It seems as if I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Each time I think I am on the right track to success I take several steps backwards. I've had several businesses that have failed, though I keep trying.
What am I doing wrong? Why does it seem so easy for some people to make it while others who really want and will do anything to be financially stable are the ones who fail miserably? All I want is to own my own business, be independent and make my mother proud. — Lorella
You are putting so much pressure on yourself: pressure to succeed, pressure not to make mistakes, pressure not to give up, pressure to be financially stable, pressure to be independent and pressure to make your mother proud. It’s not surprising that you’re finding it tough. The weight of all of those expectations is emotionally crushing you.
You need to stop focusing on how you can make your business a success and focus instead on how your business can make a difference to others. Look for an unmet need or a service you can provide better.
The best businesses are started by passionate people who want to create and build something that makes the world better because the business exists. That impact can be limited to your local community — or you can try to change the world.
Successful business owners articulate this change and set that as their goal. Google wants to organize all the world’s information and make it useful. Coca-Cola wants to refresh the world. If you want to open a paper store, your mission might be to help people express their feelings more personally. If you want to open a cupcake shop, your goal might be creating smiles or spreading happiness.
Successful business owners say their satisfaction comes from working every day to reach those goals. Most importantly, successful people understand that none of us is guaranteed a final outcome, so taking the journey — making it as meaningful and compelling and joyful as possible — is the ultimate reward.
Build a business that means something to you — something you believe will resonate with others. Focus on the change you want your business to make in the world, not the change you want it to make in your life. Then approach each day as a day to make progress knowing that not every day will turn out that way. There will always be setbacks. (Perfection is, after all, unattainable.) The important thing is that you have more days when you move your business forward than backwards. (And reports of success without great effort are highly exaggerated!)
Do whatever you can to step out from under the crushing weight of all the pressure you feel. And rebuild your self-confidence by celebrating little victories. Set small, short-term and achievable goals for yourself. And when you reach them, acknowledge and celebrate them. Then, celebrate when you can bundle a few small victories together.
Get to the point where you can look behind you at the road you have traveled and see the successes and the progress. Then build on those with each passing day. Finally, focus on the journey. And make it a happy and fulfilling one. That will ultimately make you successful — and you and your mother — proud.
Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at thelookinglass.com.