Having an idea for a startup and growing it are two very different things. With multiple challenges, from financing to altering external circumstances presenting as hurdles on a daily basis, it can be tough to survive in today’s competitive world. Here are ways to reshape your mentality to break through the barriers and build a business that thrives in the new year:
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Let’s start with this short snippet from Alice in Wonderland:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Like Alice, many of us know we want to do something different but lack clarity on what that looks like. We will stumble upon it eventually, but the journey can be long, frustrating and fraught with the dangers of taking wrong turns. So, if you feel the stirrings within you to do something different, start with defining what that means to you.
Get ahead of the game
When things are looking difficult, we rise out of our complacency and scramble around to improve the situation. It’s important to recognize early warning signs and use all your skills (IQ, EQ, SQ) to anticipate what next before the downslide begins. Being in the right place allows us to navigate critical discussions objectively and weigh the pros and cons without the edge that desperation and urgency bring with it.
“I cannot change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to get to my destination”
– Jimmy Dean
All too often we believe what made us successful in the past will continue to contribute to our success. However, business plans, economics, colleagues and even power equations go through changes. Keep your ears to the ground to anticipate these changes and make adjustments to your plans, goals, and relationships.
Know your stuff
You may know your business inside out, but this doesn’t apply to your industry. In almost every industry changes are taking place at a rapid pace: IT, automotive, retail–the list is endless. It’s important to keep abreast of these changes through reading, research and even investing in upskilling if required.
Be your brand ambassador
New York Times published a brilliant article titled “Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were.” The article suggests that “many women, accomplished as they are, don’t feel the same sense of innate confidence as their male peers.”
A real example is given of a meeting where the presenter asked a group of men and women whether anyone had expertise in breastfeeding. A man raised his hand. He had watched his wife for three months. The women in the crowd, mothers among them, didn’t come forward as experts.
Women are very good at getting things done and hoping that they will be rewarded. Alas, that is not always the case. Being your backer and believing in showcasing our skills, knowledge, and achievements is an integral part of building your and your business’s brand.
Step outside your comfort zone
The familiar is comfortable and helps maintain the status quo in our lives. However, fortune favors the brave, and a comfort zone can breed complacency. Put yourself and your business out there by networking, joining relevant organizations, knowledge-sharing with other regions, participating and organizing company-wide events, and seeking opportunities to represent your business organization at external events.
All of the above mentioned are potentially time-consuming and can also be a daunting task to take on, but where is that resistance is coming from? At the core of this belief lies fear of failure, commonly known as the impostor syndrome (i.e., impostor syndrome is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud). It might be comforting to know the J.K Rowling, and Maya Angelou both suffer from this.
Asking powerful and challenging questions also helps clear the cobwebs:
- What’s the best or the worst that could happen if I did this?
- How do I know I can’t do it?
- Who can help me with this?
- Who has done this? What enabled them to be successful at it and which of those qualities do I possess?
Network upwards, downwards and sideways
It’s time to rethink your preconceived notions of people who can help you boost your business. Most often, the list comprises of people senior or who’ve had more experience in your sector or as an entrepreneur. But there are other ways; for instance, we all know of powerful executive assistants. Add to the list publications you admire and journalists who work there, events you’d like to speak at, and millennials who may know a thing or two more about your target customer than you do.
Get a mentor and be smart about it
While it is not the role of the mentor to create opportunities for you, it certainly helps if they are well connected, know market practices and trends, are quick to spot opportunities and point you in the right direction. Also, the primary motivation for becoming a mentor is vital to know. Approach someone who can also benefit from your lessons in business, as well as imparting some knowledge on your chosen path. This person could be a friend, relative, ex-boss or retired entrepreneur, but having an educated ear to listen in tough times is always a good investment.
An attitude of gratitude, happiness, and positivity
This is the most underestimated and under-utilized trick. It’s a long-term investment and sometimes difficult to measure. But distilling this idea a little more, it will be clear that people are more likely to think of you and how they can be of assistance if you have been a positive force in their lives and bring the right energy to meetings, projects, and discussions.
About the Author
Hopscotch.work is free to use women’s careers platform focused on matching professional women with forward-thinking organizations through its Job Board, Events and initiatives. With a community of 75,000+ women, the platform expanded to Asia in 2018 and is currently offering returnship roles for women at MNCs in Hong Kong and Singapore through its Career Comeback program. Sign up and find all the details here.