You’ve always had that tingling feeling, right?
You’ve had a 9 to 5 job, but in the back of your mind you know it’s not for you. You’ve always known that you wanted to be an entrepreneur.
You’ve always wanted to create your own business.
And you know it won’t be easy.
You can’t help it. You have to try. Just do it.
But seriously, what is it that makes some entrepreneurs so successful?
There must be more to it than the tactics and tips. It’s something so fundamental. When you know and internalize it, you just become successful.
Here is how I got to know what it was. These are the steps you need to take.
Have a business idea.
About a year ago I had a great idea. And this idea would make millions if I succeeded.
I have many Hi-Pop artist friends who release albums and there are countless others whose sole problem is getting paid for their gigs and albums. My idea was to create an online micro-crowdfunding platform where fans would pay small amounts of money to their favorite artists.
It’s a real problem. And a real business. I was excited.
I had my doubts. What if I failed?
After talking to a few friends, I decided to go forward with the idea. I took the risk, aimed high, and went 100% all in.
I partnered up with T.J, who is a good businessman. I am a good coder. Together we made a good team.
Create a business.
Diving straight in, we announced that the service would be available soon. We talked to artists and they actually started signing up to our mailing list.
Artists were excited about this and even promised to let their fans know as soon as the platform was ready.
When I saw the enthusiasm of the artists we talked to, I felt that we were really up to something. I was humbled and excited to get support from all these people.
If every artist told their fans on all social networks, we were sure that a small percentage of them would be happy to fund their favorite artist.
Bootstrap the product.
After 3 months of sleepless nights, coding as much as I could, our MVP (minimum viable product) was ready.
Users could sign up as “artist” or “fan.” An artist could create a public project. A fan could fund an artist.
I felt happy to see this first part through and exhausted at the same time. Going back and forth with tiny endless changes had sucked all energy out of me.
It was really hard to get to this point.
Little did I know…that was the easy part!
Keep eyes open for trouble.
Now that we had the web application ready, we had to make sure that the business side of the project worked well.
The bank accounts, the company name, the accounting, the email support…the list was long!
My eyes stopped at the section concerning the law.
You can imagine the sudden shiver that went through my spine. I slowly sat down, and words came out of my mouth, “F***, why didn’t I think of this before?”
How could I have missed it?
There were lots of legal, financial and fiscal issues surrounding crowdfunding that needed to be addressed!
After further research about micro-crowdfunding, I learned that the platforms can be used to launder money.
Put simply, some people create both accounts for “fans” and “artists.” They then use stolen credit cards to fund themselves as artists. If they used our platform, we could be sued as accomplices.
There was no way I could do this alone. I needed a team. And I would have to pay them.
We spoke to a few investors but they all wanted to see traction first.
I could not ship a half-baked application which could be used to launder money!
And we also had to take care of the legal part.
Hit rock bottom. Hard.
I started to question everything. Was this a great idea in the first place?
I had spent sleepless nights to get every single part of the application working.
And I just realized I had nothing.
Not to mention that I had lost money in the process.
I couldn’t keep throwing money at this project.
I was done.
Close the curtains. Game over.
I gave up.
Be open to the revelation.
A few days later, I had lunch with a very good friend who I consider a mentor.
I told him about what had happened…the whole story.
He listened carefully and spoke to me with truth:
“You should have started by creating a community rather than creating an online software solution.”
“If you were really passionate about what you were creating, you would have found a way no matter how hard the problems.”
“To be completely honest with you, you’re looking at the wrong problem.”
“If you don’t want to repeat the mistakes you made in the past you have to look at the root of the problem.”
“All this started with you wanting to create something of your own while helping a community. What you did was a reflection of your mind. The solution you created and the way you went about resolving the problem you saw came from who you are and the vision you had in your mind.”
“You proposed a solution that you were comfortable creating, but was not necessarily the best way it could solve problems from an artist’s perspective.”
The real problem is YOU.
Many entrepreneurs focus on what they have to do to succeed. The successful ones understand that you must have a deep, true, and objective understanding of who you are. When you have this, you can master fear and you know what direction to take.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. – Lao Tzu1
Master yourself: mind and body.
‘Self mastery’ is the secret that every one of us should dedicate time to every single day!
I didn’t fail. It took me three months to learn one of the deepest success concepts.
When I master myself, I choose only ideas that deeply matter to me.
When I master myself, I will do work I’m comfortable doing (i.e., programming), and I will also do great work, because I’ll go beyond my comfort zone.
When you master yourself you commit to being the best you can ever be.
If it was something that I really committed myself to, I don’t think there’s anything that could stop me becoming President of the United States. – Will Smith
Your entrepreneurial endeavors are a result of how well you master yourself.
Do you know yourself so well that you use your strengths?
Can you accept help where you know you are weak?
Self Mastery starts with awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Intuitively, you know the areas of your life that you need to master. Begin there.
Let me share with you what I did and where I started.
Thoughts: keep your story positive.
I completely changed the way I used to talk to myself and about myself.
I used to say things like, “Alain, you fool, f*** m*** f***! Why didn’t you think of this? You are so stupid!”
Then I remembered seeing a video where Maya Angelou said that words are things.
Insulting myself or others is not only bad, it sends out curses.
Why on earth would I literally wish myself bad things, as opposed to blessings (wishing beautiful things to everyone including myself)? Whether those words are spoken or come as thoughts, I now monitor them.
The story inside your mind matters a lot.
Let me open up again and tell you this: I always create my own positive stories even if reality is different.
Sounds a little crazy, right?
Well, I am not the only one. Check out this TED Talk by Dr. Ivan Joseph.
It turns out, smart and successful people always reframe the context to see only the positive outcome.
The past no longer exists, so stop thinking about what could have been; there is nothing you can do about it. The future isn’t here and doesn’t yet exist; it is your mind’s projection. If you want to wander in the future, make up a positive story about wonderful things that will happen to you and people you love.
I now focus on who I am as well as on my strengths. I don’t shy away asking for help when I need it.
Emotions: Manage them to deal with anger and fear.
I have to admit, it took me a long time to get real with emotions. Ultimately, women are better than men in this field.
Let me share with you how I got a deeper understanding of emotions.
You need to control your emotions or they will use you. – Les Brown
For some reason, when the word “emotion” hit my ears, I could imagine tears and love.
But not anger nor fear!
Anger is an emotion and when you don’t stop that emotion when it starts growing inside yourself, it can take huge proportions and damage. In the end you might end up saying sorry for what you said or what you did, but doesn’t it feel like you were possessed? It definitely feels out of control.
Commit to not step into anger. Stop. Breathe. Think.
Ask yourself if it’s worth it. It’s not going to be easy at first, but if you make it a habit, soon you will see that you can control it.
Remember in Will Smith’s film “After Earth,” when he asks his confused son Katai to take a knee – “Take a knee, cadet!”
I’ll break down what it means to take a knee, where you control emotion overload.
You put your body in a grounded position.
You analyze the situation.
You objectively find out your options.
Then you take proper action based on facts. Real facts.
In the same movie, we learn that fear is a choice, a product of our imagination. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts.
Actions: Empower them with the right emotions.
Actions are a result of thoughts + emotions.
A lot of what we do are habits.
Let’s agree on this: you can’t possibly do the right actions if your emotions and thoughts are all over the place.
If you have successfully re-programmed yourself to use positive thoughts and emotions, you’re on your way to doing good one day and better in the days that follow.
It is easy for entrepreneurs to jump into creation. When we don’t understand that the actions we take are determined by our emotions, feelings, and thoughts, we are merely fooling ourselves.
This is why you have to master yourself.
Success in business in determined mostly by how consistently you do something well. If your emotions, feelings, thoughts, and actions aren’t consistent, how can you think that you’ll ever be successful?
Question: what’s something Will Smith, P. Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z have in common?
CONSISTENCY AND COMMITMENT.
All we see are actions. When we look at an iceberg, we only see 1/10th. The deeper unseen 9/10th are emotions and thoughts. You can bet that these guys master their emotions and thoughts. They have successful, with different products and performances, over and over again for years. What is unchanged is their commitment and consistency to how they’re doing.
When your actions are grounded in commitment, you can only succeed.
Day in and day out, do what you love.
Do great work no matter how you feel because that is where your thoughts and emotions and have led you to. Plus, its fun and you enjoy it.
You can’t imagine how much this way of thinking and doing has profoundly changed my life.
I now think more about things I enjoy and love and where I envision myself doing excellent work and taking the right responsibilities, leaving what I’m not good at to someone else.
As a consequence, I speak kind words, I do great work, I do interesting things, and I meet interesting people.
I choose to work on ideas which deeply matter to me.
Doors open up with smiles as I put forward my strengths.
As I help people as much I can, I get the same in return.
It’s not an easy journey, and it is my first step toward success.
Let me know in the comments how you plan to master yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions. Is there anything you can add here which could help you understand this concept in your own life achievements?
Image credit: CC by Colored Vinyl Records