By: Abha Maryada Banerjee
When the big idea struck and you knew that your breakthrough thought could change something around you or your environment, something that could lead to an obvious solution or an answer to a long forgotten problem... the moment that turned you into an entrepreneur. That moment will stay with you for the rest of your life but how would you manage to stay with the thought, get it to the ground, turn it into reality, work your way into and above the roadblocks, create the solution that you know and make money on the way and at the end of it!
With a few ventures under my belt, I have had the opportunity to meet so many passionate people with splendid ideas and the people who have turned their ideas into reality. I have also met people who gave up, failed, turned cynical, lost interest and went back to their jobs finding the entrepreneurial journey too tedious. There was little difference in their levels of passion but the one big difference that I often see is 'The M Factor' or motivation to stay the course!
The success and failure of ventures boils down to who can stay motivated on this journey, who can handle the roller coaster ride, who is willing to give it their all, who enjoys the challenge, who can think on their feet, who has a sense of humor, who walks the talk, who is emotionally resilient, who is mentally strong, who is good at troubleshooting, who is a solution driver, who can work under pressure, who is capable of change and adaptation, who manages the lows well... who leverages the highs fast, who refuses to give up and who has the strength to stay on track until the idea is visible and making money? Tall order, is it?
Investors know for a fact, that they can only trust the first two phases of growth. Any venture to grow to its capacity needs a minimum of five years to anything between ten and more years. It can take many years to even build the basic framework of what the whole idea is going to look like. Motivation, not something that is fervently advocated and discussed as an entrepreneurial essential is one of the big keys to succeeding as an entrepreneur. Why is that so? Despite all the plans and projections, an entrepreneur has no idea how to plan the roadblocks or difficulties that will come in the way of a new idea. Execution of their idea is the biggest achievement as well as the biggest challenge for any entrepreneur, be it a new or an experienced entrepreneur. A splendid plan can fail if the entrepreneur is not determined to turn himself into a splendid executor and stay motivated. It is as much about "you" as it is about the idea. How do you do that? Know the following:
The ride will be bumpy: Are you in a habit of facing bumps? If you do not have the capacity to stay in your seat with a smile when the bumps hit you, you are bound to fall. Strengthen your mental and emotional capacity to face difficulties. The best way to do this is to walk into the difficulty rather than running away from it. Confront difficulties even in your day to day life as the practicing ground. Solve them, fight them, beat them and condition yourself mentally, emotionally and physically so your body responds as a difficulty solver whenever you are faced with one. It is much about Habits and your capacity to face difficulties.
Never be a piecemeal entrepreneur: In my experience, you have to give it your all to succeed. What does this really mean? If you can dream, think, talk, walk, eat, sleep, drink your idea, you are close. A half-hearted approach to anything is usually not effective or successful. It is no different with entrepreneurship. It needs dedication, devotion, presence, continuous learning, ideating, solving, working, breathing your ideas that creates the necessary energy to succeed. The best way to do this is to be unabashedly proud of your idea, keep improving upon it, and keep working upon it. Your idea is to be custom tailored by you, so make that happen
The danger zone -- comfort zone: I meet a lot of new entrepreneurs who have the most brilliant thoughts but they discuss why the idea cannot be successfully executed. Yes, it is contradictory, but if your personal space is not customized to continuously work on your idea or your thoughts are focused more on what cannot happen as against what can happen, check your desire to stay comfortable while working on the business. Accept that comfortable and entrepreneurship are polar opposites and if you desire to do it comfortably, chances are you will give up when it gets tough.
When I started my venture SUCCESS INDIA in 2008, I had little money to spare and instead of hiring a professional to do the paperwork, I used to go to each registration office myself to save money and make sure that things were in order. As a Mental Strength Coach for elite Indian Olympic athletes, I used to work with them even in a restaurant or coffee shop to save time on traveling for 2-3 hours in Mumbai traffic. I have chalked out business plans while in a taxi and raised money on the phone from top shelf investors. Comfort and being comfortable should be shown the door if entrepreneurship is on your mind.
Thinking on your feet: Be clear that your idea has no precedents and normal is not always the way of things with new ideas. You should have thought out your idea in its depth and width that you can take any questions about it, for it and in it with an open mind, allowing new thoughts that bring the idea to life. As an entrepreneur, thinking on the feet is a huge talent. The best way to do that is to spend time alone, understand your own thought process, understand if you have any mental blocks, know where you are weak and what are your strength areas. You are the source of the idea and its execution, your thought and how your process new information to convert it into thoughts becomes very important.
Do you have a sense of humor? You wouldn't find this one in the books on entrepreneurship. Every successful entrepreneur will vouch for this one. Humor, laughter, enjoyment, fun are very powerful ways to de stress yourself as an entrepreneur. There is enough advice saying, you must love doing what you do, you must enjoy the journey.I say, build the capacity to laugh at yourself first, then at your mistakes, then at the World that will tell you to go back to your job. Mistakes will happen, blunders may happen, you may begin to question your own competence, you may hit roadblocks. Humor is a great companion
Walk the talk and talk the walk: No idea can stand on its feet if it does not have a person behind it who believes in it, works for it and goes out of the way to make it successful. The entrepreneur is the brand ambassador of the idea. His expression, his talk, his demeanor, everything is representative of the idea that needs to be executed. The best way is to begin living your idea in every possible way. For others to believe in your idea, you have to show extreme belief in yourself as the 'owner' of that idea.
Are you emotionally resilient? As an expert on emotional intelligence and leadership, this is yet another area that I found ignored in entrepreneurship literature. Emotions are one of the biggest resource that help us build resilience and the capacity to bounce back. The cliché' that business and emotion do not go together is the most misunderstood when it comes to entrepreneurship. We must deal with our emotional side so as to deal with the outside world better. Many ventures fail when entrepreneurs cannot face failure and get back on their feet. The best way to do this is to know that emotions are good and that learning about your emotions, how they affect you, how you can feel empowered is different from being emotional. It is about your personal strengths that you must understand how your emotions affect you.
Are you mentally strong? This is yet another one for resilience and bouncing back. Mental strength is taught to athletes to stay focused and resilient and I have always asked the question, why not to entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurship is like an extreme sport. It is one of the human needs to look for certainty and also look for variety at the other end. Without being certain about what they are going to do during the day, people may not move out of their homes. As an entrepreneur, uncertainty however, is a daily ritual. You have no idea what may come up and from where. Are you prepared mentally to live with uncertainty? The best way to do this is to mentally assign 50 percent of your day to new happenings. Call them new happenings instead of thinking that you have no idea what may come up. Get excited to meet anything new that comes up, become the problem solver, practice thinking on the feet, get your power emotions into play. Condition your mind to stay strong by daily practice.
Are you good at troubleshooting? Make this your biggest hobby and favorite pastime. Your idea may be the best solution for an existing problem, but if you cannot troubleshoot daily issues effectively, it will be a drain on your time. Troubleshooting must become second nature for an entrepreneur. Most delays are caused here, most thought is spent here, many opportunities may be lost over here. The best way to do this, is to know that time is precious and must not be used negatively. Make positive use of time by learning to troubleshoot and do it fast
Do you think solutions? You have to become a solution driver by habit. Call this the profit habit or call it a breathing style, solutions take you ahead faster than any talk, discussion, thought or analysis. Each time you drive the solution, you are strengthening your mental and emotional muscle as well to deal with the entrepreneurial blues. What can you do about a certain thing is important, but let us go out and deal with it is far more important. Act fast and you will become an expert at removing the roadblocks
Can you work under pressure? As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss, so where is the pressure! That is exactly where the pressure is, there is no boss, so there are no rules, there is no reporting, there is no checking. You are solely and fully responsible for yourself, your idea, its execution and its progress. Can you take the pressure of doing it all without any supervision? Are you geared to stay on track, stick to the time frames, finish the tasks and still enjoy yourself? Many new entrepreneurs, lose it right here. Procrastination sets in. The best way to do this is to know exactly what to do each day, make daily to do lists, be unconventional, stick up notes on your walls, in the car, on the doors. Do what you need to stay on track and not procrastinate
Become an expert at change and adaptation: No book or class can teach you this, you have to practice on your own. Most people abhor change and adapting to something new. An entrepreneur will be crippled if he cannot adapt to a changed circumstance or a new way of looking at things. He cannot afford to be a conventional rule follower. He will have to make new rules as he goes along. Change is a personal process and like we talked earlier about understanding your thought process, you have to see your reaction to change within your own thoughts and how easy or difficult it is for you to be able to change. Once you are mentally and emotionally comfortable with changing with a new circumstance, the road will be relatively smoother
Manage the lows and leverage the highs: All of the above will teach you very clearly how to manage the lows and stay on track, not get distracted, depressed and not give up. What about the highs and the successes? Should you spend time celebrating? Of course you must celebrate but adapt to the changed circumstance in your business and always attempt to turn the highs into multiplied opportunity. Think of ways in which you can expand the success, multiply it, innovate it. Just make it bigger and broader. These are areas which have succeeded and which must be utilized to the maximum. While you will continue to correct mistakes, you must never sit on the successes. Immediately broaden their leverage and scope. These give you extra breathing space. So never miss an opportunity to think how you can leverage the success to increase your success.
Abha Maryada Banerjee is a lawyer by profession and is the author of "Nucleus - Power Women: Lead from the Core." ( Motivational Press) She is India's first female motivational speaker of international acclaim, rates as one of the Top 10 Life, Business and Success Coaches in Asia Pacific, and is an expert in Leadership, Human Peak Performance and Emotional Intelligence. For more information visit http://www.abhamb.com/