You already know that building a business is tough.
There’s much to learn, much to do, and rarely does there seem to be enough time to get it all done.
But when it comes to making the business of your dreams your reality, there are really only two things you need.
Let’s begin with exploring the first, and most important one:
The essential ingredient for business success
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, lead character Andy Dufresne is serving a life sentence in prison. A jury found him guilty of killing his wife and her lover.
Andy maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. He finally obtained his freedom nineteen years later, after crawling through a sewer line five hundred yards long. That’s five football fields worth of poo. Yuck!
But to Andy, it was totally worth it. It was worth it to crawl through that muck.
That stinky, disgusting, bacteria infested trek through that sewer line was the only thing standing between him and living life as a free man.
So rather than live the rest of his life as a prisoner, he crawled through the poo to claim a better life.
Now here’s the million dollar question: Would you crawl through 500 yards of poo to get to your dream business?
I’m not saying you’re gonna have to go through the extremes Andy Dufresne did. But building a thriving business will require a lot from you.
It requires you to be hungry enough to relentlessly pursue your goal, no matter what you have to go through to get there.
Why missing this ingredient will doom your business
Hunger is a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. That’s the formal definition. It’s also described as a strong desire or craving.
This need to satisfy our physical hunger for food is something we’ve been doing since birth. As a baby, when you were hungry, you cried until someone fed you.
Even today, when hunger pangs hit me, I have a one track mind until my stomach gets fed.
But hunger isn’t just about food. The effects of hunger are present in all aspects of life.
Hunger makes you do crazy things. It’s what makes you quit a “stable, good paying job” to build your own business. It’s what makes you stay up all night long talking to the one you love, even when you have to get up early the next day. It’s what fuels you to forego that piece of cake, in favor of an apple when trying to get your body beach ready.
Without feelings of discomfort or weakness, or a strong desire to change your current circumstances, then there is no rational reason to alter your behavior.
That’s why hunger is essential. Especially when it comes to doing the work involved with building your dream business.
Tony Robbins describes the critical need for hunger this way:
“The single most important element of any human being that separates their level of success from the rest of the world, it’s hunger.
You show me somebody who’s not only hungry but doesn’t lose their hunger, they will dominate everything.
You lose your hunger, you get comfortable and go into a slump.”
Bottom line: hunger is your fuel.
It’s what will keep you from giving up. It’s what will put you on a relentless pursuit of your dream. It’s what will get you to crawl through any poo that stands between you and your goal.
Without it, it’s too easy to get complacent. Too easy to retreat to your comfort zone when things get hard. Too easy to accept a less than fortunate situation as “just the way it is.”
Simply put, without hunger, your business is doomed.
How to make sure the essential ingredient is always with you
You need a prize worth fighting for.
There’s no need to subject yourself to all the sweat, tears, and unglamorous work required to make your dream your reality, if the prize at the end of the journey isn’t worth it.
The prize you’re after has to drive you. For Andy DuFresne, it was living life as a free man. Living the rest of his life in prison wasn’t an option.
What’s your prize? What are you hungry for?
Once you’ve got a significant enough prize, you also need some pain.
You’ve got to have enough discomfort with your current situation, that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to change it.
You’ve got to have a desire so strong that the thought of not getting what you crave is almost unbearable.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
The discomfort will move you into action. The pain will make the status quo unacceptable to you.
So think about what will happen if you don’t make your business work. Think about what life will be like one, three, or five years from now if you don’t pursue your dream. Get a vivid image of what that will be in your mind.
Then compare that reality to what life would be like when you do claim your prize. How would your life be different? What will change in the lives of those you serve?
The second ingredient for business success
One of my favorite past times is roaming around. When I travel to cities in other countries, I like to get a feel for the place and the culture.
So I wander the streets and see what pops up. I watch what people are doing, and how they do it.
Sometimes I come across cool stuff. And other times, I just get a really good walk. Most of the time, I don’t end up any place in particular.
That’s a-ok with me, because my objective is to roam.
But when I’m a little more pressed for time, I take note of the places I want to see. I check the map, and then I make a plan for how to get from where I am to where I want to go.
Then I go off on a mission. And I don’t stop until I arrive at my landmark. It’s very different from when I’m wandering aimlessly.
The cool thing is I still get a feel for the streets and the city, but I do it while en route to my destination.
And that’s a-ok with me, because my objective is to go to a specific place.
The same principle applies to for your business. If you roam around aimlessly, with no real clear plan or thought about where you want to go, then you could just wander for months.
That’s no problem if your objective is to stumble upon different things as you build your business. But I suspect your goal isn’t to wander in this instance.
When you are clear about where you want to go, and what you are trying to accomplish, then everything changes. You make a plan. Then you work your plan until you reach your goal.
So the first step in getting what you want, is defining what you want. In other words, you’ve got to set goals.
How to make the second ingredient work for you
You’ve got to make it smart. When it comes to setting goals, you need to make sure they follow the SMART framework to make it work for you.
Here’s what SMART stands for:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – actionable
R – relevant
T – time bound
Let’s look at an example to illustrate how this works.
Let’s say you sell cupcakes, and you want to grow your business.
To make the goal specific, you could say “I want to increase my revenues by 10%,” or “I’d like to gain 100 new customers.
To ensure your goal is measurable, it has to be clear. It has to be something you can easily look at the data and say “yes, I achieved that,” or “no, I didn’t.” There’s no grey area when it comes to a measurable.
So in our example, we are able to clearly tell whether or not revenue increased by 10%. And we are able to track the number of new customers you get.
Another important element for goal setting, is that what you want to accomplish needs to be attainable.
Let’s say your business makes $30,000 annually. It would be a difficult to set a goal of making $1million dollars in a year, if that is your starting point. While it is possible, it is a long shot. And if you find yourself not on track to reaching your goals, a goal that is too large can be demoralizing.
A better approach would be to say your goal is to make $60,000 annually. Doubling your income within a specified time period is absolutely doable with focused action. It’s challenging enough to motivate you, but realistic enough to not derail your efforts before you even start.
For a goal to be relevant, it needs to be something that is meaningful to you. A lot of times, people will set goals by plucking arbitrary numbers or metrics that other people feel they should have.
But remember, having a hunger to reach your goals is essential. And that hunger comes when your goal is something that is personal and relevant to you, as opposed to an arbitrary goal that doesn’t mean much to you.
A great way to make your goal relevant is to be clear about what reaching the goal would mean to you. The more specific you are about the “why” behind your goal, the more meaningful and relevant it will be to you.
And the last component of setting SMART goals is to make your objective time-bound.
You’ve got to give it an end-date, to give your work a sense of urgency. So instead of, I’d like to “gain 100 new customers” a time-bound goal would be, “I’d like to gain 100 new customers within the next 6 months.”
Ready to begin your journey to success?
Here’s your homework for this week to help you apply the lessons, and lay the foundation for all the work that’s to come.
- Write down the primary goal you have for your business by the end of 2016? Make it SMART.
- How is your current situation in your business different from the primary goal you set? Write down what your starting point is today.
- Why are you hungry for this goal? What would life be like for you if by the end of 2016 your business is in the same position that it is today? Write it down.