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9 Things to Expect on Your Business Journey
There are common phases that your business journey will go through. The trail to business success is long, winding and sometimes rocky; however, it is definitely worth the trip.
Wouldn’t it be nice if business success was easy? If there were a formula for success, like all the self-help gurus would have us believe? My answer to those questions is "no". I think it is good that your business journey is challenging and difficult at times. It is only through fighting past the tough times and puzzling through the challenges that we learn. And once we have put the effort in, we appreciate the success that we are able to create more than if it had been handed to us.
Your best teacher is your last mistake.
The trick to enjoying running your own business is to expect the ups and downs and the twists and turns. Welcome and embrace them and take full advantage of what they will teach you along your business journey.
Here are some of the signposts you will encounter on the trail:
Fall out from the economy. Most businesses felt the recession in some way. Some didn’t survive it.
A changing economy is to be expected. Over the life of your business, you will see the economic climate go through times when it favors your business, and times when it squeezes your opportunities to a bare minimum.
You are humming along, and things are going well, when suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you. Whether it is losing your biggest client, a sudden turn in the demand for your product, or a health problem that means you have to dial back your hours, your income will dip from time to time.
Sometimes the products or services you least expect to do well turn into sleeper hits that sell beyond your wildest expectations. This is not a bad problem to have, of course, but it is something you may need to make adjustments around.
You have been working on reeling in a new client for months. Or you have been talking to a potential partner. The new source of income is so close, you can taste it. And (you’re embarrassed to admit) you have even started planning how you will spend your new income. And suddenly, it is gone. Plans change and you will not be able to count on that source of income in the future.
A service or product you offer has been a reliable source of income for months and years, and sales have begun to taper off. You know you need to make a change: will you keep it and update it? Pull it and replace it?
Sometimes when you least expect, you will meet someone who will change the course of your business. Oftentimes you do not realize it at the time, but looking back, you will see that change started to happen when you and that person crossed paths. They may become a business partner, a brainstorming partner, or simply a source of inspiration. Once you find them, your business changes for the better.
If you are lucky, you will have a long and winding trail to walk as you build your business over the years. There will be ups and downs. In the down moments, you may feel discouraged. Expect this--it is natural.
Success is never so interesting as struggle—not even to the successful. –Willa Cather
There will be many small moments of victory and you will be a happier business owner if you find a way to celebrate them. Mark them on the calendar, keep a journal, report your successes to your business colleagues and family members. Every small victory deserves recognition, even if you are the only person celebrating.
Businesses evolve. Try to go into your business with a strong vision of what you want to accomplish, and a weak vision of how exactly you will accomplish it. Because as time goes on, the tools and techniques you use will change. You will respond to your customers, you will learn new skills, and you will have more opportunities at your disposal.
Don’t get attached to exactly how you will get to your destination.
Pack your bags with plenty of persistence. You will need it for the trip. Remember, it is about the journey--not the destination.
Take along your flashlight. Your business journey will feel like walking through the woods on a dark night. The flashlight in your hand will show you where to place your feet in the space directly ahead of you; however, you will not be able to see beyond that. And that’s okay. That is how it works!
Use your listening ears. This is how you can see ahead of you. By listening to what your customers need, you can stay ahead of the game. So when that client bails out, the big job falls through, the partner loses interest, or sales fall flat … you have a Plan B.
Achieving a goal is nothing. The getting there is everything. –Jules Michelet
The process is what it is all about--not the goal. The goal is just what you are pointing toward.
Human nature dictates that as soon as we accomplish one goal, we set a new one for ourselves. So you see, it is not about the goal. It is about the trail we travel to get there.
Hold your goals loosely. Embrace the process you will use to get there.
That is where the learning happens in your business journey. That is where the adventure lives. That is where business gets done.
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