7 Things a Google Search Would Never Tell You About Being in Business

Two short years ago my boss asked me to “take a walk around the block” and consider my options before I handed in my resignation. Let’s just say, it was a short walk around the block. I was certain I needed to get out and break free from the chains of 9 to 5 employment but that didn’t mean I had any idea what was going to replace it.

It changed everything.

Let me take you back a few years (seriously, it wasn’t that many!). When I was just 16 years old I walked out of school against a chorus of advice to stay in formal education and “make something of yourself”. People pleaded with me to not “throw it all away” and destroy my career prospects by leaving school. As a fragile and confused 16 year old, it was an extremely challenging decision to back myself and break free from the shackles of formal education.

It changed everything.

The moment I walked out of the school gates, I made a commitment to myself that from that day onwards my learning and personal development was my responsibility and no one elses. I had sacrificed the comfort of being told what to learn and what to think. To date, that decision on an unsuspecting walk from school was still the most pivotal moment of my life.
It changed everything.

For me, leaving school was no different to throwing yourself into self-employment or business. Everything you’re used to, is thrown out and you are faced with a unique new set of challenges that no amount of research or formal learning can prepare you for. Two years ago I made the (impromptu) decision to take back control of my life after working for a string of un-engaging and ultimately declining large companies. It was just as hard as leaving school but has been just as rewarding.

It changed everything.

Now I was in control of my own income, my own career progression and being my own boss (and believe me, you sometimes need to be bossy!). As a passionate young entrepreneur, I wanted to impart my biggest learnings as I approach two years of swimming in the “deep end” of business life:

1. Set Your Own Benchmarks for Success

The only person that can define success in your business is you. We’re so conditioned to having “career milestones” that in business, we forget to set our own.

Too often we set our sights on goals that are either too big or too small. We switch between big hairy audacious goals that are so big, that we live in constant disappointment at the gap between our current reality and our aspirational goals. Or we set our sights so small that we aren’t motivated to act.

We are constantly ranking ourselves against others achievements. Social media has created an inescapable feed of other people’s lives and we can’t help but “peek over the fence” and compare ourselves against others.

Not to mention, everytime we actually achieve a goal we immediately shift the goal posts without recognising the achievement we have made. In our own critical eyes, it never feels like we’re getting anywhere. But we are. We’re constantly learning. We’re constantly growing. We’re constantly progressing. Through spectacular failure and through spectacular success, we are building our capacity.

The key is to get addicted to the progress. Perfection is the quickest route to disappointment and inaction. Progression is like a bug. Once you’ve got it, the momentum is unstoppable. Be in pursuit of constant improvement.

[Tweet “You’re either green and growing, or you’re ripe and rotting.”]

2. Control the Controllable’s

Running your own business can be an incredibly confusing and lonely place at times. Very few talk about it, we’re so fixated on “success” that we forget most businesses (and people) actually fail first.

Unfortunately, business doesn’t come with an instruction manual. On one hand we’re told to “never give up” and on the other we’re told to “fail fast” and move onto the next big venture.
At times it’s hard to see the wood from the trees and differentiate the problems we create in our own heads and the ones that are genuine threats to our business. In reality, these are inseparable because we are our own biggest threat in business anyway. Letting our mindset slip into self-pity and victim mode is the quickest route out of business.

Focus on controlling the controllable’s. Don’t resist change, embrace it.

[Tweet “Good businesses are created in good times and in bad times which only proves that times have nothing to do with it”]

3. Education is the Single Best Investment

People are shocked when I tell them how much I’ve invested in my own learning and personal development since going into business. It’s been worth every penny.

I can honestly say that on average, I invest around 50 cents in every dollar I earn back into learning. I hate to think of the many business owners going round in circles and wasting valuable time and energy on problems they could have solved through investing in their education.

[Tweet “Education is cheap. Experience is expensive. “].

4. When You’re Confused, You’re About to Learn Something

Confusion is a frustrating place. No one wants to go there and yet more often than not, the magic actually lies within confusion.

Confusion and complexity aren’t states to be avoided. Embrace complexity. It’s only in asking yourself the challenging questions that you’ll find the next big breakthrough in your business journey.

It’s the resistance to confusion that creates the real pain. See confusion as fuel for innovation. Hey, if it was easy – everyone would be doing it!

[Tweet “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”]

5. If It’s To Be, It’s Up To Me

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing businessman Tom O’Toole  speak at a conference and amongst the many gems of wisdom, one quote stood out head and shoulders above the rest. He said “you can starve to death reading a cookbook”.

In reality, all the learning and planning in the world won’t move your business forward unless you are prepared to take action. The best kind of clarity, is the stuff achieved through action.

Don’t create a business that never leaves your bedroom, get out and validate your idea. Try new things. Experiment. Too many businesses are always “aiming” and never firing.

[Tweet “Ready. Aim. Fire. What did you learn?”]

6. You Attract What You’re Ready For

Success isn’t a straight path. It’s a maze. Sometimes you have to go two steps backwards to take one step forward. Most of us know what we want and many of us (including myself) are far too impatient. We want it all and we want it now.

The universe has a wonderful way of delivering exactly what you need at the right time, even if you don’t accept the timing. Every failure and every success is there to teach you something.

In order to attract the right things, we need to be clear on what we want. Take the time to visualise and get specific on what you want.

7. If You Don’t Stand Out, You’re Invisible

Don’t play the safe game in business. Trying to please everyone is the quickest way to blend in with the noise. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Constantly ask yourself – what am I doing to stand out and be different today?

If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing nobody. Your business should be a reflection of you. Don’t create two different worlds for yourself. It won’t last.

Overall, the last two years have been the most rewarding and challenging times of my life. I’ve learnt more than ever, met some incredible people, experienced amazing places and grown as a person in ways I never dreamt of.

[Tweet “The most important thing to remember is that it’s not success that creates happiness. It’s happiness that creates success.”]

Libby Brown