Entrepreneurial mindset in changing environments

19/02/2015

The journey to reaching your vision will involve a number of stages or interim goals – the key milestones that will be your targets along the way, providing a route to your dream. Each stage will represent a progression either personally or professionally – or both, depending on your vision. As your goals move on, so will the circumstances you find yourself in and the challenges you’ll face. It’s likely that decisions you have to make will become more demanding and the risks more acute. To handle this changing environment, you’ll need to progress personally, shifting your mindset to a new level at each stage.

The critical steps in growing a business or embarking on a challenging new project will place pressure on the way you think – it will push you into new areas and possibly further than you have gone before. It’s likely to stretch your abilities to the limit. So it’s important to adapt your way of thinking to be able to cope with the new risks and challenges each new situation brings. Otherwise you will find yourself frozen like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to make the necessary decisions to take you forward.

Successful entrepreneurs, for example, will tell you that growing their companies tested their capabilities to the breaking point. How comfortable will you feel if you need to give a personal guarantee to secure bank funding, or learn new skills to support the growth of your business or personal project?

To prepare yourself for the climb ahead, it pays to work out the different challenges you’ll face as you move from achieving one goal to embarking onto the next, so that you can be mentally ready to deal with them. Viewing each goal as a step towards your vision will help you to define the mindset that you need to develop to negotiate each stage successfully, allowing you to move forward with focus and clarity of thought.

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7 thoughts on dealing with the pressure and loneliness of running a business

30/09/2014

One of the LinkedIn groups I am a member of, asked if anyone had any tips on how to attain a good work/life balance and deal with the pressure and loneliness (at times) of being a company leader. As I got a few likes on my response, I thought I would share it on my blog.

I have always had a keen interest in the entrepreneurial mindset, in fact I have written a book on it as well. Having observed lots of successful business people over the years, it would appear that those who win, have good housekeeping embedded in their company, strong customer focus and one that often gets overlooked – mental toughness and resilience.

Growing a business is a roller coaster and you should expect the unexpected, period. The loneliness of running a business is a reoccurring comment made by individuals I meet – here are some thoughts:

  1. Many of the things we worry about are of are own making – be careful of the conversations you have with yourself, they can be extremely destructive
  2. Create space to think – success is 20% thinking and 80% doing. So many business people forget the importance of ‘time to think’ (I walk my dog for 2 hours a day over the Lancashire Moors).
  3. Have 2-3 people whose views you respect and trust – give them a call.
  4. Get involved with entrepreneurial networks – we are all worrying about the same things. Be open and share.
  5. Aim to build a great team who can share the burden.
  6. Life is short – remind yourself that a late payment is not the end of the world. Far worse things could happen.
  7. Maintain good health – without it… Say no more.

Creating space

16/09/2014

Not being able to see the wood for the trees is a common feature of life. People regularly talk about being busy and overworked – but just how much of this is self inflicted. All too often we engage in activity that brings no value to achieving our highest goals and ambitions. Without reflective time, our decision making becomes blurred and it is common to lose sight of what we want. The result is stale thought with patterns of behaviour that fail to deliver our deepest desires. Successful people have the fortunate ability to think clearly, this is helped by finding the time to take well earned breaks from being “busy”. This cleansing process provides the opportunity to de clutter the mind.

The practice of finding sanctuary helps to remove mental blockages and fosters a sense of balance between work and play. Without regular periods of reflection you will find yourself eventually in a rut – the place you don’t want to be!

You must think of Sanctuary on three levels of “time out”:

  1. Daily sanctuary to help us to prepare for the day ahead – time with family, exercise, meditation, prayer, reading. Starting each day with 10 minutes of deep reflection, provides a kick start to focused activity and just being aware
  2. Weekly sanctuary that helps divert our energies into non related activities like pursuing a hobby, sport or spending more time with family and relationships. These activities release you from the week that was – puts you in a good frame for the week ahead
  3. Sanctuary includes those activities that most people can only fit in two or three times a year. They would typically involve family holiday’s, short breaks or some form or retreat. This level gives you the opportunity to ask the big questions – what is my life all about? What needs to change? Should I go and do something else?

Dedication to the 3 Levels will open your mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Chasing success can be as destructive as it is constructive – practicing the art of Finding Sanctuary will build perspective into your life and help to differentiate between what is and what is not important, what brings fulfilment and what does not – embed these disciplines into your routine and you will experience a profound improvement in clarity of thought – you will see things more clearly, you will make better decisions and life will feel less hectic.


Satellite navigation and strategy

29/07/2014

In times of turbulent economic conditions and market uncertainty much of the strategy stuff you read in management text books just does not apply. What I see at the moment is very much a survival approach with long-term strategy not featuring on the agenda of board meetings I attend. (The strategy is actually the tactics). My own research has found that a good proportion of the entrepreneurs who come through challenging phases have faith in what they are trying to achieve and remain firmly fixed on their destination.

They operate a bit like a sat nav system in the car – when we lose our way we take a new path, different road and a detour –  a re calculation of the coordinates eventually put us back on course – we maintain faith in the software to get us there! This is probably a good way to think when things are not going to plan.

We have to deal with the short and immediate term issues without losing sight of the destination, however plotting a new course is vital. This often means putting yourself about in the market, nailing what you already have as well as keeping your eyes open to new ideas, reinvention, diversification and forging new partnerships and relationships to generate new opportunities.

Keep the strategy sat nav on!


Mental toughness and resilience are essential to growth

26/03/2014

Running a business, particularly a high growth one is full of ups and downs. The highs are fantastic and the feeling of jubilation when we move closer to our goals provides us with a clear sense of accomplishment. For our mind it’s a great place to be as we are motivated and energised by this sense of achievement, this creates the impetus and motivation to keep pushing forward. However the journey towards our vision very rarely proceeds along a smooth path. Invariably, obstacles will be thrown in our way, these force us to create diversions and look for alternative ways of getting to our destination.

Constantly being forced to deal with the need to explore alternative roads to our desired end point can have a wearing effect on our mindset, it can bring us to all time lows in motivation – many individuals will ask themselves what’s the point in doing this? Is it really worth it? Most of us at some point in our lives have internally deliberated these issues.

Only you can answer these questions, only you can decide whether to keep going or not. At these critical points, it can be easier to give up than to carry on – from my research into success, winners in all walks of life dig deep, maintain focus and continue with their mission, they accept that setbacks are just part of the game plan.The old adage when the going gets tough the tough get going is one you should reflect on when you experience these feelings (Billy Ocean said this in his famous song). Two vital questions you need to ask yourself if you reach this stage:

  • How much do I want it?
  • Can I cope with more setbacks?

Having mental toughness differentiates winners from losers, your sense of purpose ebbs away when you listen to negative self talk, phrases such as why am I doing this? are symptomatic of the condition, in turn it weakens the endurance of the mind  and sprit thereby resulting in I give up. Successful people I have researched have an insatiable desire and internalised motivation to succeed – you have really got to want it!


Who motivates the motivator?

14/01/2013

Building a company is not only tough from a business and commercial perspective it’s also really tough emotionally. I spend a lot of my time listening to entrepreneurs and it’s really interesting to hear about their journey, the trials and tribulations. The things that keep them awake at night – cash, staff issues, customer challenges, raising finance, building a great team, staying one step ahead of competition. The great entrepreneurial leaders I meet are the ones who keep positive and absolutely determined and enthusiastic about their vision. When they get kicked they get back up again and keep going for more….why is this? Well I think it’s because:

1. They are on a mission and there is no stopping them – clarity of purpose

2.They are passionate about what they want to achieve

3. They have got something to prove to themselves and very often others

4. They have no choice – their life and livelihood/family/personal assets are inextricably linked to business success

5. They have a clear exit point and/or their personal intentions are hard-wired to professional success

Whilst they keep up the smiling face in public, very often these individuals get ground down by the noise of their surroundings, people whingeing,  earache from all angles, staff issues, the internal saboteurs who’s only purpose in life is to stir up mischief. Against all the odds these great entrepreneurial leaders just keep going with positive words of encouragement to staff and customers they serve.

Every so often the emotional tanks of these guys are emptied. So who motivates the motivator? My recommendation is surround yourself with positive people avoid the negative individuals who infect your motivation and drain you of your energy. A mentor or someone you find inspiring helps to fill the tank, restores your energy and brings a sense of sanity.

Some people refer to coping strategies and this feels like a good way of thinking about dealing with the inevitable challenges that come with trying to build a great business. Think about your own coping strategies – as well as your mentor consider – a new hobby, reading, going to the gym, having a few pints with your mates, speaking to your peers….a form of escape that pumps you back up!

It’s important that the motivator maintains his or her motivation!


We all need an anchor

22/10/2012

What stops you from drifting into the unknown? Your anchor keeps you close to the shore – if you are ambitious you need to be clear on what helps you stay on track – something to hold on to when things don’t go the way you want them to. Your anchor is also your escape, a place to go to when everything around you appears to be imploding. Anchors are a place of refuge, normality and comfort:

-Holiday and time away from the day job

-A friend and mentor

-The countryside, a place of tranquility

-A walk with the dog (Buddy)

-Time with the family

-Your religion/faith

-A hobby, that deflects from normality

-Sport/exercise that helps burn energy

Your anchor is a powerful internal motivator, using it will help you stay on track, maintain energy and get you to the finishing line! What is your anchor……?