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So second year into the journey now... I still clearly remember my business mentor shared some statistics with me that 50% of startup fail in first year and an even greater % fail in the second year. And I also remember telling him I want to be that small percentage that survive (about 2%, from memory) and continue to grow. Up until now, I am still sticking very closely to the 2% and "giving up" is never in my dictionary as I often tell people especially other startup friends.
Lately, many startup friends and friends who are thinking of starting up a business got in touch with me to exchange experiences and also to seek validation that what they are experiencing is normal.
So, I've decided to share a little bit about my early journey here. My intention of writing this article isn't about painting a blue sky picture with double rainbows. NO! I have to be utterly honest, it is freaking hard! I want to share this so you know one of the crucial ingredients to making it happen for your startup is your mindset (whether you're in planning stage or already in a startup journey). This is not a "How to' article to teach you about startup. I'm sure there are plenty of books and business programs where you can buy and signup to learn about business operation and systems. My hope is that you can relate to my story and gain values from here - my mindset.
Before founding Life's like Jazz, I was working as a senior Project Manager in a well-established MNC. I have a pretty good remuneration package. Life was good. I have all bills taken care of, savings, investments and extras to donate to make the world a better place. This makes it pretty meaningful.
Then I got thinking, can I do more than my role and can I do more beyond the company I work for? Of course the answer is yes and yes. So off I go... I plan, I plan and I plan still working hard at my very demanding job giving more than 100%. I kept telling myself I will wait for the right time to hand in my resignation but there's never the "right time", is there? I just have to do it! Leaving a job that I've enjoyed doing and great at for years. But the "reward' at the other end is so much better! I get to setup my own startup and make such a huge difference in others lives! How exciting that would be!
I got into the BIRTH stage of my business. Feeling all excited and so much to look forward to, I got my business name, registered my business, got my business card done and all other elements sorted. I have such a beautiful image in my mind! Because it is going to be so great, I'm doing something amazing and making a difference! Now I'm ready to rock!
Boom! Reality hit! I know about coaching, I am able to coach BUT I do not know how to run a business. I do not know how to do sales or market myself/my business! I shivered when I had to do my elevator pitch at networking event. I forced myself to network so much. Sometimes I have 6 networking events to go to in a week and sometimes 2 a day in a roll! Coming from a delivery background, this is extremely uncomfortable! And I have been advised that I have to have a social media presence, website, etc. I was learning like a robot! I was a very busy woman, doing everything, busy being BUSY! Did I manage to have new clients? No! I only had 2 clients. Months go by, money in the bank is reducing because there are business expenses to pay although I kept it at minimum. I was feeling the heat and then family challenges came into picture which of course makes the situation worst. I was feeling the pressure from all angle, I spent many teary nights and days. This is when I started asking myself "Is this for me? Wouldn't it be easier to just stop here and go back to doing what I do best and just settle with the peace of mind that money will come into the bank every month? That will take away all these uncomfortable feeling, stress and tears!"
I looked at my Vision Board, reminded myself of my WHY and I told myself this is just a test - a test from the Universe to see how much do I really want this! I didn't give up. I continued to bring myself to networking events. I keep showing up, put on my contagious smile, creating connections with people I met and keep showing up in all that I do not just networking. That didn't give me clients either. But what I focused on was building my confidence, getting more comfortable with sales & marketing. I chose to look at networking, sales & marketing from a different perspective now. Networking is about me getting out there to give others an opportunity to know me and an opportunity for me to serve and give values. In terms of sales & marketing, I chose to associate it with offering solutions to serve and help others. I started to focus on others, listening from my heart, giving values, realising it is not about getting business or clients, it is about serving from my heart! I buried my ego and replaced it with Creativity, Courage, Passion, Excellence, Resilience, Certainty and Love (those who knows me, I am the woman who's big with my 4 letter word - L-O-V-E). I never stop learning! Every single roadblock is just feedback to help me do better and to keep raising my standard to serve. I DO NOT make excuses when things don't go the way I wanted it to, instead I focus on making results - helping my clients create the result they want and give them what they need as well, and help them create the ripple effect in their lives!
So I passed the first year test from the Universe! Hooray! Things started to change after I made the first year milestone. I love this quote "Good things come to those who work their butts off and NEVER GIVE UP". I was building momentum steadily and being grateful to be able to serve the clients I have now and the clients I have yet to meet...
So this is part one of my startup journey. The essential element in making through the first year and passing the "test" is your Mindset; especially when you're on this journey alone (It can be very lonely and you can get lost easily in your own discouraging stories that often pops up when you start to face challenges from all angle). Your Mindset is your foundation, it creates the environment for yourself to keep going, keep your focus on WHY you want to do this and keep making progress, taking in all feedback and do better than yourself each time. It doesn't matter what business you're in, it is about having that Mindset that will take you through all tests.
Stay tune for Part 2... I hope you have found this useful. Feel free to reach out or leave me a comment.