That’s my fourth year of self-employment chalked up. I have had ups and downs but I am more confident today about the future than I have ever been. The potential is massive and fortune favours the brave.
As always, I ask myself what I have learned. I never did this in corporate life. But I’m not in corporate life any more. I’m in life. And this stuff matters.
So, what have I learned?
1. The Playing Field Has Never Been More Level
The internet, coupled with cheap, powerful online services have levelled the playing field for a lot of small business owners in terms of product delivery and marketing.
You can get a simple website up in a matter of hours. You can automate a sales cycle in an hour. You can print on demand a single copy of a 250 page book and ship it anywhere on earth for less than ten US dollars. You can use simple and cheap tools to attract potential customers.
All of this capability was until very recently either impossible or very expensive. This tilted the game in favour of large, established corporations. No longer. You can kill giants.
2. Interruption Marketing is Dead or Dying
All unrequested marketing – TV ads, junk mail, flyers, telesales etc is either dead or dying. It is expensive and ineffective. This is also known as push or outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is the future. I give my stuff away for nothing and those who are interested follow me. I use permission-based marketing to offer my prospects products and services. I sell to those who are interested, not the mass. And it doesn’t feel like selling.
3. I NEED a Mentor and a Coach.
A mentor = someone who has done what I plan to do.
My mentor builds my confidence and shortens my journey. Re-inventing the wheel is just stupid.
A coach – someone who helps me to reach my potential.
It’s difficult to keep on keeping on by yourself. Most MegaCorp directors have a coach. ALL sports people have a coach.
They are worth their weight in gold.
4. Invest in Education.
I have spent thousands of pounds on my own education in the last three years. I am learning now at a faster rate than at any time in my life.
Everything I need to get everything I want is already known. I go and get it. I learn it.
The payback on this investment is astronomical.
5. Rituals Are Powerful
My morning ritual, or practice, is incredibly powerful. It focuses me, calms me and fills me with confidence. It is not a habit. Habits are mindless and robotic. But a ritual or a practice is conscious and can be continuously improved.
6. Worship GOYA
Not the Spanish Romantic painter, but Get Off Your Arse.
I take massive action. I have a bias towards action. I take the first step; even if I cannot see the other steps, I only need to see the first one. I take it. I trust that things will work out. Action is almost always better than inaction.
With action I get a result which I can analyse and make a change to my next action. And so it goes on.
With sitting on my arse I just get a bigger arse.
7. Blocktime is Essential
I cannot build Rome in sixty minute chunks between meetings. When I am creating something significant or making a change in my business (like moving from a my-time-your-money model to a getting-paid-without-turning-up model) I recognise this as a strategic issue and give it blocks of time. I’m talking days or even weeks dedicated to a task.
8. I Really, Actually, Truly, Have Nothing To Lose
As I wrote recently, Steve Jobs said, before he knew of his cancer, that we are all going to die so what is it you are afraid of losing?
I am going to lose it all anyway. I might as well just jump in.
9. Like a Horror Movie: My Fear of X Delivers X in Abundance
My fear of failure delivers failure to me.
My fear of rejection delivers rejection to me.
My fear of pain delivers pain to me.
I try to be fearless. It is not always easy. But I remember that this type of “in the head” fear is an artefact of my lizard brain – the old and first part of my brain that is constantly on the lookout for something to be frightened of. And if my lizard brain cannot find a hungry lion to be frightened of it will focus instead on that difficult phone call I have to make and treat that as the hungry lion. Crazy but true. My lizard brain just wants to keep me safe. But, like an over-protective mother, she can smother me. I stay aware of this.
10. I Am My Psychology
The tools and techniques of management and leadership are necessary for success. They are freely or inexpensively available to me.
They are necessary but insufficient. They are only half the game.
The other half is my psychology. My mindset of success. This is not taught in schools or universities. It is poorly taught if at all in corporations. It is well understood by some elite sports people.
Every single day I see and hear people who inadvertently reveal an aspect of their psychology that is severely limiting them.
And they are oblivious to their limitation. Presumably because it isn’t tangible. What a waste.
I don’t even have to master my psychology, although I am trying to. Simple awareness of the elements of my psychology and how they can either help or hinder me is half the battle. I then make sure that any unhelpful stuff is snuffed out pretty quickly. That does the rest of the job.
Tools, techniques AND positive psychology – the only winning combination I need and the only winning combination there has ever been.
I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for reading my weekly Pearls. I hope I have been of some small service to you. Onwards and upwards. Your time is right now. I shall return on Monday 9th January.
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Thanks a lot. Mark