I’ve started a lot of different exercise programs in my life. Some I started because I wanted to lose weight, some because I enjoyed a particular sport, and others because I just wanted to get into shape.
I have been variously successful. When I joined a team and had to show up regularly for practice and games, I was able to more easily keep the exercise going – at least until the season ended. Other times I quit after less than two weeks. You know how it goes. You decide to start the routine and the first two or three days are okay. Then you start to get a little sore, but you make yourself keep going because you know you need it.
But at about the two week mark something shifts. The determination is not quite as strong. Then one day it rains or you need to attend some function that interferes with your exercise time. Missing one day doesn’t seem like a problem, but one day turns into two, into three and the next thing you know you are not working out any more.
On the other end of the spectrum, I am working on a routine, now, that I have maintained consistently for over eight years. Of course whenever I have started a new exercise regimen, my desire has always been to maintain it, otherwise I would not have even begun.
So what made the difference this time? That’s a great question, because what is true for an exercise program is also true for business! It is a well known fact that a very low percentage of small businesses actually succeed more than just a few years. So what is the thing that allows us to maintain consistency over the long term?
In the end there is no shortcut to making a new business successful. The necessary ingredients are: 1) a great idea, 2) competent workers, 3) a workable business model, and 4) perseverance. The first three components are the easiest to deal with – not necessarily easy, but easier than the last. With the first three, all that is necessary is creative strategic planning, a little business education and some good management skills.
But this last ingredient falls into a different category. Here you have to learn how to manage your emotions so that the inevitable ups and downs of the start-up cycle don’t destroy your dream. It takes a huge amount of hard work to get a new business up and successful. If you don’t have the inner strength to persevere through the struggle, you will end up on the scrap heap of failed small businesses.
The Five Step Formula for Keeping On
Successful perseverance begins and ends with a good personal development plan. It is the process of strengthening your personal inner core to the point you are able to stand strong in the face of adversity. Knowing the formula is a great place to start, but even with the knowledge many people fail. Success does not happen because of what you do or what you know. It happens because of the person you become.
These five steps can be applied at different levels. Most people think of them in terms of completing a task – and that is okay when there is a task that needs to be accomplished. But for creating success, we need a broader understanding. We need a formula which creates a life that is successful. The various smaller tasks that we do in life emerge from that. This five step formula is the explanation of a process that, if implemented, will help you become the kind of person who can persevere to success.
Step 1 – Know Your Purpose
Purpose is essentially the reason you do something. It has been said that if we have a big enough reason we can accomplish almost anything. On the flip side, without a reason we will not have the motivation to make it through even the smallest tasks.
Actually you do have a purpose in everything you do. If you start a business there was a purpose that moved you to do it. If you quit a business there was a purpose to that. The only problem is, most people have not identified what those purposes are, and when the purpose is unidentified the activities that emerge out of it are unintentional. If the purpose is not intentional it is based on an emotional response – and when the emotions change, the purpose changes without you even realizing it.
Purpose, to be effective, must be intentional and it must come out of the very core of your being. It is not good enough to start a new business just because it makes you feel good to be a business owner. You have to want it to fulfill something deeper – some underlying ambition that propels you to the next level in your own personal development.
Step 2 – Set Process Goals
Almost every business owner has studied goal setting to some extent. It is such an important aspect of business that most people read about it and even attend seminars to learn how to do it more effectively. Most goals, as with most purposes, have to do with accomplishing a task. But there is a level of goal setting that goes beyond simple outcomes.
Process goals relate to personal growth activities, and they don’t have an end. Think of the process of losing weight or getting physically into shape. When can you quit the diet or stop the exercise program? Do you do it when you attain a fixed goal? When you drop your twenty pounds can you then go back to the way you ate before? When you get to where you can jog for thirty minutes straight do you quit the program? If you do, you will quickly get back into the same condition you were in before. So of course you don’t just quit. If you want to accomplish the real goals you have to continue these programs indefinitely. They have to become part of your lifestyle. The process has to continue.
When it comes to our business, it is not enough to simply set it up and let it run itself. The development of the business emerges from our own personal development. We have to identify all of the factors that make us better and more effective individuals, then make the development of those things an ongoing part of our lives. There are too many factors to list them all, but they will include such things as: 1) learning to control our emotions (we don’t want to be tempted to quit the first time we get discouraged), 2) maintaining our physical stamina (it is physically demanding to run a business), 3) staying mentally sharp (new innovations are always happening and someone else will jump ahead of us if we don’t keep up), and 4) keep our relationships in order (including the relationships with self, family, customers, distributors, etc.).
Step 3 – Develop Long Term Plans
The third step relates to strategic thinking. It is not enough to know how to do the various tasks related to your business. There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people out there who can do that – many better than you. We can’t see our business in terms of simple repetitive tasks. Once we have our goals firmly before us, we have to look way down the road and decide specifically where we want to end up.
If you go for a hike, you can walk ten miles in a circle or you can end up in the town on the other side of the mountain. In your business you can just make enough money to pay the mortgage or you can build an empire. Barely getting by might just happen if you have a great deal of luck. Building an empire (even a small one) requires knowing where you want to go and developing a grand plan to get there.
Step 4 – Build Up Your Personal Development Tools
The effort we put forth to make ourselves successful begins in our mind. It relates to the purpose, goals and strategic planning that we do to become the kind of person who operates on a higher level. But once we know where we want to go, and how to get there, we have to begin implementing the process. This brings us to the personal development tools.
The tools are skills that we must develop in order to become a better person. There are too many to list them all individually, but we can identify them in broad terms in order to get a grasp of the concept. The skills fall into four categories.
- The first category is emotional skills. These are skills that help us have control over our emotions.
- Category two is physical skills. This set of skills relates to things that improve our health.
- The third set of skills are mental skills. These relate to our ability to acquire, store and use knowledge.
- The final category is the spiritual and relates to relationships skills.
By developing a life process that continuously develops these skills, we automatically generate a life that has the ability to be successful. We don’t simply generate a successful outcome, we become a successful person.
Step 5 – Turn on the Energy
The final step in the process is to put the pedal to the metal. Once everything is in place, the only thing left is to carry it out. If all of the other steps really are in place, this shouldn’t be a problem. You have a reason, an outcome a plan and all the tools in place. At that point, it is just a matter of flipping the switch.
The impetus to keep going when the going gets tough is not simply a matter of will power. It is also not simply an issue of having a better plan. It is a matter of being a better person. Who are the people who quit? Quitters quit! If you have developed into the kind of person who is not a quitter, quitting will not be an option. This does not mean that you will never terminate a project. But the termination will be based on objective reasons, not on an emotional response.
When you arrive at a place in your business life where things seem hard, how do you know that you have become a person who can keep forging ahead in the face of difficulty? You will know you are there when you face the desire to quit, but start looking for options to succeed. At that point you will be able to keep on, no matter what!
Dr. Freddy Davis is the owner of TSM Enterprises and conducts conferences, seminars and organizational training for executives, managers and sales professionals. He is the author of the book Supercharged! as well as the Nutshell Series of books for strengthening business. Sign up, free, for Freddy’s twice-monthly e-letter, Nutshell Notes, at http://www.tsmenterprises.com. You can contact Freddy directly at 888-883-0656 or by e-mail at