It was a rainy day in central London a couple or so years ago. One of those rains that you can’t really see, but you definitely feel right up to your bones.
I was meeting up with a client there; an entrepreneur I’d talked to a few times on Skype, the owner of a moderately successful small business that had been active for quite a few years by then.
He said he wanted to take the business to the next level. I said I might be able to help him. If, and only if, he was willing to take that help.
I knew the business had that potential. I was certain it had all the ingredients to become an even bigger success than it was.
So, we met. We started talking numbers, discussing his vision, my ideas for his business and his marketing strategy. We outlined a plan and both left that meeting with a plethora of ideas and a bucketload of eagerness to get started on this growth project.
He was ready to take it to the next step. You could feel his excitement.
And yet, two or three years later, he’s still in the same place with his business.
It was something I knew would happen within a couple of days after our initial meeting — and I was right.
He listened to everything I said, he responded positively to all the suggestions I sent him during and immediately after our meeting. He said all the right things, in the beginning — but he never actually put any of them into practice no matter how much I urged him to.
Instead, he started to complain. Complained about his employees and how they weren’t getting things done.
Complained about the costs involved in implementing new ideas and strategies.
Complained about having to invest and implement new software.
Complained about having to hire new people.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain” — Maya Angelou
And after seeing this new turn in his attitude, it hit me: starting a business? Easy enough. Making it successful and growing it? Not nearly as easy.
And not for the reasons you might think.
His success didn’t come from some extraordinary vision or great drive to succeed. It came from being at the right place, at the right time.
But while that was enough to keep the business afloat and moderately successful, it wasn’t nearly enough to make it truly successful.
And he’s only one entrepreneur in a sea of many who have this same problem.
They say they want success but when it comes right down to it, they aren’t ready to make the investments and the sacrifices needed.
They find reasons to become complacent and to avoid any extra work. They want the success…but they’re not willing to pay anything for it. Whether that payment means money, their time, or physical — or even mental — work.
He’s just one example among many; I’ve worked with countless entrepreneurs and business owners over the years and absolutely all of them wanted change — but only a select few of them were actually willing to work for that change.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” — Walt Disney
It doesn’t matter how smart you are.
How talented you are.
What an amazing leader you are.
None of it really matters if you’re not willing to invest blood, sweat and tears to be successful.
As Elon Musk so eloquently put it, if you want to be successful, you need to “Work like hell.
“I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100-hour weeks every week. (This) improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100-hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
And it’s not just time that you need to invest in your business in order to be successful. You also need to take risks and try new things. You need to invest money back into your business. You need to keep trying and trying and trying…and it never really stops.
“The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something” — Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author
And look, I’m sure you must be thinking “that’s just common sense. Of course, you have to actually do something in order to achieve success.”
But the thing is, most people, even though they really want this success and they think they’re willing to pay the price for it, when it comes right down to it, they do it all in half-measures. Or, they don’t do anything at all and just complain.
Sure, some of them make some changes here and there; but what they actually do is just enough — enough to feel like they did do something, but not nearly enough to make a real difference.
They find a compromise that makes things easier on them just to feel like they did take action — and then they complain it’s not actually helped with anything.
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur and you want real change and truly want to grow your business, then you need to be prepared to make some real sacrifices.
Changing means a lot of hard work — and I’m not exaggerating at all. It will mean you won’t have nearly as much free time as you’re used to and you probably won’t see your family very often. It will mean investing your own money into your business or even having to take out loans or to find alternative financing options. It will mean sleepless nights, stress and probably even some tears.
So if you want to be more successful or start a successful business, you need to take a very real and honest look at yourself and consider whether you’re ready to make these sacrifices or not.
There’s no shame in not wanting to — and lying to yourself won’t take you anywhere.
If you’re happy with your business as is, that’s great. That’s the important thing, after all, to be happy with your life and with what you have.
But if you want more, truly want more, then wanting it is not enough. It’s a highly competitive market and only the best can make it.
And the “best” doesn’t necessarily refer to the best business ideas or the smartest people. In business, a good idea is just a starting point — it won’t take you anywhere if you’re not willing to truly invest in this idea and to make real changes in your life and your business.
Getting to the next level will really hurt. Physically and mentally.
Are you sure you can make those sacrifices?