Written by Ian Sparks - Co-Founder & COO
The last decade has seen much said about various trends and "threats" to the economic status quo that has existed since the fall of the Berlin wall, including: the rise of the gig economy, job-hopping Millennials single-handedly destroying multiple industries, and the emphasis on the "grind" or "hustle" in lieu of genuine skillsets or business acumen.
Since co-founding a company that purposely ventured into a billion dollar industry with a shoe-string budget and a small team working up to three other jobs each, we've come to appreciate and understand the "hustle" first-hand, as millions of other small business owners have as well.
But here's the reality and perhaps unpopular opinion: the "hustle" isn't just a social media byword; it's not easy, success won't come with hashtags alone, and let's face it - you'll need help, and you may need to change your mindset.
Below are some things I've learned throughout my military career and within the first year of starting a new business that have helped me relax and maintain the poise needed to continue growth.
Many of these are familiar as they are often brought up by many different sources, but I'll try to offer my own insight:
1. Fight Like You Train - Practice Like You Play
If you played competitive sports, or participated in a large field training exercise with your platoon, then you've heard some variation of this saying. It will get drilled into your head enough that to some it may lose meaning.
It's more than a saying, though. An attitude I personally have encountered on numerous occasions that continues to infuriate me is a mindset of "I'm an entrepreneur" being enough to make a venture or business successful.
Let's clear the air: the world owes you nothing and will grant you no leeway.
The hours you put in, the research you do, and the decisions you make are what will make or break your success as an entrepreneur or business owner.
Be humble in practice or be humbled by reality.
2. Seek (Unbiased) Mentorship From Multiple Sources
Finding a source of mentorship for yourself and your business is itself an easy task - family, friends, coworkers, peers, and supervisors can all provide invaluable guidance and insight to help you grow and by extension, grow your business.
The trick becomes finding a source that tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Some may be critical of every step and decision you make, which can also not necessarily be helpful.
Ask questions - dig into critique and compliments alike. Basic "Keep it up" or "I don't like this" comments won't suffice.
3. Are You The Smartest Person In The Room? Time To Re-Evaluate
This is a common trope that has been reiterated hundreds if not thousand of times. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and you'll succeed. But let's ask ourselves - how many of us truly have thought someone was smarter than us in a business we are running, or were confident enough to acknowledge it?
I believe it's difficult for ego to be swept aside in order to truly recognize when there is someone who may have more direct knowledge or experience in something that we are passionately involved in, and therefore we may be slow to admit that we should be seeking help or further guidance.
Challenge yourself to take a step back and recognize this.
This also ties in to....
4. Ego And Narcissisim Suffocate Self Improvement & Growth
One thing I will always be grateful for is the experience of working with some truly amazing individuals who have accomplished incredible things - leading non-profits that have helped bring awareness and healing to millions of people, to military leaders who have led troops into combat and ensured the safety and well-being of those around them at all times. They remain humble, confident, but open-minded and flexible to the thoughts of those in their inner circle.
These experiences have taught me to keep my ego in check - there is ALWAYS someone out there who knows more than me or has experienced more than I have, in some way. This applies to anyone and everyone.
5. The Road To Success Isn't Paved - You Need To Lay The Brick Yourself
Here is the dark reality behind the enthusiasm of starting a business venture: 20% fail within their first year; 30% in their second; 50% after five years, and finally, 70% of business fail in their 10th year.
Statistics like those quoted above sound (and are) scary. Why do I share this? Because it's important to stay grounded at all times and realize that success isn't doesn't come without the scars, and except in the rarest of circumstances, isn't swift.
One of the downsides of social media and the associated influencer culture is that it tends to streamline what "success" actually looks like - you don't see the blood or the tears. You certainly won't see broken friendships or relationships, the struggle to keep a family content during the strive for success, or the associated financial stress.
How do we lay the bricks to success? From me personally, I utilize the points explained above to help lay these stepping stones. Patience, poise, humility, and confidence in action served me well during my tours overseas. Working with likeminded partners in Battle Bars continues to serve me well in the civilian world, and I believe success is attainable for anyone who puts serious consideration into themselves and their thought processes.
What do you think? Do you hold multiple jobs, own your own business, or are a consultant? What advice would you give to others?
Let us know in the comments below!