I’ve spoken with thousands of entrepreneurs, worked with hundreds, and went into business with a handful over the last 10 years. It’s been a wild ride. A fun ride. Lots of ups… some definite downs… and one common thread that I’ve seen all successful entrepreneurs and businesses have that others don’t.
More on that in a bit. First, let me tell you a story… my story.
My first year out of college was both the toughest and best year all rolled into one. Graduating with degrees in business and entrepreneurship, from a college known for churning out nurses and engineers doesn’t exactly give you the best start in the business world.
That first year I decided to take a risk. My wife and I were married the summer after we graduated college and we headed up to Portland where she could pursue her master’s degree in the medical field. My “plan” to pay the bills (if you could call it that) was simple. Move into a big city that I’ve never lived in. With almost no income and little money to my name. Take my fancy education on marketing and entrepreneurship… and start a business helping other businesses market themselves better. Simple right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I gave myself one year to figure it out before I would have to settle for a 9-5 job and work for the “man”. I had no clue how I’d do it, but made the decision that I’d make it happen somehow.
That year was rough. It was an awesome kind of rough… and I ended the year $12,000 poorer than when I started (thank you Citibank for graciously letting me borrow your money for the cheap rate of 18%).
But what I gained during that year was priceless.
What I lacked in money… I gained in something far more valuable. That year I honed my “entrepreneurial mindset”.
If you are an entrepreneur at the truest sense of the word… or know a successful entrepreneur… you’ve probably noticed that we think a bit differently. When others see lack, we see abundance. When others criticize, we empower. When others find reasons something shouldn’t work, we find ways it will work (or we find a better way). When others are hoping for something good to happen, we’re making those good things happen.
Most of all, the one thing that every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has in common is… when others give up because something is too hard or results didn’t come fast enough… we stick with it until it works. Simply because we know the pain of giving up early and settling in life far outweighs the pain of hard work, dedication, and focus. Yes, we may fail sometimes. But not one time have I ever regretted failing at something I tried. Every regret I’ve had is because I didn’t even try in the first place.
It’s a different type of mindset. Most of the world falls in the first group. Very few stick with things long enough to make it into the second group.
I’ve seen it too many times.
Two people who have identical resources, access to identical information, and are working on very similar projects.
One succeeds and the other doesn’t. Why?
More times than not the person who succeeded didn’t give up… even when they wanted to, and the other one did. And the really sad thing is many times people give up when they’re just inches from a breakthrough… but they can’t see past the struggle.
That first year I learned that the most important asset any of us have is our mindset. How we look at the world and how we interact with the world is how our world will turn out.
Always look for the negativity, what you’re lacking, resources you don’t have, or why things won’t work… that’s how your world will be. Even when I could barely pay my bills… and the bills I was paying were on a credit card… I remember never feeling negative. I remember always having the mindset of… “It’s not a matter of if I’ll make it… but a matter of when”.
When we can adopt that mindset in business and life it’s amazing the opportunities and successes that come our way.
So how does my story end? What did I do after that first year? You’ll have to read my next post to see how I bootstrapped my first company past the million-dollar mark, and how you can too.
Join me and other entrepreneurs each month at our Entrepreneur Pubtalk here in Roseburg. Go to www.UmpquaEntrepreneurs.com for more info.