People will say most businesses fail for many different reasons; from being under-capitalized to bad partnerships or to lack of planning, all of these are valid reasons why someone could fail in business. However, I do not believe any are the real reason someone truly fails. While all these hardships may add up and when put together can lead to someone quitting and failing, I believe that deep inside there is only one reason and that reason is: lack of progress.
We work a 9-5 only to realize we are not moving fast enough towards our goals, regardless that it’s greed or simply discontent with where we are. We look at self-employment as an opportunity to take control of our monetary situation and create the outcomes we desire, rather than the ones we are told to create or have allowed others to create for us.
Once we move forward past the stage of control, comfort, and routine, we are left in a limitless world with a blank canvas to paint. The part most people seem to forget, is that while the world in front of us is a blank canvas for us to paint on, there is no one out there to hand us a brush, tell us where to paint, how to paint, or even what to paint. So while self-employment is attractive at first as you are full of energy and excitement, that energy tends to die if “progress” isn’t found.
In a recent interview with Andy Frisella, Secret Entourage Entrepreneur of The Year 2014, he gave me a piece of advice that I felt was very real for our audience, he said, “If you do anything long enough, you eventually become great at it and it eventually works out.”
This is something I believe in as well, but the problem lies in the foundation, as most people can’t do something for a long time without seeing some sort of progress or gain coming from it. Too often we are short-sighted and focus on the 2-3 year window of making it, rather than on the real long term 10-15-year journey of becoming experts in our fields.
We spend a decade pursuing education, we spend a decade working for others to the point of boredom, but we only work for ourselves a few years before deciding we aren’t heading in the right direction? Seems counterintuitive if you ask me.
Therefore the challenges to succeed lies within our own doing, or should I say within our inability to do. The differentiator I have personally always experienced in my own life, my own ventures, and my own businesses, has always been my ability to move forward with massive velocity even when faced with obstacles, failures, and setbacks. My ability to forecast ten years ahead rather than anticipate a three-year journey has been a major key to my success. By doing so, the need for immediate results within a three-year time span are non-existent.
The reason why forecasting 10 years ahead and sticking to something for 10 years straight is not common these days is a result of our pre-determined idea of success and the rewards associated with such success. While the media does a great job at celebrating the rewards and hardly displays the struggle, in Third Circle Theory, I showcase a blueprint for success that has no association with rewards.
A great example of this is Dan Price, an entrepreneur I recently interviewed for the Academy, who was recently featured all over the news for his willingness to raise the minimum wage to $70,000 at his company and take a $970K pay cut. While most media outlets highlighted this incredible move, I found some of them failed to mention that his company, Gravity Payments, had been around for over a decade, and they left his story with the feel that a startup CEO was being very generous with his money.
When sitting on the sidelines, we’re painted a picture of entrepreneurship showcased as a 4-5 year journey to massive success, which sets forth our expectations of ourselves. We, therefore, set our limitations based on such past observations, preventing ourselves from breaking the status quo.
Most entrepreneurs and business owners find massive velocity in the earlier stages of their business, partly because of the exciting new feeling it creates, but more so because the potential of the doors it may open and the roads that will be built. Over time, however, when our expectations of our business are no longer made based on the predetermined idea of how far progress or growth should be, that velocity often finds itself becoming very linear, converting our actions from active to passive, meaning we spend more time simply becoming transactional in our business rather than continuing to push forward with the previous velocity. This loss of belief in ourselves leads us to self-doubt, lowered confidence, and a domino effect leading to less energy driving the venture forward.
In all these years, this has been the singularity I have identified in over a dozen businesses of all kinds. From IT-based solutions to the simplest of restaurants, it is at the end the pre-determined idea of what we think success looks like that ends up preventing success from taking place, and prevents us from believing what we once deemed as possible.