That "something" is a crucial element of entrepreneurial success: maintaining a positive state of mind. And protecting that positive state of mind from influences that make you uncertain and less confident.
You see I live and run my business in the battleground swing state of Ohio. With the election going on, the drumbeat of negative doom-and-gloom has reached unbearable proportions.
Let me give you one example: we are bombarded with political ads on TV night and day. I am not exaggerating with the word "bombarded." Anyone from Ohio or another battleground swing state knows what I mean.
Most of the ads emphasize the economy. They talk about how bad things are. We hear an Obama ad, then a McCain ad, then an ad by a group supporting Obama, then one supporting McCain's platform, and so on -- all back to back. Nearly every single commercial break.
It's gotten so that in our house, someone will just reach over and flip channels or turn off the TV for 2 minutes. Same goes for listening to the radio in the car. This is unspoken -- we never discussed this. We all started doing it because we'd reached the breaking point.
I started to find that it spilled over into my business. All the bad news was coloring my own ability to plan and make decisions. Unchanneled worry about the credit crisis and whether customers will stop spending, or about this market or that market crashing and burning, can put you in an endless loop of uncertainty.
You know you should be planning a new marketing campaign, or investing to beef up your infrastructure for more throughput (in my case more content), or your sales could slow. You know you should be thinking of creative ways to grow additional revenue streams to de-risk your reliance on a single revenue stream. But the swirl of negativity around you makes you hesitate. It makes you want to curl up in a little ball, figuratively speaking, and stay safe from all the bad things happening in the world.
It's a huge dilemma for business owners and entrepreneurs. On the one hand, we MUST stay aware of what is happening in the economy and how that will affect our businesses. No business is an island.
On the other hand, too much negativity without solutions just brings a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we hear how bad things are, we start assuming that it HAS to be bad for our businesses -- that a disaster is around the next corner. Even if that isn't necessarily the case.
We can talk ourselves into failure.
I am not suggesting that we all stick our heads in the sand. That's not how you run a business. But we can only take so much doom and gloom before it affects us. That's why it's important to manage our own state of mind.
How do I do that? Two small but powerful tricks help me keep a positive motivated mindset in the midst of unprecedented bad financial news:
- Limit your exposure to reports of bad news. Listen to news reports that give detailed facts that you can assimilate and use to make decisions. Or focus on how-to information. An article that offers tips for running your business during a recession is more useful than some panel of commentators screaming over each other about what a mess the economy is in, but never offering solutions. In other words, get news you can use. And then use it.
- Watch what you say to yourself. Your internal voice is powerful. Your thoughts can tell you how to feel -- yep they do. Change your thoughts and you go a long way toward a positive mental outlook. Catch yourself when you are thinking negative thoughts. Consciously replace aimless negative thoughts with an "action thought." Not this: "The economy is in the dumpster and everything is crashing and burning down around us. Oh no!" Replace that thought with "Customers may be slowing down their purchases given the slow economy. Would a 2-for-one special get them to buy? And should we be personally calling instead of writing customers who are more than 45 days past due? Better talk to Joe about that tomorrow."
Focus on what you can control. One thing you definitely have some control over is your own state of mind -- keep it positive.