Your Dream Job

During some personally difficult times, clients and colleagues will often ask, “Why do you do this work?” They are puzzled that we would choose to put ourselves in the middle of the messiness and pain that people experience in their lives and work.

We do this work because we know that when people matter to themselves and believe that others matter, too, success is ensured.

This is true in organizations, on teams, and with individual contributors. Success increases when people matter. Often in life, and especially at work, we can start to believe that things matter; results matter, money matters, but people…they are in the way. 

Yet, the most powerful leaders we know understand that it’s the people that create the success and that when those people are treated with respect for their contributions, with interest in their wisdom and perspective, and honored for the challenges they must deal with every day, everyone thrives. 

A few days ago, we found an article by Peter Wehner in the New York Times called, The Uncommon Power of Grace: A revolutionary idea lies at its core: radical equality. In it, there was a paragraph that described how we treat ourselves and one another when we believe people matter – the author used the term grace. 

When I recently asked . . .  how, as a nonbeliever, he understood grace and why it inspires us when we see it in others, he told me that grace is “some combination of generosity and magnanimity, kindness and forgiveness, and empathy — all above the ordinary call of duty, and bestowed even (or especially?) when not particularly earned.” We see it demonstrated in heroic ways and in small, everyday contexts, he said. “But I guess, regardless of the context, it’s always at least a little unexpected and out of the ordinary.”     

When we matter to ourselves and when we believe others matter, we bring a combination of generositymagnanimity, kindness, forgiveness, and empathy to ourselves and to others in the face of our humanity and the messiness it brings. 

This year, our commitment to you is to support you in mattering to yourself and to creating environments where others matter, because this is the combination that creates unexpected and out of the ordinary success

We’re in this together!

If you’d like support in showing your team that they matter, our Executive Coaching could be for you. Contact us today to learn more.

– Heather @ Carpenter Smith Consulting

7 Failures of Business Growth

If you want to stand out in today’s marketplace, you must work smarter, not harder. This is easier said than done, however, as despite their best intentions, companies get snarled in the glaring failures that derail business growth and stagnate profits.

In order for you to avoid these failures, you have to be aware of the most common ones and the strategies for combating them. The following will help you turn failure into success.

1. FAILURE TO ANTICIPATE

Most companies react to change as it occurs. You must anticipate and plan for future changes. You can anticipate a great deal in your industry. For example, are automobiles of the future mostly going to be electric instead of gas? Many think so. Could automobiles hover like drones instead of drive on four wheels? Of course!

Instead of being a crisis manager and reacting to change, anticipate changes so you can drive growth from the inside out. Spend one hour a week focusing on predictable opportunities to strategize and become more of an opportunity management organization.

2. FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
There is a difference between informing and communicating. Informing is one-way and static,  and seldom leads to action. Communicating is two-way and dynamic, and usually leads to action. We have these fantastic Communication Age tools but use them in an Information Age way. If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate externally to customers and shareholders? When you focus on maximizing two-way communication, you can create a Communication Age organization and accelerate positive change.

3. FAILURE TO COLLABORATE
The majority of people tend to cooperate, which is a lower-level function different from collaboration. Even though we often use the word “collaborate,” we frequently really just mean “cooperate.” Cooperation means, “I won’t get in your way if you won’t get in mine.” Such an approach produces results but certainly not outstanding results, because it’s based on a scarcity mentality.

Collaboration is instead based on abundance and gets competitors to work with you rather than against you. It occurs when we put our heads together and ask ourselves, “How can we create a bigger pie for everyone?”

4. FAILURE TO INNOVATE
When asked what their last big innovation was, most companies have to go back five or ten years to cite something meaningful, as the majority of companies innovate once, form a company around the innovation, and then let it ride. They stop innovating and instead spend a great deal of effort asking themselves how they can become more efficient by doing more with less, reducing overhead, and using technology better. You must ask yourself how you can use technology and staff to create new products and services to increase sales all around. Innovation fuels profitability and efficiency.

5. FAILURE TO PRE-SOLVE PROBLEMS
Always remember that a problem isn’t an opportunity in disguise; it is a problem! A problem is only an opportunity before it occurs, and most problems we experience are predictable. If you ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the real opportunity. Instead, you need to think at a level higher and ask yourself and your customers, “What problems are we about to have?” Develop new solutions based on those answers and base your product development on your customer’s future problems

6. FAILURE TO DE-COMMODITIZE
Unfortunately, most companies come up with something new and make it their main product. Other companies copy the product, and then market saturation occurs. Try de-commoditizing your offering by taking your product and putting a service wrapper around it. For example, in the electricity industry, the utility provider cannot increase prices without permission from ratepayers. One electric company bypassed this limitation by creating what it calls “digital electricity.” They sold customers a product that, for a higher cost, prevented any fluctuation of voltage from occurring. Many big companies signed up for this more expensive service, and in the near future, homeowners with streaming devices will have a similar interest. This electric utility took a product and wrapped a service around it in order to de-commoditize.

7. FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE
Too many companies become just like everyone else. True strategic planning needs to be more than numbers based; it needs to focus on how you can differentiate your company and products from those of the competition. You differentiate by avoiding all the failure modes we’ve discussed that prevent business growth. You anticipate, communicate, collaborate, innovate, pre-problem solve, and de-commoditize. Become what your competition isn’t in order to differentiate.

BUSINESS SUCCESS IS ON YOUR HORIZON

When you know the failures to avoid and the strategies for combating them, you’ll be well on your way to learning from these failures, rethinking the way business is done, and creating an organization that continues to grow despite external factors.

NEXT STEP: Pick up your copy of The Anticipatory Organization to discover proven strategies to accelerate innovation and shape the future–before someone else does it for you!

3 LITTLE KNOWN TIPS: HOW TO UNCLICK YOUR LIFE’S PAUSE BUTTON AND GET MOVING

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FRUSTRATED AND FEELING STUCK IN WORK AND/OR LIFE

I coached a woman named Tonya, who was having a tough time at work. She was feeling frustrated after a promised promotion ended with someone else getting the job. This was the final straw in a haystack of broken promises prompting her to look elsewhere for opportunity.

Unfortunately, she could not find the right job offer with additional income and scheduling like her current employer offered. Tonya felt advancing her career, needing scheduling flexibility, and growing her income were at a standstill. We all have similar work/life circumstances rife with excruciating stress, anxiety, and pain that is not sustainable, too, and remaining stuck is never the answer.

THE UNIVERSAL PAUSE BUTTON OF LIFE (CLICK)

 Tonya felt stuck– couldn’t move up or out of her current job or organization. She felt the universe was conspiring against her. We’ve all been there or maybe you are there right now with Tonya. I’ve been there too, live long enough, and it will come around again. Fortunately, this article shares a solution that shows you how to unclick life’s pause button of pain!

Tonya felt like the universe had hit the pause button of pain on her life. You can imagine how she felt — needing to pivot out of pain, but not knowing what, how, or when it would be possible!

Can you relate?

Every day, she goes into a job that gives her less and less, asks for more, and requires her doing her best work, while enduring feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, anger, distrust, and feeling absolutely stuck in her circumstances.

The U.K. Telegraph Online made these observations about people and their happiness:

Just three in 10 people feel ‘happy with their lives’ Researchers find 69 percent of people feel trapped in the same old routine and over 40 percent are unhappy with their lives

PAUSES CAN BE PAINFUL, BUT MORE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD

I shared with Tonya how life’s pauses are generally misunderstood. Most of us know how painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating it is believing, feeling, or knowing there is something better waiting down our life’s path, but the path is not illuminated between your current pain state and future pleasure state.

Tonya and many of us feel antsy and confused, when we cannot move quickly toward our pleasure state and get out of pain — now. However, I’ve learned that running down your life’s path, in the dark (not knowing where you are going or what you are doing) can be disastrous.

In fact, it may be the reason you are currently in the circumstances you are in today — running from fears, not being patient, thinking the grass is greener, etc. If you can’t see where you are going, how do you trust your path (process of moving forward) at all? However, there is a light out of the darkness and an immediate pivot onto an illuminated path, when you understand the true nature of your life’s pauses.

THE PIVOT POINT OUT OF PAIN: UNDERSTANDING LIFE’S PAUSES

So, Tonya and I talked about the pauses of life taking on the meanings we give them. And, how those meanings keep us stuck or propel us forward in life. Feeling like your life is on pause is human, however, making meaning of your pause is a choice.

There are two common meanings people make of their life’s pauses: Belief their pause is either good or bad.

1. BELIEF YOUR PAUSE IS BAD: This feeds hopelessness, blaming, fear, and frustration, but does not change anything. For example:

a. I feel stuck in this job, because I don’t have the right connections. (Blame)

b. I feel like I’ll never be able to live abroad, because I can’t afford it. (Fear)

c. I feel like everything is working against me, because I never get a break. (Hopelessness)

Believing your pause is bad puts your life’s control into the hands of circumstance and treating them as if they are concrete instead of clay. You are given circumstances to mold, create, and amplify good in your life and in other’s lives. You must take back control with belief in a Good Pause.

A great illustration is the “Pregnant Pause”:

Webster’s dictionary defines a pregnant pause as: A pause that builds up suspension in the listener/viewer, for a greater dramatic (especially comic) effect of what follows the pause. 

2. BELIEF YOUR PAUSE IS GOOD: You must figure out what you must labor for and give birth too that feeds hope, accountability, confidence, and fulfilment as your pleasure state. For example:

a. While I’m stuck in this job, I will use this time to start crafting a plan that facilitates the right connections and people for greater opportunities here or elsewhere. (Accountability, Control)

b. While I feel like I’ll never be able to live abroad, I will use this time to find a few people who’ve successfully done it and create an informed action plan that lets me live abroad too. (Confidence)

c. While I feel like everything is working against me, I will use this time to focus on finding what will work for me — I’ll create good breaks — my circumstances are clay and I’m the potter. (Hope)

We must all focus on making GOOD meanings of our pauses not BAD ones!

3 LITTLE KNOWN TIPS TO UNCLICKING YOUR LIFE’S UNIVERSAL PAUSE BUTTON

Understanding your pauses’ meanings is a choice: good or bad. And, you must see pauses as “pregnant pauses of possibility” for reflection and discovery of your way forward. To move forward in the dark, you need a light, so you can see a few paces ahead, obstacles, and confidently make steady progress on your pleasure state’s path.

Now, your path has three obstacles — let’s call them boxes on it. Boxes you must find, unpack, and use to unclick life’s pause button. Each box contains 1 of 3 flashlight parts: Bulb, Flashlight Tube, and Batteries, so you can illuminate your life’s path:

1. (BULB) Vivid vision: This is a compelling, uncompromising, crystal clear vision of your pleasure state. It’s a “MUST” for you. It is worth fighting for tooth and nail! This means pulling late nights, getting up earlier before work, breaking mental/physical bad habits, etc. No matter what happens, in work/life, you are a heat seeking missile aimed at your pleasure state. It is what you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, scheming about day and night, to quote Les Brown.

Adopt a mentality that you won’t rest until you act and make your pleasant state happen. This doesn’t mean burning yourself out but showing resolve in the face of anything attempting to derail your efforts.

How I applied #1: the day my wife and I stopped talking about going on vacation and started pulling up resort rates online, checking our leave balances at work, and calculating the cost of going to St. Maarten instead of just dreaming about it. As in work or life, you must know specifically where you are going, so you can count the cost and start preparing for your trip (mentally and physically).

2. (FLASHLIGHT TUBE) Patient Process: This is the revelation and transformation resulting from your path being illuminated. It is satisfying and painful, because it’s growth. You will learn and lose somethings on your path, which is part of the process of making room in your mental backpack for success supplies you’ll need for remaining focused (no matter what) on achieving your pleasure state.

This means you staying positive through your day’s current state of pain, while working on your pleasure state every free moment you can beg, borrow, or steal. You must reflect on the behaviors and relationships (to things and people) you must change so you can focus and act on your movement toward your pleasure state.

Such as ending low value, toxic relationships with people in your life. Or, you may become a volunteer sharing what you love and aligned with your pleasure state. These changes will help create more capacity and focus required for reaching your pleasure state.

How I applied #2: Our St. Maarten trip was several weeks in the making and waiting. Yes, waiting for the right rates, allocating funds, finding flights, arranging childcare, and getting projects done sooner, before even considering the beach vacation. It became our singular mission — we need a break (On St. Marteen) and we did what it took to reach St. Maarteen.

Now, cheaper vacations popped up like weeds, but those ads merely served to divert our attention away from making St. Marteen a reality. When your pleasure state is on the line, do not compromise!

3. (BATTERIES) Champion Connections: These people are further along in life. They give your bulb power to illuminate your path, so you can safely travel along it. This is where experts like Keith Ferrazzi comes in. There are millions of people out there that have been where you are going.

However, they don’t work for free, so you must learn how to engage, enrich, and be patient with them as they come into mutually beneficial relationships with you. Keith is a world renown expert in the champion connection space with books and at least one online course on Udemy.

This lesson about connecting with champions isn’t new, but it resonates differently when I consider how long I’ve been on a professional island cut-off from collaboration or support. And, seeing the impact of not having or being a champion for someone else — you stagnate, have fewer options, and have more difficulty getting off pause and staying that way.

How I applied #3: So, our best efforts hit a snag. We lacked expert knowledge of St. Maarten, so selecting the right condo was a chore. We did not know how water proximity dramatically reduced rental pricing. Like, a few hundred feet equating to a few hundred dollars less per day or week! An expert, when and where you need it, is rocket fuel for you unclicking your life’s pause button.

I can still remember breaking through the clouds over the sandy Isle of St. Marteen, as the jet descended through beautiful white clouds, over light blue waters, to touch down on a sandy expanse dotted by palm trees. It was only a few hours later, before we were sipping from fresh cut coconuts on a St. Maarten beach. The work/life struggle is real, and so are the rewards — don’t give up!

YOUR PATH’S LIGHT — ASSEMBLY IS REQUIRED

Life’s pauses make you stop, so you don’t trip over the three boxes on your unlit path to your pleasure state. The pleasure state that’s too far away to see with your eyes or run too without tripping over boxes in the dark. If you remain on your path and assemble your flashlight, you will see your path illuminate just beyond your pain state, faster, and enter your pleasure state more quickly.

DON’T TRY TO ILLUMINATE YOUR ENTIRE PATH — YOU’LL BLOW YOUR MENTAL LIGHTBULB

You might be asking, “Why can’t you see the whole path all at once?”

Jack Nicholson answers this question best:

See, your pause and path provide tumult and treasures that would be TOO alarming IF YOU SAW THEM ALL AT ONCE and out of context. You need processing time for making meaning out of what confronts you on your path. If you do not take time and build context around your experiences (Good Meaning), you will end up overwhelmed eating an entire elephant of possibilities instead of one bite at a time.

For example: “Getting a college degree can be overwhelming until you realize nothing happens until you enroll. And, progress toward completing a degree is one class at a time.” Your path is like getting a college degree. You will learn individual lessons that will help you reach your goal, which is how your path works — you get the context of where you are and are going, so you can keep going without overwhelm.

Otherwise, “Pop!” your bulb is blown trying to take in more than you are equipped to handle at any point on your path. This would make any pleasure state path seem more like a nightmare and your destination an impossibility, because you made the wrong meaning rushing toward your pleasure state!

Patience and process allow your flashlight’s illumination of bite sized portions of your life’s path. It is just enough illumination required to see, process, learn, and do what matters most in the moment — no more.

HERE’S THE ADVICE I GAVE TONYA (THAT WILL WORK FOR YOU TOO)

1. (Bulb = Vivid Vision) Tonya needed to unpack and create her ideal pleasure state that embodies the salary, flexibility, location, and opportunities for growth she dreams about day and night.

She will spend quality time making sure her pleasure state vividly resonates with her core values and aligns with her overall direction for her best life. These actions will help her create a crystal-clear vision for herself that feels right, authentic, compelling, necessary, a bit scary, and ultimately exciting without being overwhelming.

2. (Body Tube = Patient Process) Tonya must unpack her patience and stick to the “revelation — transformation” process, which means not rushing through needed research into jobs fitting her description. Not letting negative thoughts about her pleasure state dim her vivid vision, nor allowing bumps/setbacks on her path dissuade, discourage, and/or distract her from her chosen path.

This means maintaining her focus on bite-sized, actions and steps versus focusing her precious attention on all the possible steps she thinks must be taken toward reaching her pleasure state.

Remember, unfocused thinking will induce worry and often results in overwhelm getting in the way of a clear course of action. If you have trouble focusing your thoughts, you may find it useful practicing stillness such as a nature walk or meditation, before embarking on any serious self-reflective activities.

3. (Battery = Champion Connections) Finally, Tonya and I discussed the importance of taking her 12- month pause and getting connected with people she must meet, learn about openings, and building educational/social bridges to her pleasure state (the third box unpacked).

She must find champions with money, wisdom, introductions, perspective, to name a few things, whose flashlights have illuminated theirs and other’s paths to success. A great resource is Keith Ferrazzi’s book and relationship action plan (RAP) concept that spells out what Tonya must do consistently for the types of business and social relationships she needs for moving into her next opportunity.

Now, Tonya has unpacked all three boxes, assembled her flashlight, and is ready for champion connections who will help her follow her pleasure state’s path. And, so can you.

WRAPPING UP

Remember, your pause is what you make it, so make it a good one, by following the flashlight assembly instructions:

1. Create a vivid vision.

2. Follow your process with patience.

3. Find champion connections who have been where you are going

Follow these three steps, and I guarantee you’ll be on your well-lit path moving toward the pleasure state that gives you a better work and/or life results. These tips worked for me and those I’ve coached, so I know they will work for you, too.

ABOUT JOHN

I thank you for stopping by today.

I know you and millions of others want more control over their food and life’s narrative, so you can live better.

A Great Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn once said, “For things to get better, I must get better. For things to change, I must change.

Enroll in My Online Training Courses: To immerse in new ideas, discussions, and safe options for food and life narrative changes:

Online Course — 5 Incredible Food Lessons to Help You Look and Feel Better Now!

How to Get Rid of Celery Stick Diets Forever!

http://bglk.thinkific.com/courses/5IncredibleFoodLessons

Online Course — 7 Amazing Life Changing Strategies: How to Build Your Best Life Now! (The 7 Little-Known Secrets Expert Coaches Tell Their High Net Worth Clients) http://bglk.thinkific.com/courses/7AmazingLifeStrategies

Visit and subscribe to my site at http://bigguylittlekitchen.com/

Remember, nothing changes until you change. Nothing gets better until you get better.

Act: Enroll or Subscribe today, to begin your life transformation journey to a better, happier, healthier, fulfilled, and wealthier you.

Are You Inadvertently Sabotaging Your Success?

In a meeting with a coaching client this morning, I asked what the new entrepreneurs intentions were with his business and with our coaching, as I ask all of my clients when we start working together. This particular client who is branding himself as a content provider and copywriting said he wanted to improve his skills and what he offers his clients, to grow his business by finding new clients and by improving his pitching success rate.

Regardless of how long one has been in an industry, improving skills and staying atop new developments is crucial to one’s success (as an individual and in our businesses). Yet, carving out the time it takes to do this on a regular basis is one thing that loses priority when we end up in the hustle of product, promotion and customer satisfaction.

My client mentioned low-cost online courses he has been taking to stay on top of search engine optimization (SEO) requirements, the latest in digital marketing techniques and the best practices for social media sales. But keeping sharp in our skills and industry knowledge doesn’t have to mean taking a class. In a 10-minute time block per day, we could read business or industry news, listen to the latest audible business book or peruse what is happening in our professional organizations. Making learning a priority not only helps us grow ourselves and our businesses but it also gives us conversation starters for current and potential clients.

Which brings me to how we introduce ourselves to clients or potential customers, especially in this age of electronic, worldwide interaction. Every day I receive messages on LinkedIn from marketers who claim they have the perfect solution to help me grow my businesses. I believe most of the letters are the same template they send to everyone, since no clear identifiers are within the text of these letters, no words that they’ve spent any time understanding me or my business.

When I asked the client to send me his pitch letter, I found something similar to all of the other letters I receive (and to which I don’t respond): the letter is almost solely about him. A summary of the letter is basically: Hi, I’m ____________________. I provide X and I do Y. I get my clients results by Z.  I’m sure you could use my services/product/whatever.

Successful marketing is a lot like successful advertising in that the initial thing it does is draw attention to itself (quite literally) by tapping into first a truth and second, an emotion. After that, you need a quick story. All of these are so people can relate to you and your products on a very human level, and then it is that connection that will lead you to sales success.

In Sophia Amurosa’s book Girl Boss, she tells readers that if they want to work at her company (or at any company for that matter) to not spend their whole cover letter talking about themselves and how awesome they are. Amurosa says, instead, to tell her how her company’s problems can be solved, genuine things the applicant likes about the company, why the applicant wants to work there. The “how great one is” should come through in the resume or CV or supporting documents.

This should be the same when we pitch a potential client. We need to show we know a truth: an understanding of who they are and what their needs are (without bashing them) and then connect why we are the best person/company/product to help them resolve or solve an issue by providing a story example of how we helped someone else. And then our closing should be asking for a few moments of their time to discuss it; not providing a link to your calendar and asking them to pick some time (as that is again very impersonal).

Doing these simple things—prioritizing lifelong learning and growing and then connecting to others in a genuine way by starting with a truth—will keep your current clients closer and will increase your pitch success rate. After all, we’d rather do business with those we feel “get us” than with some stranger who doesn’t.

One Simple Question You Have To Ask Yourself Before Making Any Decision

Decisions are always emotional, no matter how rational you might think you are.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Making major decisions in life is usually stressful, confusing and paralyzing. Especially when it’s something that could affect the rest of your life.

Like what college to pick, which job offer to choose (if you are lucky to have multiple), should you move to a new city and should you start that business?

I am not going to make you read to the end of this article to give you the SIMPLE QUESTION.

So what is it?

“Am I making this decision based out of love or based out of fear?”

I know it sounds totally eccentric, but hear me out.

You assume that when you make decisions, you are making it after you have

  • collected all relevant information,
  • analyzing all of it,
  • weighing the pros and cons and
  • maybe even asking others’ opinions.

Wrong.

Decisions are always emotional, no matter how rational you might think you are.

When I started my first business as a sleep consultant, rationally, the decision made no sense.

I was a new mom trying to figure out life. I didn’t know a thing about running a business. I had no sleep training experience. I had no sales experience. I had no marketing experience. The investment was hefty!

But emotionally, I needed my independence. I needed to establish my identity other than a wife and a mother. I needed to use my talent and my skills.

I took the plunge.

At that time, I didn’t know to ask this key question, but I do know that I was making the decision based out of love.

Love for myself. My love for growth and challenges. My love for self-expression. My love to create something to help others.

If I had been worried about the money or the potential to fail (which is high for entrepreneurs), then I would have made the decision based on fear.

Our leaders (in corporations and politics) always have the choice to lead us, either through love or fear.

The great leaders always use LOVE to inspire us and join them.

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela are two incredible examples of world leaders who inspired and led by making all decisions through love. Love for their people, love for their country, love for humanity.

They never used fear, even during fearful times to lead. Instead they always focused on the infinite possibilities that were available to them, should they choose to see it and act on it.

The next time you are facing a decision, big or small, ask yourself:

  1. “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?”
  2. “What would I do if I didn’t care what others thought of me?”
  3. “What would the most confident version of me do?”
  4. “What would I do if I wasn’t worried about the money?”

All of these will help you make a decision guided by love and help you expand in life, as opposed to shrinking from life; which is what fear based decisions make you do.

What tough decisions have you made in life? On hindsight, did you make them based on love or fear?

10 Things I Wish I knew Before Starting My Own Business

successful entrepreneur

Working as a senior vice president for a Fortune 100 company and running IT Services for 48,000 end-users on a global scale was a tough job. It was long hours, lots of pressure and difficult customers. But, even so it was nothing compared to joining the ranks of the entrepreneurs and starting my own business.

Here are 10 things I wish I had known before I started as it would have helped me be better prepared for the important first few years of my entrepreneurial life.

1. Don’t create new products, solve problems.

Forty-two percent of product launches fail because there is no need for the product. That’s right 42 percent fail because nobody wants the product.

So instead of trying to develop new and wonderful products to look for problems to solve. Where there’s a problem, there is a need.

2. Forget about being an overnight success.

Even the companies regarded as the quickest overnight successes, Amazon and Yahoo, took at least three years to get there, and the majority of companies take up to 10 years to really make it. So if you’re the goal is to be the next billionaire start-up owner then you need to be prepared for a long haul.

3. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Your success is going to come from your strengths so make sure the majority of your time is focused in that area. We all have weaknesses, but either outsources those areas or hire someone to take care of it for you. Focusing on your weaknesses takes you away from what you’re best at and is not a good use of your time.

4. Get the yourself the right team

We can’t do it all on our own; we need help, but we need to make sure we get the right help. Twenty-nine percent of start-ups that fail do so because they had the wrong team in place. So take the necessary time to evaluate the team that you need and then hire the best people you can.

5. If you’re going to fail, fail fast.

Failure is all part of the process, not only should you expect it, but you should plan for it. The best approach for failure is to fail quickly, adapt and try again. One of the worst things we can do is to fail slowly, desperately hoping that things will turn around. You need to learn quickly what’s working and what’s not that needs to be stopped.

6. Understand your value proposition.

If you don’t understand your value proposition you make it practically impossible for people to buy from you, because they don’t know what it is, you’re selling.

The simpler and clearer you can keep, this easier it will for people to decide that they need your services.

7. Know your ideal customer.

I am amazed at how many entrepreneurs struggle with defining who their ideal customer is, myself included. If you don’t know the answer to this simple question, it makes marketing practically impossible. The tighter you can define this the more targeted and successful your marketing can be, and it will lead to more sales.

8. Not every customer is right for you.

We’ve all heard the saying the “customer is always right”, and while that’s good to know, it’s more important to know is that “not every customer is the right customer.” We should not be afraid to fire customers where the hassle of dealing with them diminishes the profitability or where the effort involved outweighs the benefits. Just like there are bad products and companies, there are also bad customers and we need to learn that it’s okay to let them go and to focus on finding the right customers.

9. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Mistakes are great learning opportunities, but we don’t necessarily need to make them all in order to learn from them. Eighty percent of start-ups fail, so study what caused them to fail and make sure you take the necessary steps to avoid falling into the same traps, it could save a lot of time, money and stress.

10. No sales, No business.

Sales are like oxygen, and without them, we die it’s that simple. It’s so very easy to get caught up in product design, marketing, planning, recruitment, branding, etc., etc., but we need to remember we are in business to make money and to make money we need sales. Business don’t develop themselves just because we have some great ideas, products or services.

While many of these things seem so obvious now, that wasn’t the case when I started.

Working for 25 years in a corporate environment wasn’t the best preparation for being an entrepreneur and understanding these things would have saved a lot of time and effort and would have helped me progress much quicker.

What do you wish that you had known when you first started out?