Most entrepreneurs will tell you their original business idea bloomed from a passion. That passion is different for all of us—a baker might love the art of cake decorating, while a hair salon owner might love the creative aspects of style. Passion can drive you to dream big and start your business; you want to love what you do and harness your passion to benefit others.
While passion may fuel the creation of many businesses, getting a business off the ground and turning it into a success requires willpower. Each day, willpower influences you in your role as an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of drive to start and run your own business. The invoices, the bills, the day-to-day grind—most of us can agree these aren’t passionate endeavors. But they must be done, even when you don’t feel like it.
The top secret to success as an entrepreneur: willpower. Don’t worry if you feel your own willpower is weak; willpower is a learned skill. Read on to learn how to beef up your willpower in order to aid your success in business, and in life.
Accept Full Responsibility
According to author Katie Morton, “People with extraordinary willpower fully accept the statement, ‘I alone am responsible for my actions, my habits, and my life.’” Take responsibility and accept what you can control. That makes it easier to follow through for positive momentum for your business.
Perhaps you’re having a hair-on-fire day where nothing is going right; your marketing guru is out with the flu, the coffeepot is on the fritz, and you forgot to pay the internet provider. It’s easy to let a series of mishaps serve as an excuse to shirk responsibility. It’s not the mishaps or the bad days that are the problem—everyone has those—it’s the excuses and the lack of responsibility that lead many entrepreneurs down the road to failure.
Starting your own business requires a certain fortitude. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for your success or failure, and your decisions and actions as a business owner have a direct bearing on that. Showing up and checking tasks off your list is as necessary as creative vision and passion, despite the fact that it’s not always fun.
Learn From Mistakes
One tenet that’s true of successful CEOs: They’re human, therefore they’re flawed. Nobody’s perfect, and part of not being perfect is accepting mistakes. Learning how to succeed, despite making mistakes, is a willpower secret all great entrepreneurs must learn. It worked for Steve Jobs; it can work for you.
The temptation, of course, is to sweep mistakes under the rug. It’s a natural human tendency to want to put failure behind us as quickly as possible. But in order to succeed, it’s critical you explore your past mistakes. Don’t dwell on the negative; instead, use constructive thinking to effectuate change and learn from your experiences.
Making mistakes is scary, without a doubt; especially in the context of business when so much of your future is on the line. The biggest mistake, however, is allowing mistakes to paralyze you. Use your experience to power your future. Analyze what went wrong and how you can do better next time. The goal is not perfection, but growth and positive change.
Be Comfortable With Discomfort
As an entrepreneur, you’ll experience some discomfort as your business grows. This may mean lean finances, long hours, or multiple sales calls rejections.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to tolerate a certain level of discomfort requires willpower. Learning how to work effectively, even in less-than-stellar circumstances, helps you and your business grow.
Rise to Meet Challenges
Obstacles are the rule, not the exception, when you’re running your own business. Instead of giving into inertia, using willpower to overcome obstacles may open doors of opportunity you never could have foreseen.
The idea for Dropbox came from overcoming an obstacle as Drew Houston recounts, “I could see my USB drive sitting on my desk at home, which meant I couldn’t work. I sulked for 15 minutes and then, like any self-respecting engineer, I started writing some code. I had no idea what it would eventually become.” Houston solved a problem and turned his idea into a billion dollar international brand.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
You may be thinking emotions have no place in business. That’s not entirely true; you’re a business owner, not a robot. Companies are made up of humans and all the associated emotions that come as part of that package. To expect yourself to be able to shut down all emotion in a business context is simply not realistic, nor is it an effective means of achieving success.
To quote Albert Einstein, "Discontent is the first necessity of progress." Knowing that something feels “wrong” or “off” might be the first step in moving toward a solution that feels right. If you’re busy trying to get things done while ignoring your gut, you might not realize it when you miss the mark or work towards the wrong goals.
Use Others’ Success to Fuel Your Own
Keeping up with the Joneses is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel dissatisfied with any level of success you achieve. There will always be someone who has something shinier, newer, or bigger. Constant comparison sets you up on a hamster wheel of discontent.
One way to reframe this type of thinking into something action-oriented is to use others’ success to light your own fire. Use willpower to emulate the skills and behaviors you admire. Don’t waste precious energy on envy; instead, channel that energy toward moving toward your own goals.
Above All, Practice Tenacity
Part of exercising willpower is avoiding the desire to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Use creative problem solving to work your way through problems, rather than quitting.
As with anything worth doing, strengthening your willpower skills takes time. If you practice these principals despite setbacks, you’ll be well on your way to developing the willpower skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur.
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