Is this one thing holding you back from success?

Artist – Rayne Bradshaw

Let’s get down to basics. If you haven’t been able to start something of your own, create your own asset for for generating income, then you most likely haven’t conquered the one thing that stands in your way: fear of failure.

Felix Dennis, one of Britain’s wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs, said: “After a lifetime of making money and observing better men and women than I fall by the wayside, I am convinced that fear of failing in the eyes of the world is the single biggest impediment to amassing wealth.” Continue reading “Is this one thing holding you back from success?”

How the story of the giant can help you address the terror of starting your own business

(Copyright © 2015 by Rayne Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Rayne Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

To start something new that you know virtually nothing about can be terrifying. Staking your money and your life on starting a new venture of any size requires dealing with fear of the unknown. How do you overcome your fear of starting something from scratch?

Being able to see things in perspective can be valuable. With the right perspective you can control and manage your fears. When you do manage your fear you will be able to go into your new venture with quiet strength and confidence. Continue reading “How the story of the giant can help you address the terror of starting your own business”

Do you fear being creative?

(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

A person buys a second-hand business. He or she takes the business over from the previous owner and trades. Another person buys the same second-hand business but looks for ways to improve it, create new revenue streams and perhaps even ready it for possible expansion or franchising.

Which is the more innovative business person? Continue reading “Do you fear being creative?”

Is fear holding you back?

Fear Yourself
Fear Yourself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Sunday night we came back home and saw a car parked in the driveway. It looked as though the occupants were looking at a map because they had their car’s inside light on. But this is the only information that we had.

Gripped with a sudden terror that this could be a hijack set up, we drove away. We circled the suburb until we thought the coast was clear and went back home. The car was gone. We took our chances and drove quickly inside the entrance, closing the electric gate immediately. Continue reading “Is fear holding you back?”

If your competitor keeps you awake at night, you must read this now

Noordhoek (Photo credit: Paul Watson)

I’ve just woken up in a strange place, tossing and turning in the dark with the autumn wind howling against the mountain side. I’m staying for a few days in a cottage high up mountain, next to a vineyard, with a view down below of the Atlantic Ocean.

In the night with the cottage creaking from the wind all the primeval fears come out. Winter is coming and there could be trouble the way the global economy is going. Business is down in this coastal town where I’m staying. Walk through the malls and main road and you see windows plastered in paper – several businesses shut down.

A business-owner I was talking to yesterday mentioned that a competitor was setting up shop nearby. Although some business owners simply brush off competition with “there’s room for us all”, it’s never a simple matter to decide whether competitive threats will make an impact or not.

It’s easier to explain what’s happened than to predict. When a business fails people want to know why. Was it the competition, the owner, the bank, customers, technology? One of the reasons or a combination makes sense. But it’s a lot harder to forecast, estimate, predict, divine what can and will happen in the future.

If you look at the advice small business owners themselves give to fellow business owners, you’ll find three main themes:

1 Ignore your competition and get on with obsessing about your business and customers.
2 Analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Identify opportunities and minimise threats. Differentiate with personalised service.
3 Make friends with your competitors, love them, unite with them, help each other.

Two main distinct groups here: the aggressive warriors and the relationship builders.

For me who has had “don’t just stand there, do something!” drilled into my early survival and witnessed many businesses successes and failures, I would keep an eye on them but keep stepping up my value for customers.

Did you know that the McDonald’s brothers started out in the drive-in food business? Stiff competition and their increasingly high-cost, labour-intensive format made them decide to sell their drive-in business and open a new hamburger restaurant in one of the new strip shopping centres. That’s where they began to develop the concept of speed, lower prices and volume. The system they were about to build and innovate would be the beginning of a revolution in food service.

Competition is good because it keeps you on your toes. But what’s far better is innovation – finding ways to look after your customers and attracting new ones even if it means a step-change in your entire business model.

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Win your inner creative war

Creating anything of value requires getting started. But many things can get in the way. Who is the real enemy? What prevents us from achieving our best work?

It’s a problem we all face – getting started. Your idea for a business, a website, a sales letter, a charity, an e-book, a song, a poem, a painting lies dormant in your imagination waiting for you to bring it to life.

Someday you’ll get around to it. Or on the weekend … The weekend comes and goes and you’re still don’t have anything to show for it. What’s stopping you? How can you get started? Why can it be so hard to create what you feel in your bones you can do or long to do?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in a book titled “The War of Art” (not to be confused with “The Art of War, the ancient Chinese book on strategy) by Steven Pressfield (Grand Central Publishing, New York).

Facing the real enemy

In the first part of the book Pressfield defines the enemy: Resistance. “Resistance,” he says, “cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled.” It can be felt and its aim is to prevent us from doing our work whether it is to launch an entrepreneurial venture, pursue any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, a diet or health regimen and even an act that takes commitment of the heart such as to get married, have a child or weather a rocky patch in a relationship.”

Resistance, or self-sabotage, is often fuelled by fear (a good indicator as it tells us what to do) but has many forms such as drugs, shopping, TV, gossip and consuming unhealthy foods. Just about anything can keep us from starting our work. Resistance can involve the choice of a mate, choosing someone who has it or is successfully overcoming resistance. “Maybe it’s easier to endow our partner with the power that we in fact possess but are afraid to act upon,” he says.

Putting things off can be fatal

Procrastination, when it becomes a habit, can be fatal to our life’s work, putting of things until we reach our deathbed. But Pressfield says we are never without the power to alter our destiny. “This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Qualities that distinguish the pro

In his chapters on combating resistance, Pressfield covers turning pro which means, among other things, to show up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day, master the techniques of our job and receive praise or blame in the real world. He discusses the qualities of a professional such as acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses, preparing, not showing off and not hesitating to ask for help. It’s tough advice but turning pro requires discipline and self mastery.

Know the territory

An intriguing concept that Pressfield deals with in some length is that of territory and hierarchy. In a hierarchical orientation an individual competes against others, measures her achievement by rank within the hierarchy and acts for others. The artist, or creator, can’t look for others to evaluate her work. The artist or creator needs to operate territorially which means “he must do his work for its own sake”. Working in the territory, gives birth to the artist’s original creation that add to our lives, regardless of the obstacles faced.

Even though some of the advice can be daunting, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s not only for those who wish to get started on bringing whatever is important to them to life but also for those who work on projects for weeks, months or even years to bring their gifts to the world.