learn from your mistakes and keep upping your game.  If you’re never (or rarely) losing, you’re not pushing yourself enough by playing against tough competition.

5.     Set goals correctly.

Not everyone believes in goal setting.  In my experience and observation, goal setting can work well, particularly if goals are set correctlyThis involves ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.  If you are going through the work of setting goals, do yourself a favor and don’t make them so general that they’re not meaningful.  Also, make sure you have a big enough “why” (why are you going after these goals?), so that when you run into challenges, you’ll be able to summon the energy and perseverance to press on.

6.     Make sure you’re committed.

If you’re not committed to achieving your goals and dreams, no one else is going to be committed for you!  The responsibility rests on your shoulders.  You must take the bull by the horns and make it happen.  Ask yourself the question:  Am I interested or committed?  If you find that you’re just interested, that’s acceptable for entertainment purposes, but not for serious goals.  In order to take on a big goal or task, you must be committed, or the likelihood you will make it happen decreases significantly.

7.     Be bold.

As the Latin proverb goes, “Fortune favors the bold”.  When you are trying to achieve something, especially something extraordinary or “great,” you do yourself no favors by being timid.  Be bold.  Be willing to stand out from the crowd.  This may be completely out of character for some, especially the introverts among us, but trust me, you’ll be shocked by how much more you can get accomplished by being bold.  When you are bold, it works not just to convince others, but also yourself, of your conviction.

8.     Overcome perfectionism.

The more I live, the more I realize that perfectionism truly is the enemy of most accomplishment!  Perfectionism can cause us to do nothing.  Perfectionism can cause us to sweat unimportant details and not see the forest through the trees.  Perfectionism can cause us to beat ourselves up needlessly and get into a negative state of mind for no good reason.  I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life and it has been more apparent in certain areas of life than others.  It’s only when I’ve been able to give myself “a break” that I’ve been able to perform at my best in a variety of endeavors.  Performing well without the pressure of being “perfect” (virtually impossible in almost all endeavors) is much easier.  Give yourself a break and give it a try!

9.     Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is caused, at least in part, by perfectionism.  We don’t get started because we don’t want to fail, with “failure” being defined as anything less than perfection.  With such unrealistic expectations, it’s no wonder that so many people procrastinate.  It is a source of frustration for many.  There are ways to overcome procrastination.  I suggest you study up on them and give yourself the knowledge and confidence to overcome your tendency to put things off, seemingly indefinitely sometimes.

10.  Overcome your fears.

Fears can immobilize us!  Fears, whether founded or not, can cause us to perform poorly in a whole host of situations.  It’s important to learn how to overcome your fears, so you can perform at your best as much as possible.  There are proven techniques for overcoming your fears, or at least lessening the impact of the “fear response” in key situations.  We all have fears, whether or not we’re willing to admit them.  If we want to accelerate our learning and our ability to make progress in our endeavors, we must understand how to conquer our fears.

11.  Understand the key requirements.

In order to accelerate your learning and progress, you must make an effort to understand the key requirements for success in your chosen endeavor!  There is almost never a good reason to reinvent the wheel.  In all likelihood, unless you’re doing something extremely cutting edge, there are other successful people in whose path you may follow.  Work with a coach, other subject matter expert, or mentor to first understand what you will need to have and do in order to be successful.  Only then can you take the most efficient route to success in your endeavor.

12.  Believe.

Strong belief can overcome shortcomings in many key areas.  No matter how difficult the road becomes, your job as an achiever is to continue to believe that you can be successful!  Such belief will give you energy where you thought you had none and it will allow you to tap the enormous reserve of willpower that we all have as human beings.  Without belief, little is possible.  With belief, almost anything is possible.

13.  Tap your will to succeed.

Find ways to tap your will to succeed.  We’re all different, so not all things that work for you may work for the next person.  But there are techniques you can find and develop on your own that will allow you to tap your willpower as needed.  In my experience, it’s helpful to have an inventory of inspirational people and stories in your mind, so that when the going gets tough, you’re able to call on those memories in order to get yourself to push on.  They can be memories from your past, or inspirational stories you’ve read or heard about.  I have used this technique to push far beyond where I thought I could go, both mentally and physically, in a number of very challenging situations.

14.  Plan, even if just a little.

Some of us have a tendency to “wing it” a bit more than we should.  I know that there was a time that I fell into that category.  It tends to come with the territory when you’re not suffering from a shortage of confidence – you believe that whatever challenge may arise, you’ll overcome it and attain your objectives.  With age and maturity, I have learned that even if you do just a little planning, often times the outcome far exceeds what you likely could have pulled off by “winging it”.  Don’t plan to the point of analysis paralysis, but put in some time to lay out the steps you expect will be necessary to achieve your objectives.  Don’t be surprised if you have to course-correct several times on the fly, but that’s OK!  As one of my mentors liked to say, “you should have a powerful plan that can change”.  Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it provide you with at least a rough road map to where you’re trying to go.

I hope you will put these ideas to use and they will help you to accelerate your learning and progress in your endeavors!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Oct 302011
 
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Interested or Committed?

Are You Interested Or Are You Committed?

I was involved in a training last week where Trusted Authority Formula (TAF) guru Greg Habstritt brought in several luminaries to speak, as part of the run-up to his latest launch of TAF.  One of the speakers was John Assaraf from The Secret.  He asked the question, “Are you interested or are you committed”?  This question really resonated with me!  The more I thought about it, the more I began to believe that the answer to this question is at the core of most success and failure.

In the age of “short attention span theater” and “shiny object syndrome,” there is an epidemic of interest and a critical shortage of commitment!  I see it everywhere I look.  Parents who teach their kids to be interested in ten sports, but committed to none.  Entrepreneurs interested in starting five businesses, but truly committed to none.  Politicians interested in helping their country be more competitive in several different economic areas, but committed to none.  The list goes on and on.

Are you interested, or are you committed?

How do you know the difference?  Why does it matter?  I’ll touch on a few differences here, but I intend to look at this in much more detail and communicate with you about it much more.  In fact, I’m committed to do so!

Here are seven of the key differences between being interested and being committed.

1.)   If you are interested, you show up sometimes.  If you are committed, you show up all the time.

2.)   If you are interested, when things get tough, you give up and move on to your next “interest”.  If you are committed, no matter how tough things get, you find a way over, under, around or through obstacles.

3.)   If you are interested, you dabble in a bunch of interests.  If you are committed, you concentrate your energy on achieving a much shorter list of objectives.  In short, you focus.

4.)   If you are interested, you are easily distracted and often fall victim to shiny object syndrome.  If you are committed, you are so focused that you often don’t even notice the irrelevant shiny objects around you.

5.)   If you are interested, you don’t set goals; rather, you just let it happen.  If you are committed, you set goals in a way that maximizes the probability you will achieve them, and you regularly monitor your progress.  You use the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting.

6.)   If you are interested, you let the fear of failure and other fears keep you from achieving your objectives.  If you are committed, you realize that every “failure” is just another step in the direction of achieving your goals.

7.)   If you are interested, you allow perfectionism to inhibit your progress, working hand-in-hand with fear of failure to limit your success.  If you are committed, you understand that perfectionism is the enemy and you continue to make forward progress, even if each step is not perfect.

Ask yourself, “Am I committed, or am I just interested”? If the answer comes back, “I’m not sure,” or “I’m just interested,” then unless it’s a hobby that you can dabble in and take lightly, you need to reconsider where you are focusing your energy.  As a friend once said to me, dabbling is a root cause of failure.  You cannot afford to dabble or just be interested in the people and activities that are truly important in your life.  Interest will usually get you nowhere.  Commitment, on the other hand, has a much higher probability of delivering you the results you are seeking.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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