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What Really Makes Or Breaks Most Entrepreneurs

We spend so much time trying to change ourselves we never really focus on changing what may matter most.

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PC | Bruce Mars
PC | Bruce Mars

What makes an entrepreneur successful? Hard work, purpose, experience, intelligence, mindset—sure, all of these are typical qualities of a successful person. And, there are a lot of entrepreneurs who have a healthy dose of all of them, yet not everyone is equally successful. When reflecting on success or lack of it, not many people evaluate their circumstances in which they are operating. However, your circumstances can often make or break you. 

Consider Tom Brady for example. He won six NFL Super Bowls as the quarterback for the New England Patriots. Many fans believe he is the GOAT, “greatest of all time,” while others believe he won those championships because of the team, the head coach who led the team, and the commitment of the team owner. In other words, Brady’s abilities combined with his circumstances perfectly and collectively produced such amazing results. Would another quarterback produce the same results? Unlikely. But still, it does make you wonder how things could have been different had Brady’s circumstances not been so perfect. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs fail to consider circumstances when evaluating their performance. And, at the end of the day, it’s circumstances that play an enormous part in one’s success…or lack thereof. 

Think for a moment about something that you are working toward and ask yourself the following 3 questions. (To get the most out of the exercise, write down your answers.)

  1. What are the current circumstances that impact your performance?
  2. What circumstances are advantageous? 
  3. What circumstances are disadvantageous? 

We spend so much time trying to change ourselves we never really focus on changing our circumstances. Depending on who you are, and the circumstances engulfing you, it may benefit you or limit your ability to perform. Once you are aware your circumstances are negatively impacting your performance, you must do everything you can to alter them. On the flip side, there are many aspects you do control that can improve your circumstance and better results.

Let’s explore this from an entrepreneur’s perspective. Selecting an industry that is rapidly expanding will be easier than a business in an industry that is contracting. Think brick and mortar retail versus online retail. Your online store could be up running in no time with turnkey solutions, like SquareSpace and ShipBob. Your cost would be low and your flexibility high, and your customer access would be unlimited. However, setting up a traditional storefront would be expensive and customer access would be mostly local – not to mention likely operating at a limited capacity due to the pandemic. Both are retail businesses, but ecommerce is rapidly expanding while brick and mortar businesses struggle. Another example of the same industry with different models would be the news. Let’s say you want to focus on being the source for good news about equality in America. If you decide to print a newspaper, your cost would be significantly higher than sending it out digitally. Same with your content. Do you hire your own writers or use artificial intelligence to aggregate relevant content from almost unlimited sources? These are important decisions that impact your circumstance. If you decide you and two of your friends will write all of the content, you have created a different model than if you used AI technology to find the best stories.  Although both companies are in the news business, their overall circumstances in which they operate will be very different. 

Where you start your company will impact a lot of factors. For example, your access to top talent, venture capital, and financial incentives. The quality of life for employees and their costs to live will be impacted by your decisions. It is rare for entrepreneurs to create a list of pros and cons for where they are starting a business, but why not? This may be one of the biggest factors for creating optimal circumstances for your business’s performance. It may also be the time to re-evaluate your need for a centralized workforce altogether. The global pandemic forced knowledge workers to go remote. People saw an increase in productivity and high job satisfaction ratings, resulting in many companies, such as Twitter, allowing employees to work remotely, permanently. This trend will certainly help many entrepreneurs keep their costs down while still attracting global talent. It may even accelerate market penetration for new businesses because you can strategically deploy small clusters of employees in multiple cities that are a part of your go-to market strategy. 

Your role in your company will most likely have the biggest impact on your circumstances. It might make sense that, since you came up with the idea and started the company, you should be the CEO. Right? It’s kind of like if you wrote a great playscript, you should be the lead actor. At first, it might make sense. Well, kind of. In the beginning, you will probably be the only person that really understands how the main character should think, feel, and fully express the desired story arc. So you take the lead role. You get your friends at the local theater group to join the cast. They love the script. They are tremendously excited about what it could be. After a lot of tireless hours of rehearsal, you finally unveil the play to your first audience. For the most part, everybody likes it. However, it doesn’t really turn out the way you and the cast thought it would. The reality is, you’re a very average actor, who wrote a great play. Does that mean your play can’t be sensational? No. You just need to have the right people in the right roles, which means you probably shouldn’t be the lead actor. This is very similar to the decision you’ll face as a founder. You came up with the idea, sure. You recruited an enthusiastic team to help you build your product. It’s good, but has a lot of unmet potential. You have to really evaluate if you are in the right role to build a great company. The role of CEO may make sense at first, but you have to keep evaluating it as your company grows. Regardless of your decisions, it will have a tremendous impact on the circumstance you create for your business to meet its potential. 

Your company will be defined by your role. However, it will be shaped more by the people and culture you put in place in the long run. They have a huge influence on creating the right circumstances for the company to succeed.

You may make all the right decisions to create the best circumstances to reach your goal and it all can change in an instant. Something that you had no control of, such as a global pandemic, may abruptly disrupt or destroy everything you worked for. These events can be catastrophic, such as a tornado; or can be life threatening, like cancer; or emotionally debilitating, like the death of  a loved one. Though, keep in mind, not all uncontrollable events are bad (such as winning the lottery or getting stuck in an elevator with your future boss). These events may transform our lives. Some good and some bad. They may accelerate our path to success. However, they may slow it, stop it, or deflate us as well. Maybe so much, we stop trying. When things get bad, that is when our Purpose Pillars™ can support us. If we nurtured them along the way, we can return to them at any point we feel lost. 

Now, prioritize what changes you can make in your circumstances to accelerate hitting your goals. And, create the plan to get there.

This story originally appeared on PeteWilkins.me

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