I have been working in both corporate America and as an entrepreneur for over 25 years. In that time, I have learned a few hard truths. The most important one I learned is that most people will never achieve their goals or dreams because they simply aren't willing to leave their own comfort zones. No matter how great the prize is on the other side, most people are too lazy, too comfortable, or too afraid to go after it. Even worse, if their own comfort zone was on fire or causing them tremendous pain, they would rather deal with it than leave what is familiar to them.
How can you escape the gravitational pull of your own comfort zone? Here are three questions you must address in order to break free.
What’s your single biggest pain point? If you are a current business owner or someone who is just starting out in business, have you identified your greatest pain point? Are you under-capitalized? Is it a sales-related pain? Or do you simply not have a business plan and you have no idea what’s coming around the corner? Business owners in this situation deal with pain in one of two ways: Most will stick their heads in the sand and pray for the pain to go away; others will attack the pain because they realize it’s an obstacle standing between them and their dreams.
How do you deal with your pain point? If you admit to being one of the people who sticks their head in the sand, I give you credit for taking the first step in addressing your biggest problem. The fear and uncertainty associated with pain points keep most people from dealing with them directly. To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes—when you run away from your problems, molehills become mountains; when you run toward them, mountains become molehills.
The second step is determining the size of your obstacle and what it will take for you to overcome it. It is likely that you will need help for step two. Find a small-business advisor or a mentor who has been in your place before to help you navigate the uncharted waters ahead. They can see what you don’t see. I don’t recommend taking on the problem alone. If the problem is getting your financial papers in order, spend money on hiring a good bookkeeper or accountant. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to learn social media, see if your local SCORE chapter or Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offer workshops on the topic. In most cases, your biggest obstacle isn't unprecedented. There are millions of business owners who have successfully overcome their own fears and uncertainties to create healthy, entrepreneurial companies.
What comes after the pain? Once you have successfully dealt with your biggest fear and you realize it didn't kill you, life and business will suddenly look completely different. Your thinking will become proactive and you will see opportunities instead of obstacles. You will feel tremendous energy, a result of your dreams pulling you closer to them. When this happens, you must have a plan in place that will guide you toward your goals. It should include the hurdles you will leap and the roads you will take. How will you hit your revenue numbers? How much will come from new business versus existing business? When you see it all on paper, without the pain blurring your vision, you will feel the power of 100 salespeople all working on commission!
Watching someone successfully remove the pain from their business life for the first time is magical. It’s at that moment when they realize they have the energy to leave their comfort zone because it’s the only way they will achieve their goals.
You know what you need to do in order to be successful. Figure out the cause of your greatest pain and remove it from your business. 2014 is a new year filled with opportunities. Put your business and yourself in positions where you both can excel.
As the founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Brian helps entrepreneurs run better businesses. He was formerly the executive director at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing the financial and small-business markets across the WSJ franchise. From 2002 to 2010, Brian ran Veracle Media and Moran Media Group, content companies in the SMB market.