There are some basic, fundamental fears and early childhood conditioning that we have to overcome in order to be successful in any business endeavor. You may have learned all your life not to stand out, to be nice to everyone, and to be cautious around money, and that ingrained behavior will absolutely kill any chance of business success unless we unlearn it.
Hi, this is Steve Johnsen, and I’m going to talk to you today about three prerequisites to business success. There are three things that you need to absolutely solve before you can be successful in any kind of business. There may be some fundamental principles that we learned when we were young that need to be unlearned before we can be successful in business. So getting comfortable with these three things is going to be a prerequisite to business success.
The first of these is that you need to be willing to be seen. One of the things that we typically learn by the time we’re in junior high school is how to blend in. We learn how not to stand out. Often the programming for this starts even long before that from some training by our parents. For example, when you were little your mother may have told you, “Children should be seen and not heard.” We learn not to speak up when adults are present. Your mother may have also taught you, “Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t talk to strangers.” This becomes a foundational way that we view the world. Of course, your mother is very concerned for your health and safety, and when you’re four years old it may be a good idea. By the time you’re 10 or so you’re perfectly capable of staying safe when talking to strangers, but the programming gets in when you’re little, and you have this tape running in the back of your head, “Don’t talk to strangers. Talking to strangers is dangerous.” But guess what? As soon as you go into business, what do you need to do in order to get new clients? You’ve got to talk to strangers.
Then we get into junior high school, and we have this kind of phenomenon that goes on?junior high school can be so cliquish and everybody is struggling to find their place in the new school; one of the things that you learn is to blend in, to not stand out. You want to look like everybody else. You don’t want people to notice you. Attention is bad. It’s almost like we go back to the days of the jungle where you’re walking through a jungle full of lions and tigers and you don’t want anybody to notice you. So we adopt a personality. Our personality is really just a mask. It’s an image that we learn to project and it becomes our way of relating to other people. We get comfortable with that image, with that personality, and that becomes our coping mechanism. It’s our way to blend in and not be seen and not have too much attention paid to us. Over time, we get very comfortable with the way that people perceive us.
But now you started a business. You’re no longer an employee?you’re a business owner. You’re in the business of marketing and selling your services. And all of a sudden you have a new personality, a new image that you need to adopt. You need to be seen in a new way, and it can be very uncomfortable for you to have people get to know you in a new way and see you in a new light. Not only that, to have clients coming to you and to have your business grow, you have to be noticed. You have to be seen. You have to stand out. And that can be extremely uncomfortable because all of the habits that we’ve learned, to blend in and not stand out. So the first thing that you have to really get clear on in order to be successful in a business venture is you have to be willing to be seen. You have to be comfortable being seen in a new light, and you have to be willing to stand out and be noticed by people.
The second prerequisite to success in any business is finding your tribe, finding the group of people that really connect with you and want to work with you. When it comes down to it, ultimately people have a lot of choices when they hire a service provider. It used to be in the olden times when travel was difficult and you lived in a small village that maybe there was only one blacksmith in town. When people needed smithing work done they would come to the blacksmith?the only one in town?and that’s how you got your work.
Then as our economy grew and transportation grew, advertising became the way to go. You could advertise your way to success. You could advertise in newspapers, and later you could advertise on the radio, and then once we had our highway system you could advertise on billboards. And then you could advertise on television. Advertising still works to some extent, but today we have so many channels and people are connected practically 24/7, and advertising just doesn’t quite cut it anymore in the same way that it used to. It’s much harder to advertise your way to success. So today’s small businesses have become much more relationship-based. It no longer works to be the only game in town. And it’s no longer easy to advertise your way to success. So you need to build a tribe. This is a term that was coined by Seth Godin. Your tribe is a group of people that somewhat see the world the way you see it. And they like you, and they want to work with you. You have to discover the kind of people you want to serve?What are they like? What is their situation??and realize that these people want to find you too.
Discovering your tribe or finding your tribe is really a matter of a being clear who you want to serve and making yourself visible in connecting with them, being available to them, serving them, and being seen by them. It’s also about being clear that it’s okay to not work with people who are not in your tribe. There are always going to be people who don’t see the world the way you do, and really don’t connect with the way that you work, and just don’t “click.” Or maybe they’re in a different kind of situation from your ideal client. And it’s okay to let those go. The more you can get clear on who your tribe is and connect with them on a consistent basis, the more successful you will be in business.
The third prerequisite to business success is that you need to get into a comfortable relationship with money, or as my friend and colleague Larry Fried say, to “heal your relationship with money.” Money (at least in our society) is just a piece of paper, or maybe a little metal coin, but even more likely, it’s a construct in our minds of something in a bank. It’s ones and zeros on a computer. It’s really just a figment of our imagination, but we have so much emotional energy wrapped up in something as simple as a piece of paper or a simple record in a database. These thoughts and emotions around money invariably result in money problems.
Most of us have at least some strange ideas about money. Some people love money. And some people are afraid of money because they’re afraid of loving money.
Maybe you have conflicting emotions about money. You realize you want it?to be successful in business is to make a lot of money. But when you were little your mother told you that “We’re not the kind of people that have a lot of money” or, “Rich people are selfish, or mean.” So we have these conflicts around money. And I can tell you from personal experience it is it is well nigh unto impossible to be really successful in business without resolving these internal issues and conflicts around money.
I’m not suggesting that you have to decide to be a money lover, or to meditate every morning about “wealth flowing in,” or aspire to be super rich (whatever that means). But you’ve got to be comfortable being paid for your services. You’ve got to be comfortable with the whole construct of the exchange of value in serving other people. If you’re in a relationship, the exchange has to be two-way. If you serve people well, you have to be well-compensated for those services. Otherwise, people are not going to be able to continue to work with you. They’re going to be uncomfortable with the exchange. And you’re not going to be able to grow your business. You’re not going to be able to serve people the way that you want to unless you’re well-compensated for it.
So to be successful in business you have to resolve your conflicts around money, and get into a comfortable relationship with money, and get comfortable being well-paid for your services. You also have to be comfortable investing in your business. If you’re afraid to invest your money in your business, it’s also going to be hard to grow your business the way you want to.