Post by Yvonne DiVita, CEO, BlogPaws
Last week I came across a great article on the Small Business Trends site. It was delivered to me via Facebook, so if you’re reading about the uselessness of Facebook – brands abandoning it in droves – don’t jump on that bandwagon. Facebook has many uses and I, for one, will not be closing down my account any time soon.
The article on Small Biz Trends, as it’s known, was, “Fail Much? 7 Reasons Why People Don’t Succeed.” Did that catch your eye? Did you click over to read it, or are you still with me? Do read it but wait until you’re finished with this post, please.
Here is my gut reaction to Deborah Shane’s Small Biz Trends post, something I’m calling: 7 Steps to Remarkable Success in 2015. I’m following her points one at a time.
- Be remarkable. What does that mean – it means don’t follow the crowd. It means think creatively. It means do the hard things, the scary things, the things everyone says won’t work. I’ll be totally honest with you – if we, myself, Tom and Caroline (and Chloe when we could wrestle her away from her ‘day’ job), had listened to people back in 2009 when we started developing BlogPaws, there would be no BlogPaws. Because we were told it wouldn’t work. Not the way we were developing it. Enough said about that!
- Embrace change. Too many of us are afraid of change. We’re afraid of stepping off the beaten path to explore other meadows, other sandboxes, other ideas. We embrace the concepts and philosophies that have always worked, knowing their power will help us, too. And then, we discover the same-old, same-old is just that: old. Pin the famous Robert Frost poem to your office wall, where you will see it every day: The Road Not Taken, which concludes with this powerful statement:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Fake it until you make it. This one is a bit trickier. Shane says, “Clear out all your bad attitude roadblocks. Replace them with optimism and an awesome attitude. It’s magnetic.” She’s right. People prefer to work with other people who smile and say thank you and offer encouragement. But, I am one who does not like the idea of “faking” it. Truth be told, you either believe in your business and yourself, or you don’t. If you don’t…faking it won’t help. If you do, you can turn a bad day into a good day by faking it. I’ll tell you a secret but don’t pass this around – I have a lot of bad days. However, if you ask my team at BlogPaws how many bad days I have, they’ll give you a quizzical look. I rise in the morning thankful for each and every day. And when things don’t go as I like… I keep it private. Oh, what stories the dogs could tell.
- Learn. Study. Be better today than you were yesterday. Carol, Robbi and Felissa are so good at this, they make me proud! There would be no BlogPaws and no conference without the collective focus of my core team on studying new technologies and new marketing tactics. Yes, Tom and Chloe and I are always reading and learning and exploring also, but it’s the active, honest, necessary work Carol, Robbi and Felissa do that helps BlogPaws stay on the leading edge. We have a requirement at our office: Always Be In Learning Mode. The day you decide you “know it” all, is the day you begin your descent into failure.
- Be unique. Similar to “Be Remarkable” this quality requires a REAL focus on your competition. I am sad to say that I receive dozens of invitations from new brands, startups, folks venturing into that amazing world of entrepreneurship, showcasing their new idea…that isn’t a new idea. It’s the same idea fifty other people had. It’s an idea that is joining a crowded landscape. IF you have an idea, make it new and exciting. Spend a few weeks… let me repeat: spend a few weeks… not a day or two, researching your idea and discovering who else is out there doing what you do, or who might be doing something similar.
Understand that your competition is everything that takes your would-be customer away from your sales page. Everything. Not just other folks who sell what you sell, but folks who sell products that are tangential to your product. BlogPaws knows that our biggest competitors are the bloggers, themselves. If we can’t show them the power of working with us, if we don’t serve their needs and expectations, we know they’ll take matters into their own hands and launch their own blogger-to-brand business. Yes, we compete with the likes of BlogHer and Federated Media and others like them, but our focus needs to be on our bloggers, not on those businesses who do what we do. I recommend answering the question: How am I different (and better)? Then, BE better.
- Be on time. This one is loaded with expectation. Being on time is something we learn in school. Those bells that signal the end of one class and the beginning of another have us trained to move from place to place according to a schedule. Now that you’re on your own, are you following a schedule? Or, do you think that being your own boss is an invitation to ignore the clock? Not only should you be on time for meetings (one piece of advice I learned early in my entrepreneurial career is – if you’re not ten minutes early, you’re five minutes late), you should be on time for phone calls, for blog posts, for Facebook and Twitter and all the channels you operate in. Being on time doesn’t necessarily mean adhering to a clock… it sometimes means just showing up. Show up, be aware of the reason you’re showing up, bring the previous bullet points with you, and participate. While a famous celebrity is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” the truth is, you need to be on time and ready to engage. Showing up just isn’t enough.
- Understand yourself. Here’s a hard truth: maybe you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you want the freedom you think it offers, but you’re not able to pay the price. Maybe you enjoy the company water cooler and being home, by yourself, will drive you crazy. Maybe you lack the discipline, the belief in yourself, the competitive spirit needed to succeed in the wild, crazy, overwhelming world of being an entrepreneur. Maybe, just maybe, you need a boss. Because, when you’re accountable to someone else, you get things done.
I’m posing a “maybe”. I’m asking you to really think and explore and challenge yourself to bring everything you’ve got to the process of becoming successful as an entrepreneur. If it’s too scary, if it knocks you on your @ss and you hesitate to get up, maybe it’s not for you. Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful experience if you have the personality for it. It’s not so much fun if you don’t.
Because, in the end, when you trade your “job” and your “boss” for a world of managing your own life, your own day, your own business… you are, effectively, adding long hours of hard work to your life, and a whole bunch of bosses. You now work for your customers/clients; you work for your distributors; you work for Facebook.
Be honest and open about that. It’s not something you can fake… we’ll know.
And there you have it. Shane tells you why folks fail. I just told you how to succeed. We both made the same point: success is hard work.