The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
A few days ago, someone asked me, "Walt, you’ve been doing workshops and consulting for some years now. What do you think stops people from starting their own business?"
I didn’t even have to think about it. I replied: "It’s their belief level."
It’s that simple. You might think it’s (lack of) intelligence, finances, information or some other reason that prevents people from becoming entrepreneurs. While these may be a person’s stated reasons for a their reluctance to start a business, the reality is a bit different.
People don’t shy away from business because of their actual intelligence level, their actual level of finances, or the actual level of information and skill they have concerning the business process. No. They fear, and talk themselves out of starting businesses because of what they believe about their intelligence, finances and skill. That’s a subtle, but major distinction. The belief about a situation often has no bearing on the reality of a situation. Or, stated another way, the belief about a situation becomes a person’s reality of their situation.
The truth, however, is:
If they believe it is possible for people like them, they will do it—regardless of what others think.
If they believe a thing makes sense to do, they will do it—regardless of what others think.
If they believe that something can be done, they will do it—regardless of how smart, how capitalized, or how informed they are.
If you’ve ever entertained the idea of starting a business but talked yourself out of it, then whatever reason you gave, think about this:
If you believed that a down economy was the best time to start a business, you would act differently. Many fortunes were built during America’s Great Depression.
If you believed that money was NOT a pre-requisite to starting a business, you would act differently. According to the press, when Colonel Sanders started his first chicken restaurant, his only income was a $105/month Social Security check.
If you believed that high-school dropouts do better in business, you would act differently. Director Quentin Tarantino, automobile business mogul Henry Ford, McDonald’s founder Ray Croc, comedian George Carlin, news reporter Peter Jennings, and serial entrepreneur Richard Branson all dropped out of high school. (Of course, a good education helps in business. If you’re in school, I’m not encouraging you to drop out. However, if you’re at an age or in a situation where going back to high school might be a little challenging, then know that you can still succeed.)
If you believed—I mean really believed—that "people like you" make the best entrepreneurs, you would act differently. (Insert your identity of choice here, i.e. women, men, island people, old people, etc.) Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and hues.
No, really. Stop and think about that for a minute. How would you behave if all the things you currently think are holding you back were actually the perfect set of circumstances for your success?
WHAT DO THEY KNOW?
Yes, businesses are closing. But there are also businesses opening up. What do these people know that you don’t? Perhaps nothing. Maybe they simply believe something different about who they are, and are not bound by self-limiting beliefs about their history, their culture or their abilities.
The only thing that history and culture teaches you is what people have believed to be true, not necessarily everything that was actually true or possible.
Everyone believed that the 100 meter race could not be run in under 9.77 seconds, until Jamaican Usain Bolt proved otherwise at 9.69 seconds (yep, I had to sneak that one in!).
Now, while it is true that a certain level of thinking ability, a certain level of money, and a certain level of correct information is helpful in business, the actual amount required is far less than what you might expect. Not to be mean, mind you, but there are a lot of not-too-smart, under-capitalized and uninformed people who have launched businesses that have become successful.
THE TASK AT HAND
So, that makes my task—and yours if you wish to encourage entrepreneurship—a simple one.
Any training course, coaching, consulting, workshop or advice must take the student/participant through a three-step mental process. If you want to change a person’s course of action, or have them follow-through with a new course of action, he/she must in their mind say, and believe, the following three concepts:
1. "Me too."
2. "This makes sense."
3. "I can do this."
"Me too" is a person’s way of saying, "I’m just like him/her," or "I am in the same situation," or more generally, "I can relate." In other words, if say, your goal is to influence an Eskimo to start a business, then typically (not always, but generally), the best person for the job is another Eskimo. If your audience is women, then get a woman to present the information or to give a testimonial. The more aspects of a person’s identity that you can relate to, the better will be your success at moving them to action.
Quick story: When I was getting into network marketing, I was at a convention attended by hundreds of people. Many young men spoke of their success in the business, and my interest was piqued. An electrical engineer spoke of how he was able to walk away from his job, and I felt a bit of a kinship, since at the time I was a frustrated civil engineer. But it wasn’t until Kempton Griffith, a Jamaican, spoke, that things changed instantly. Upon hearing that familiar accent, I was able to relate in a way that the other speakers could not evoke. Kempton was older than I was, on a different career track, had a wife and kids—all things to which I couldn’t relate. However, being a fellow Jamaican was my required selling point. I signed up that very moment, dove headfirst into the business, and two years later walked away from my civil engineering job, and well, the rest is....
One Chamorro, Carolinian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Russian, Filipino or Korean business success story influences others. People relate to another person’s language, culture, appearance, gender, age family ties and life experience. Getting them to see themselves in you (or in the desired image of success) is step number one.
THIS MAKES SENSE
Once you get a person to say "me too," then your next step is to present the desired course of action in a way that makes sense. People will not embark on a course of action that doesn’t make sense. Conversely, they are more likely to embark on a course of action that does make sense.
It may seem obvious, but many consultants and workshop presenters assume that their clients or participants share their own or very limited reasons for why starting a business makes sense.
People want to know does this make sense in a global context? Is this the right time, and set of conditions?
They also want to know if it make sense in a personal context? The personal reasons it makes sense will differ from person to person. For some it may be for patriotic or cultural reasons. For others it may be financial freedom. For still others it may be for their children. Others want to see the financial projections before they say it makes sense.
So, does it make sense to start a business now while real estate prices are lower? Does it make sense to position yourself early for an eventual economic turnaround? Does it make sense to establish a legacy for your children? Does it make sense in order to maintain control of the economy of these islands? You tell me.
The more it makes sense, the more likely it will be to get done. Does this make sense?
I CAN DO THIS
Finally, once a person can relate, and once it makes sense, the next step is for her to see herself performing in the new role. A person learns to drive by getting in the driver’s seat and driving.
Breaking down the required tasks into a demonstrable series of actions is how I elicit the "I can do this" response. That’s why apprenticeships, hands-on workshops or simply "trial by fire" are so vitally important for an entrepreneur’s success.
I teach people to start their own Internet businesses by having them sit at a computer and taking them through each and every step required to reserve a domain name, sign up for a hosting account, create a website, upload it, modify it, etc. At the end of the three-hour workshop, they can say without a doubt, "I can do this!"
Brainstorming for ideas, doing research, completing forms and paperwork, registering the business, making sales calls, purchasing inventory, filling orders, greeting customers—these are all elements of launching and running a business that can and should be demonstrated, and acted out by the participants if they are to be successful at it.
Once a person really believes they can do a thing, it’s more likely to get done.
These are the little tricks of the trade that any teacher, trainer, preacher or politician can use to move the masses to action. And it works because, regardless of the historical or cultural context within which you operate, all you’re really ever doing is raising another person’s belief level about who they are ("me too"), what is doable ("this makes sense"), and their ability to do it ("I can do this").
Note: For more tips on overcoming your fears, acting on your ideas, changing the game, and creating a passion-centered lifestyle, visit www.passionprofit.com!
Note: There’s a new blog in town! Check out www.blacksonsaipan.com
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!
Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of over two dozen books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several businesses in the US, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com)