Adulthood may not be panning out as you expected. You probably feel as though all you do is work, work, and more work! Because your job likely dominates your life, your passions and motivations should be reflected in your time spent working. This is a core component to your overall happiness. If you’ve experienced being miserable at work, you know how quickly it can affect every other aspect of daily living. Is the answer to finding a work-life paradise running your own business, doing what you love, being your own boss and… getting paid for it?
Many people have a romanticized and glamorous view of what it is to run a business. They picture Entrepreneur Life as endless parties and money flowing in effortlessly. Social media contributes to this false image by showcasing successful entrepreneurs in their best attire, traveling the world and sipping sexy martini cocktails on a beach in Bali. However, those who have a more realistic understanding of the hard work involved… tend to go to the other extreme and believe that they, themselves, lack many qualities, such as talent, intelligence or education.
After running three successful businesses, I can attest to you that both groups of people are wrong.
I have identified five essential qualities that will help you determine whether you are cut out to be your own boss. If, at the end of this article, you realize that running your own business is NOT for you, don’t despair! There are pluses and minuses to everything in life, and this is no different. Working for someone else at a job you love, collecting your salary, and then punching out instead of thinking about work 24/7 has many benefits, too. Ask yourself the following questions to gain a deeper understanding of the right path for you.
In addition to the obvious passion for your business focus, here are the qualities that any successful entrepreneur must have:
Integrity is the powerful concept that your feelings, intentions, actions, and promises are aligned. If you build your business around true service to others and align every element with this value, you have integrity. In hypnotherapy we call this congruence; when everything about you is aligned, you become the most magnetic, hypnotic person in the world. The same goes for a business. If you provide true care for your clients and offer them the best quality products and services, you will be attractive to them. They will naturally have trust in you and will spread the word about you to others.
Unfortunately, many businesses are focused on how to get money quickly, and the quality of their services is low. In this age of social media and information accessibility, it is so easy to cut and paste someone else’s ideas and make them look like yours. And maybe these businesses will make a couple of bucks in the beginning, but customers will soon see through the surface and will turn away from them. In time, social media and internet access work against businesses with these practices, as customers can quickly bring the reputation of a business down in cyberspace. Ask yourself, do you have integrity? Can you truly focus on your customers’ needs and consider how they will benefit, instead of putting your own benefits first?
You don’t need to be the smartest or most talented person to be successful, but you do need to be consistent. I have witnessed many incredible ideas fall apart because they lack this one quality. For me, consistency means you show up… day after day, month after month, year after year… whether you have a dreadful day or a delightful day, whether there is awful weather, or you would just rather sleep in. Even when you feel like nothing is really happening in your business, you just keep showing up— consistently. It doesn’t have to take several years to see the results, especially if you have all of the steps aligned. However, even when you’ve been in business for a while, there will be days when you don’t want to do anything, or when you have a lack of self-confidence or motivation. You still need to show up. Are you willing to show up, even when you feel like everything has fallen apart?
Flexibility is an act of bravery. You might invest in building something for a very long time, but then one day, suddenly realize that your audience does not want what you’ve built anymore. Or maybe the services you loved so much do not produce good results, so you need to change or discard them all together. Not being attached to your own ideas is the key. Most people who are successful in business have started various projects that failed, but had the strength to pick themselves up, adapt or move away from them, and start doing something else. Are you flexible enough to change, as often as needed?
Growth is critical to sustaining your business. You MUST constantly grow to be several steps ahead of your clients, because your clients grow with you. Are you ready to invest time and money in your personal education and development on a consistent basis? For example, in my calendar, I have at least one day per week during which I work on improving, bettering, or educating myself. Are you willing to invest in this process?
Authenticity is deeply connected to integrity in the sense that you walk your talk. Many businesses do not take this into account, because they look at the success of other people and try to replicate it. “Spirituality,” for instance, is trending these days, but few genuinely live by the principles they preach or apply them in daily practice. We live in the era when there is an abundance of information and we recycle posts, ideas and services from each other, hoping that our audience will react with the same excitement about them as they did towards the businesses we “borrowed” these ideas from…. WRONG. Your customers ALWAYS sense if you are authentic or not. Are you able to show your customers your authentic self?
I invite you to look at yourself realistically and honestly. Do you have integrity? Do you have consistency? Do you have flexibility? Do you have the desire to grow on a regular basis? And will you be authentic in every aspect of your business? Did you answer yes to all five of these questions… not just one, not three, but all five? Each quality is necessary to create the flow in your business. If your business and personal life are aligned, you won’t have a separation or fractured nature of yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I in the same place in my business as I am in my personal life? Am I the same person?” If you answered yes, you have all the right tools to build a successful business!
This article was published in Scene Chicago