Between 2000 and 2005, I flipped over 69 real estate lots, worked as an executive for a Fortune 500 bank and started 2 seven figure businesses. While you may think that I was quite busy, I also had plenty of time to vacation, hang out with friends, and take on 2 new hobbies. A question I get asked often is: How do you get so much S%^* done?
The only real difference between experienced and inexperienced entrepreneurs is the amount of time it takes for each to deal with failure. While you may think that experienced entrepreneurs are past that phase, you are certainly wrong.
We all deal with failure at every junction of our lives regardless of how much money we previously made, how many successful businesses we founded, or simply how much we know. We all deal with failure in different forms but through experience, we learn to deal with it and become immune to the impact it has on us.
This doesn’t mean that failure is avoided, but it is rather dealt with quickly and efficiently, and in my case dealt with so well, that the outside world would never see me stalling because of the failures I experience.
I am going to break down for you what some of my best tips are for getting SH^% done, but also teach you how you can get better at each of them.
Act, think, repeat: You can’t get SH^% done without taking action and believe it or not, I never created a business plan of any sort. I am big believer that when you have an idea or want to get something accomplished, the best way to start is to actually start. Many of us already know what we must do to get things done but we also choose to over think everything.
Lets say you want to start a new project, venture or business. Your default setting tells you to start planning or start thinking of all aspects you need to ensure you don’t fail or lower your chances of failure. While you may think that is the best way to start, it actually prevents you from being effective as you waste time over thinking and even think of things you’ll never deal with. The more you think about it, the more likely you are to never start and have 100s of excuses why you never did.
When I have a business idea, I immediately start designing a logo or hire someone to do so, as this small step will already throw me right in the heart of the project and ensure I finish what I started. I usually do most of my thinking about the breakdown of the project after each step is completed. In other words, I allow my actions to shape my thinking rather than the other way around like most people. The more I act, the better ideas I come up with and the closer I get to complete the different stages needed to start, but the more I think about everything as a whole, the harder it becomes to visualize the completion of the project itself.
You can also think of this as a 5K race. If you think about running 3.1 miles, it may seem very difficult and strenuous and you may feel like you don’t have what it takes, but if you simply break down to 1 mile at a time, then the goal becomes achievable and your belief that you indeed can do it gets re-enforced, so at the very least you’ll start running the first mile. Act, think, repeat.
Don’t wait for others: In my business life, I have always worked alone and never really had equity partners in anything I did. I had partnerships, and individuals that had an interest in my success, but never one that had equity. Part of the reason for doing that was that I never found someone that matched the velocity of which I moved forward in. People tend over think things, and I tend to act first, think later. Since in the past I never needed someone with a particular set of skills that I couldn’t just hire, I was never faced with the need for partners.
In my latest venture (Secret Entourage), I was faced with the need to work with not 1 but 2 partners. Individuals whose values and belief are highly aligned to my own but whose work ethics are very different. This meant that if I wanted something done in a week, it sometimes took a month. While you could accept that these circumstances were self created and cause you to be bogged down, fail, or change partners, I look at this as an opportunity to move forward even faster than ever before.
When an obstacle arises, don’t wait for a solution, and create one instead. In this case, our design partner was taking 1+ month to create something that should take 2 days, and so hiring a part time designer to fill in the gaps saved us months of time at very little money, but also enabled us to identify tremendous talent that has since become part of the team.
Identifying quick solutions to keep moving forward without delay is much more important that waiting until you have a complete fix to the entire overall problem. Lose money, not time.
Don’t set goals based on other people’s milestones: Way too often we watch what our competitors are doing and assume its working or the success they have had is relevant to our own. While we should be aware of our competition, we should be very careful not to get lost in a spider web of misunderstandings and eventually end up losing it all. While your competitors may sell or have a similar product, service or idea, their circumstance and position is very different from yours. Therefore their approach, execution, and leverage will be different from yours.
That said, also keep in mind that most will attempt to look larger than they are. This is the reason why looking from the outside in, you may misunderstand what you are following to begin with. On the other hand, there is a competitor worth fighting against every single day.
That competitor is you.
The best way to compete and get s%^* done is to compete with you daily. All you have to make sure of is that each and every day is better than the previous day.
Imagine the power of being able to say that you were more productive and impactful today then you were yesterday and to keep building upon that brick after brick. Imagine how much further you would be a year from now if you only made sure that every day was simply 1% better than the previous one. You would be 365% further and therefore will have accomplished 300% in one year.
All I do everyday is not measure my growth through the sales or the revenue my companies generate but rather by ensuring that everyday, I create 1 more relationship relevant to my success. While it is very simple, I am bound to find at least 30+ relevant connections in a year that could drastically help me move forward. No matter how small or large the leaps you take are, simply make sure you are taking them.
Falling is ok, just fall forward: We all fail or have failed, and we all learn to get up. Denzel Washington said something during his commencement speech that sums up the power of failure. He said “You are going to fall no matter what you do, all you to make sure of is that you fall forward”. There is a lot of truth to that as no one will nail entrepreneurship, business, or anything they are learning to be good at in one hit, one try, and one small effort.
The reality is many of us fall everyday and don’t even realize we have fallen because we have made failure such a comfortable feeling that it’s almost expected. Instead, we simply quickly move our attention and find a fix to our problem.
Think about your life like a video game. The more you play the same level, the easier it becomes because you can predict what will happen and you often do so by knowing what didn’t work previously. While you are not given the answer for failing, you are still able to eliminate one possible alternative from the list of different ways to win. As long as you try and fail, you learn what to not do again and get one step closer to winning. All you have to do is make sure you get very comfortable falling and can shorten the lapse of time it takes you to recover from each failure.
I, myself, experienced tremendous amount of failures through my life, notably many more than usual bringing Secret Entourage to life. My lack of knowledge in the genre or the industry coupled with my lack of skill needed to create on my own made me have to try over and over before I found the balance I was seeking in my brand.
All of these things came through testing and failing 100 different ways before actually finding the answers I was looking for. What made it successful eventually was the idea that every time I failed, I simply made sure not to repeat the same errors again.
The same can be said about my career in corporate America which reached a very high executive level before I was asked to resign. While I was hurt, I was able to use that as an opportunity instead of dwelling for months as to why that had happened. We sometimes can’t control what happens to us or the circumstance we find ourselves in, but we can control how we react and take control rather than feel helpless.
So be prepared to fall, learn, get up and fall again, just fall forward.
Don’t settle, but don’t stall either: One of the biggest drawbacks that I have noticed in my very own friends but not in myself, which I believe has been a very large contributor to my success, has been my ability to move forward instead of trying to perfect everything. While the constant pursuit of perfection is key and constantly working to improve processes should always be part of your mindset, it should also not limit your actions. Sometimes you have to move forward to create progress only to come back later and perfect the process or refine the design.
A simple example of this is can come down to the basic beginnings of a business. We may have a logo we like but don’t love and while we can spend countless days focusing on a logo that will hardly be remembered for the first few years anyways, we could create one, create the business, grow the business and during that time reshape and refine our creation.
The real difference between getting s%^* done and simply standing there stuck is your ability to let go of the emotional tie you have to the situation and allow the flow to continue. The idea is to not stop the momentum and instead improve your idea over time. Gaining momentum is something very hard that must not be jeopardized.
Many of my business partners and friends find themselves stuck because they are not 100% happy with something, where I instead build things to the 65% level then move forward, as I know I can always build upon it. Think about how many major corporations still hold the same logo they did on day 1 they started, almost all evolved over time, and so should you.
Leverage people before draining resources: Not having enough money is always a great excuse why things can’t move forward and S^% can’t get done. I have always move forward faster because of my ability to leverage others rather than take on everything myself. While I could be great at everything I do, if I apply myself, it also doesn’t make sense to apply myself to things others can do better in a fraction of the time.
I am going to use Secret Entourage as a great example once more, since it was my first venture entirely outside of my comfort zone. While I could have learned to design, code, and become an all in one powerhouse, I could also buy the right people to help but why spend money when you have no idea how much you’ll have to spend again and again. Instead, I found it to be best to find talented people who not only shared the same vision vision but also complemented my skillset. This gave birth to a killer team who worked equally hard and allowed resources to be spent on growing the business rather than operating it.
Always leverage people before draining resources especially when resources will not give you a return on investment.
Some amazing tips to help ensure you get S%^$ done without stalling and finding yourself consumed by fear. Move forward, and don’t get distracted by the past, as your actions today define your future tomorrow.