Are You On The Trajectory To Succeed Or Fail?
Concerted actions you can take to put your business on a success timeline.
Anxiety has a pretty strong presence in most entrepreneurs’ lives. When we’ve birthed and planted a new idea, we anxiously wait for our business to break the surface of the soil.
Even though there are roots building and anchoring beneath the surface, we are impatient for people to notice and witness our progress. We want that plant to make a serious entrance when it shows itself, and we want people to know that what we’ve been building is worth admiring and is destined for success.
We become anxious when we’re unaware of where we are on this timeline — is my business going to be successful tomorrow? Next month? Next year? In five years? When is my plant going to be visible to the world?
I’ve gone through this process several times and can bring some clarity to the elusive success timeline of a new business.
A startup success timeline is a timeline that details when your pilot, traction, and scale phases start and end.
For many new businesses, they veer off to a different timeline and never hit the traction phase. They close shop.
When an entrepreneur is on their journey, their anxiety wraps around how close or far they are from the traction or scale phases, or they may not realize that they’ve completely veered off to the business closure timeline.
When does the inflection point happen? Can you sense it before it does? And how do you know when you’re doomed to never hit that success you desire?
I’m not going to claim that I can take a look at a business and know right away if it’ll be successful or not — there are plenty of underdog and 360 Cinderella stories that prove very educated hunches wrong.
What I can share though, is that there are concerted actions one can take to make sure that their desired success walks closer to them with every passing effort.
Informed Effort = Results
The biggest mistake I see new entrepreneurs make is adopting and abandoning several different business models or sales channels in a short period of time as a result of their impatience.
I see businesses do social media marketing poorly for 6 months and claim that it doesn’t work for them, even though every major competitor of theirs is active and growing on their social channels. I see businesses try to sell their product to a B2C market with an ineffectual brand and website in tow and then decide to switch to B2B because the B2C market “isn’t for them”.
I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs make swift decisions based on bad data.
If something isn’t working for your business, don’t ask what new thing you can do next to fix the problem. Ask if you actually put in an informed effort into the problem you were trying to solve, and if not, who the right person is to achieve the results that you desire.
If you haven’t put in a solid decade of professional work into marketing, it’s likely you aren’t the best person to say that social media marketing doesn’t work for you. If you don’t have a captivating pitch nailed down for your business, it’s likely that your B2B go-to-market strategy probably isn’t going to fare better than your failed B2C strategy.
To actually get on a success timeline with a destination, you must have the right people behind you that possess the knowledge and skills to invest informed effort.
You will spend money on some bad eggs — you will find people who promise you certain results and never deliver on them. This is a part of the process. You will lose some money, but you will also gain it back and profit on top of that when you find the right people to elevate your efforts.
Play The Game Like A Master
You can only start on a success timeline when you leverage a playbook that leads to logical results. If you are not making moves based on a playbook right now, it’s likely that you’re moving, but not to a specific destination.
The entrepreneurs who find success quickly are the ones who are impatient about nailing down the right formula to follow. These entrepreneurs understand that in order to get on a success timeline, they must first discover the formula that’ll piece together that narrative for them.
Success is a byproduct of executing a working formula consistently, over a long period of time.
Rather than chaotically moving your chess pieces every few months in search of immediate, yet temporary feelings of “winning”, take a step back and look at your board like a true master would — learn and strategize the moves in advance to win this particular match. Then make your moves methodically, with the end goal in mind.
This strategy will feel slow at times, but making moves informed by a master plan will get you to your end goal faster, with more results than whatever get-rich-quick play you try to entertain.
Don’t change your plan midway out of impatience or boredom, you will lose.
Don’t dabble with some shortcut someone told you about, you will lose.
Do change course when your instinct tells you something is wrong.
Do listen deeply, with humility and tune in for the feedback loop.
Pop Your Ego Bubble
When was the last time you reached out to someone outside of your business to give you feedback on how you’re running your business or your methodology of achieving your goals? When was the last time you shared something you were struggling with with a work friend to receive a gut check, or to get a second opinion?
Are you in your startup’s own bubble, or do you make an effort to constantly pop that bubble as soon as it forms so that you allow external feedback to reach you?
Successful people don’t let their own bias cake over and create an ego wall around their business.
They open themselves vulnerably to outside support, feedback, and adopt an all-hands-on-deck mentality when it comes to crafting their execution for the success they want to accomplish.
They introduce their minds to collaborations and explorations that will help them reflect on how to reach their goals, faster, and more efficiently. They humble themselves to the reality that they will not see all of their faults clearly, and that they need people who will help them discover their tender points and strategize around overcoming them.
Once you’re on the road of a success timeline, you must pursue self-mastery to truly take the journey home. Some tools to support “popping the bubble” are:
- Find an accountability partner whom you respect and can check in with weekly to give you honest feedback.
- Hire a business or life coach.
- Get into the habit of reaching out to work friends for advice and opinions.
- Join a mastermind group.
- Find mentors who will give you honest feedback and wisdom.
I write thoughtful, personal Friday morning emails called The Crux to help entrepreneurs turn their startup chase into a victory lap. Join here to get my best musings in your inbox.