Banish Your Barriers
An unexamined mindset is not a good place from which to run your business. All those unruly doubts and “I can’ts” can sink you.
Mindset. The dictionary defines it as a mental attitude. An inclination. I’ve even seen it defined as an intention — like the yoga practice of focusing your thoughts, will, and energy on what you want to see manifest in your life. In church terms, it’s like a determined prayer that won’t let go until it gets an answer.
However you define it, mindset is key to success. So, how do successful entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners maintain the right mindset for what they do?
Begin with knowing your why — your values and your end goal for owning your business. Your why is what’s going to get you out of bed when you’re feeling tired, and handling the work when a project goes haywire. It will move you through the valley of low income and sustain you on the peak of too much work, too little time.
Your why will be unique to you. That’s good, because your personal drive and goals make you and your business stand out from the crowd. Embrace it, because it’s going to help you.
And honestly, the reasons people launch into working for themselves are many, but the result is the same — feeling like you’re doing what you were meant to do is a wonderful place to inhabit.
My own why is simple, yet motivating — freedom. I work for myself because I love helping others, and I want to do that while being able to work when I want, from anywhere. This freedom gives me a fuller life than I have when I’m working for an employer 9 to 5.
Andrea Neil, a Tulsa area yoga instructor and co-founder of Three Point Author Services, explains her drive to work for herself this way: “I want to find a way to do what I truly love, while making a good living — on my own terms. I couldn’t see how to do that within a corporate structure.”
Both Andrea and I are among the group of people who have spent years working for traditional employers before leaping into our own businesses. Other people start their entrepreneurship early in life.
Lollie Moore of Girl About Tulsa says, “I work for myself as an influencer and content creator. I’ve been self-employed since college and began working with a local startup a month ago. I feel like I live in the best of both worlds. I work out of 36 Degrees North with the brand and have a home office as basecamp for my adventures.”
Kersten Anderson of Speakeasy Market Strategies and The Marketing Dame says, “I started working in my field and found it difficult to find opportunities specifically in the area I wanted to specialize in,” she says. “So I took a job, and it was the poor treatment I got there that pushed me over the edge to quit.”
Anderson was 25 at the time. She says that as she searched for a corporate job, a mentor suggested she start her own business, which she did. It’s still going strong six years later. “I’ve always known I would be an entrepreneur [since I was raised by them], but didn’t realize I would start at such a young age,” she says. Running her own business, she says, allows her to think out of the box and mentor others to do so as well.
Get rid of “I can’t”
What all these stories share is the idea that running a business for yourself is possible — if you want it to be. And that means jettisoning the words “I can’t” from your mindset.
It helps to be in the right frame of mind for pursuing your own business, because it’s going to take plenty of hard work, discipline, late nights, sacrifices, setbacks, and resets to keep moving forward into the success you want. You must believe you can do it. Or you’ll never do it.
Examine your mindset
The Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” In terms of working for yourself, let’s adapt that saying. An unexamined mindset is not a good place from which to run your business. All those unruly doubts and “I can’ts” can sink you. So, you can’t allow them rent-free time in your head.
Your task this month:
Start examining how you think about yourself and your business. Identify areas where you tend to think small or put limits on yourself: “I don’t know enough about marketing. I hate selling myself. I’m no good at networking.” Rewrite these ideas into positive goals you can achieve: “I can learn about marketing or hire an expert. My business helps people, so it’s important to tell others about it. With practice, I’ll become better at making connections.”
Spend a little time each day meditating on how you want to see yourself and your business. And notice how your mindset affects your productivity. Soon, you’ll be much faster at seeing when you’ve rolled back into limiting thinking, and more equipped to switch to that growth mindset that’s so useful for tackling the challenges of running a business.
I’d love to hear your suggestions for what I should investigate over the next several months in terms of entrepreneurship in Tulsa. Feel free to message your ideas to Preview 918 on Facebook (which I can see anytime), or email me, or share ideas on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #lovethe918 or #tulsasmallbusiness.
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