Joe Polish is founder & President of Piranha Marketing, Inc. Considered one of the most effective direct-response marketing experts in the world. To discover more ways to recession-proof your business and create an ELF Business (Easy, Lucrative and Fun) visit http://www.4ElfBiz.com
My two favorite definitions of “entrepreneur” are from a 19th-century French economist and a present-day American capitalist.
“The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” – Jean-Baptiste Say. “An entrepreneur solves problems for a profit.” – T. Harv Eker.
Entrepreneurs are the producers of the world. They create something from nothing. They take ideas and dreams, and they bring them to reality. They are the innovators and the risk takers. They are the ones who make our lives better, and a lot more fun.
Mindset and action
What differentiates an entrepreneur from a non-entrepreneur is mindset and action. It’s the mindset that you know you are absolutely and solely responsible for the results that you produce.
My friend Dan Sullivan talks about this in terms of two economies: The results economy and the time and effort economy. The time and effort economy is where you get paid for the hours that you put in, and the results economy is where you get paid for your results.
However, as an entrepreneur, you cannot confuse activity with accomplishment.
There are people out there who work really, really hard but do not make any money. And there are some people out there who don’t work hard at all and are very wealthy.
And a lot of that is just having the right capabilities, the right resources, and the right understanding.
Entrepreneurs who achieve the greatest level of success are not necessarily the hardest workers; they are the smartest workers. They are the ones who believe, for one thing, that when it comes to selling, the best prospect to be in front of you is someone who is pre-interested, pre-motivated, pre-qualified, and pre-disposed to doing business with you.
Are you a treadmill or a ladder? There are two types of business owners: Treadmill entrepreneurs and ladder entrepreneurs. Treadmill entrepreneurs work extremely hard. They are constantly running, but ultimately they end up exhausted and not really getting anywhere. Ladder entrepreneurs are those who use that same effort to get themselves up to a new, higher level in business.
Dr. Ed Hallowell, the author of “CrazyBusy,” shares his research about ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and how most overworked entrepreneurs exhibit the symptoms of these conditions. And just as with those who truly have ADHD and go untreated, the “untreated” entrepreneurs go about running their businesses and lives like they are driving around with square wheels.
This is much harder than it really needs to be. Once a treadmill entrepreneur can round those wheels out, his/her life starts working better. It runs smoother, and you get much farther with less effort.
So the question is: Do you feel like you are running on square wheels? Moving forward, but it sure takes a heck of a lot of effort!
Get off the treadmill
There are solid procedures you can follow in order to get off the treadmill and onto the ladder, finding true success.
Here are three strategies you must implement in your business.
1. Measure and track results
Everything measured improves. And everything measured and reported improves exponentially. This is a universal law that applies to business and personal growth, that when you actively track “data”that you want to improve, you will make it better with that consistent focus.
But when you get more serious and make yourself accountable to others, your results improve even more. For instance, someone who really wants to quit smoking will tell others he is quitting. The peer pressure and support helps to motivate and monitor him.
An entrepreneur can use this law to his advantage by tracking the results he wants to improve, and finding someone to “report” to. This includes revenue, expenses, profit margins, referrals, testimonials, complaints, and “lifestyle” results like days off, family time, and personal income.
Sit down and ask yourself what areas of your business (or personal) life you would like to see improvement in. What “data” can you measure and track on a regular basis that gives you a snapshot of how you are doing in these areas?
Whom can you “report” to on a consistent basis to hold yourself accountable?
2. Master new knowledge
No matter how hard you try, you cannot build a million-dollar company with $100,000 skills.
This is the trap that many treadmill entrepreneurs fall into. Many blame the industry, the economy, or where they live as reasons their company is not succeeding. In most cases, though, it’s not outside factors that are keeping them down, but inside ones.
When I was struggling in my 20s with my cleaning company, I believed it was not possible to be really successful in this business. I was living off credit cards and going to stockbroker school at night because I wanted to go into another business where I could make more money.
Then, a friend from high school invited me to go jet-skiing with a rich friend of his. My main goal was not to spend the day jet-skiing but to hang around someone who could teach me something about building success in a better industry than cleaning.
This guy had made millions in real estate, and I knew he could point me in the right direction. I told him about my carpet cleaning business and that it wasn’t doing well and I wanted to do something else and I wondered if he had any suggestions. He asked if there was anyone else in the carpet cleaning business who was making money. I said there were a couple of companies in the Phoenix area that do over $1 million a year; to me, that was a lot of money. But that these companies had been around a long time and were established and much bigger than I was.
I told him there was a lot of competition and all customers cared about was price, and that I worked hard, was trained and IICRC-certified, and did everything right, but I was broke and tired. So I must just be in the wrong business. His reply was one of those defining moments that changed my life.
He said: “If there are other people in the industry who are making money and you are not, there is nothing wrong with the business. There is something wrong with you.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear. He explained that I didn’t own a business; I owned a job, and that if I changed to a new industry I’d spend a few years learning the technical side, and then I’d continue to repeat the same bad business habits that caused me to be failing in the cleaning industry.
The answer was to learn fundamental business knowledge to make my cleaning business work, and then I could take those fundamental skills to any industry I wanted to and create success. I felt it in my gut when I heard that advice, so I knew it was hitting on the truth.
I made a decision that I was not going to get out of my carpet cleaning business until I figured how to make it work. I put a challenge to myself that I would figure it out. I had a lot of goals and dreams, but I lacked the skills to get me there. I didn’t even understand what skills exactly I needed to be looking for. I set out on a quest to transform my company, to learn what I needed to learn. And through books, seminars and advice from other successful people, I became a student of business success.
Getting off the treadmill starts with a mindset shift. My belief system was wrong. I believed that circumstances outside of me were limiting my business success, and that I was a victim of those circumstances. Once I changed my mindset from the problem being outside of me to inside of me and took complete responsibility, my situation changed dramatically. I worked to master the skills to climb up to the next level, and the next, and am still climbing. Ask yourself: Which skills, resources, or talents would your business need to become two, three, or four times its current size or income? Where can you acquire that knowledge?
3. Multiply your effort
Many business owners get stuck on the treadmill because they are dead-set on being in control of everything, or even worse, being entirely a one-man (or woman) show. That’s a certain recipe for a life-draining job. The mindset shift is from being “in control” to being “in charge.” That shift from treadmill to ladder; from working harder to working smarter; comes down to boosting productivity and leverage. Productivity is maximum results with the least amount of time. Leverage is maximum results with the least amount of effort.
Business survival or business success?
“Work” has two different meanings.
It either means hard effort: “I have to work.” Or, it has a flow to it: “This just works.” The word changes based on how you want to look at it. Business isn’t any different. It can be hard, or it can flow, depending on how you decide to look at it. Many business owners are in business just to survive, instead of to succeed. The treadmills run on negative, fear-based energy, and the ladders are propelled by positive, goal-based energy. Once you make that shift, you have the power to take your business from ground level to as high as you want it to go.