Last week I had drinks with a retired colonel from MacDill Air Force Base. This guy had been to 2 wars zones, Iraq and Afghanistan, three times. He had been inches away from grenades exploding and been literally shot at from 10 feet away. Fortunately, the bullets missed him. Many in his platoon were not that lucky.
He knew I was an entrepreneur. He’d been to my websites. This is what he said to me.
“Karen, you are so brave and courageous. I admire that so much. I don’t know that I could do that, be a front line entrepreneur like you. You’ve got to hustle business every day, be such a self-starter and operate with so much uncertainty”.
WOW, here’s a soldier who risked his life for our country, thinking I’m the tough one. At first I thought he was just flirting, but then I thought about it, and I suppose to many being an entrepreneur is pretty darn scary.
I’ve never seen it that way. Because of the way I’m wired and because of the values I formed from my life experiences.
The fact is we are both warriors, the military and the troops of entrepreneurs all across the world.
This was the theme of my program I presented today to Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference. It was my second year to participate and like last year the energy I got from the young entrepreneurs was amazing and inspirational.
My message to the audience was direct. There is no place like entrepreneur land. Owning your own business and being your own boss. Sure it’s tough, risky and uncertain, but then again so is walking down the street.
My bigger point to the group was, it’s not what hits you, but what you do next that counts.
My life as an entrepreneur has been an exciting and scary as hell roller coaster ride for nearly 30 years. Would I trade those experiences in for a 9-5 gig? No way. Cause at the end of the day, I’m driving the car. To me that’s the best way to go through life.
Bad and challenging stuff happens to the best of us. And if you’ve got your eye on a big prize, I guarantee you, your share will not be small. Most highly successful people actually encounter more bumps than those who achieve average results. There is a correlation between the volume of failure and magnitude of success.
And then comes my favorite saying: “What does not kill you, makes you stronger”.
Now for any of you who think I just write about this stuff and maybe have not had actual bouts with big boy challenges, here are just a few of my most memorable high stress, danger zones I’ve experienced first hand.
A 4 month tax audit, an investment in a venture that crashed and burned, an employee with a drinking problem, loss of a big client, three key employees quitting at once, a big company filed a trademark infringement that cost over $50,000 and me filing a time and money sucking law suit against an international celebrity to collect owed money. This is the short list. My point is any of these situations could have sent me to the 9-5 world, but they did not and I won the battle.
Here are 5 moves that keep me and my entrepreneurial dream alive.
1) Work from a plan. Even if it’s one page long.
I support this move by writing daily goals before I go to sleep at night for the next day.
I also track my time. This puts light on my waste so I can focus on result producing tasks..
I do daily rituals, every single day.
2) Master mental resiliency.
This is a work in progress, but I have gotten thicker skin through all of my life experiences.
Don’t hang on to screw ups, disappointments and failures. I shake things off like my black lab used to do when she got wet.
Learn the art of re-framing yucky situations into the good stepping stones that get you closer to what you want.
Know how to reboot and create your own momentum.
Be fit, mentally and physically.
3) Network up.
Hang out with people that are challenging you, not saying what you want to hear and sucking up to your mediocre bar.
Be a lifetime learner with folks that are smarter-than you.
Cut the dead wood off your growing dream. This means sometimes you’ll grow out of relationships.
5) Brand you and your business
They are both important and can contribute to your success.
Pick a lane. Decide what you are, do it well and in a unique fashion.
Resonate your identity on all of your touch points to your market (how you dress, act and communicate).
And in closing, I reminded the audience of the number one, most important thing an entrepreneur needs to succeed.
Full body confidence.
Stand tall, shoulders back and believe in yourself. You are your number one and most important fan! Breakthrough business stories have leveraged this powerful weapon for centuries. It is such a game changer.
Without a positive self image you may as well be burnt toast. So work on this daily. For me, I go for stuff that seems impossible. Walking on fire was a real booster for me. I also read my affirmations daily (you must write these before you can read them). I keep a victory folder (containing things that make me feel good, from notes, to press clips, to deposit receipts) and I monitor and read about people who inspire me and remind myself how human they are too.
You got the gear and the intelligence. Man up, even if you are a female.
My military friend may have had a valid point when he said that being an entrepreneur was such an admirable feat for the brave and courageous few.
I reminded him and the SEEC attendees that it’s all about the angle that you choose to look at the enemy and the prize.
Risk scares many, but to an entrepreneur it is the needed fuel for the greatest rewards.
Most think danger should be avoided, but to an entrepreneur it is a welcome and exciting adventure.
Being on your own appears to be such hard work and so difficult, not for an entrepreneur who chooses something they love to do.
As free Americans who live in a capitalist society the power to transform uncertainty into clarity is in our reach.
Entrepreneurs make your move.