Ever since I decided to become an entrepreneur, I’ve studied marketing, business building, and business strategy. I’ve read books, magazines and ezines. I’ve attended teleseminars, participated in internet forums and spoken to other entrepreneurs. After all this studying, I began to suspect something.
Then I started researching my book The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur. I did more reading, searched more websites, attended more courses and talked to a lot more people. My suspicion started to be confirmed; to become a conclusion.
Building a successful business is not some great mystery. It’s not about coming up with a revolutionary new product – building a better mousetrap if you will. It’s not about being smarter or better or luckier. It’s not about learning some secret marketing strategy that only the top people know about.
Being a successful entrepreneur is fairly simple. It’s about understanding some business basics, having the right attitude and consistently doing the work necessary to succeed.
The Keys to Being a Successful Baby Boomer Entrepreneur
Some keys to successful entrepreneurship are:
- Having a product or service that’s good – not necessarily the best, but good enough to provide value and satisfaction to the customer.
- Having a plan – a business and marketing plan – and working towards this plan every day – even when the going gets tough, even when you’re scared out of your pants.
- Having a larger vision, a vision of how your business and your life can be better – more rewarding, more interesting, more exciting.
- Having a belief in yourself and your goals. No matter what roadblocks or setbacks turn up, you keep going forward because there’s no turning back. Even when you have doubts – and everyone does – you keep believing in yourself and your goals because these is no other option.
- Knowing when to ask for help. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met all have colleagues, coaches, mentors, or boards of advisors helping them along the way. They also know when to hire outside help: accountants, webmasters, graphic designers, VAs.
- Knowing what makes your business different and who your ideal clients are. It’s also being brave enough to turn away from less than perfect customers.
- Investing in your business by getting training, hiring contractors, paying for marketing, buying equipment. It’s also about not spending money foolishly.
How Not to Succeed
Less than successful entrepreneurs have some things in common too.
- They have difficulty telling others what they do. This is particularly true for people providing a service. I suspect that they doubt the value they have to offer – they don’t quite believe they’re worth what they’re asking, so they waffle.
- They do little marketing, if any. What marketing they do is sporadic and inconsistent. They give up too soon. They send a dozen marketing letters or run a couple of ads in the paper. When the business doesn’t flood in, they give up. They don’t understand that marketing is like brushing your teeth. You don’t do it once and forget it. It’s a long term strategy.
- Less than successful entrepreneurs don’t have a bigger vision. They can’t see beyond paying next month’s mortgage – and they don’t quite believe they can do that. They certainly can’t envision a time when they are financially comfortable; a time when their business is thriving.
- Less than successful entrepreneurs can’t describe their ideal client. If you ask them, they are vague or just don’t know how to answer. They try to serve everyone rather than trying to find the clients they could best serve.
- Probably the biggest mistake unsuccessful entrepreneurs make is trying to do it entirely on their own. They feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure. Or it never occurs to them that they can ask for help.
Is the Baby Boomer Entrepreneur A Success?
So where do I fit in this picture? I’m floating in limbo between the two groups. I know what the key is to success. I know what needs to be done. I know I’m good at what I do. And I have absolute confidence that if I follow my plan, I will be successful.
So why am I not wildly successful yet? My entrepreneurial path has been one of “two steps forward, one step back.”
Every time I’m about to make a major leap forward towards achieving my goals, I do something to set myself back. I forget to follow up with a hot prospect. I waste time on busy work rather than productive tasks. I find excuses not to get down to work – as a mother there are always other things I “should” be doing. If all else fails, I get really sick.
Currently I’ve got plans for the next quarter. They are fairly ambitious but doable. Among other things, I plan to host a series of teleseminars on business building with guest experts, post a minimum of three blog posts a week and finish the first draft of my book. My income goals are ambitious but reasonable. All I need to do is take actions each day towards my goals.
So what’s happening? I spent most of yesterday laying on the couch re-reading a murder mystery. I didn’t do any marketing, didn’t write to my blog, didn’t follow up with some interviews for my book, didn’t add some pages to my blog that could help generate revenue. I was just a couch potato.
Tonight I was sitting on the couch, again, watching Grey’s Anatomy and started thinking that this is unacceptable. I need to make a change. I have big dreams, big plans, and I don’t want to waste any more time. I’m middle aged and don’t have any more time to *#@& around. That’s when I decided to write this post.
How I’ll Turn This Around
I can’t let another quarter go by without reaching my goals – or at least making a good attempt. So what will I do differently? Take my own advice.
I wrote that the biggest mistake less than successful entrepreneurs make is not asking for help. As an elder sibling and co-dependent, I hate asking for help. Giving help I can do; asking for it is painful.
Even when I do ask for help, I don’t ask very effectively. I paid money for a coaching program and was asked to write out barriers to my success and who I could ask for help. I couldn’t think of who to ask, and what help I could ask for.
No more. Tomorrow I’m going to call a therapist I’ve seen in the past and make an appointment to get help past this current slump. I’m going to reread a couple of inspirational business books instead of another mystery.
I’m going to pick one of the scary tasks I’ve been avoiding and do it first thing tomorrow. Then I’m going to put my butt in my chair and work for three solid hours before I take a break.
At the end of the day I’m going to pick up a bottle of wine, go to my friend Wendy’s and celebrate the fact that I’m not giving up. Celebrating achievements is another thing successful entrepreneurs do.
And Monday, I’m going to start it all over again.
Andrea J. Stenberg
If you’re interested in getting started with the financial markets you might want to check out spread trading