What does it really take to build a successful business?
What does it really take to create clients?
What does it really take to earn a full time income on your own terms?
The answer to those questions lies in one simple secret. Of course, to build a successful business, there are lots of things that need to be done but, when you boil it down, this one thing is all you ever really need to do to guarantee success.
Yes, one simple secret to building a thriving business.
And it's really not so secret.
So if it's that simple and if it's not really a secret, why isn't everyone who tries to start their own business thriving?
Because it also happens to be the one thing that no one wants to hear about.
But today I'm going to tell you what that secret is and also show you how you can let it motivate rather than dishearten you.
The secret to building a successful business
I recently returned from a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course. This 10-day silent course is a real challenge and the technique is unlike anything I've ever practised before. A 0400 wake up call, 10 hours of meditation a day, hours at a time sitting in one position on a cushion on the floor and only a piece of fruit and a cup of tea to sustain you after 1100.
One might wonder why a person would put themselves through such a gruelling challenge.
But it's not hard to see why flocks of people are attending these courses every month across the world when you take a look at what the technique promises:
"Vipassana meditation aims at the highest spiritual goals of total liberation and full enlightenment; its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease. However, as a by-product of mental purification, many psychosomatic diseases are eradicated. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance. With continued practice, the meditation releases the tension developed in every day life, opening the knots tied by the old habit of reacting in an unbalanced way to pleasant and unpleasant situations."
Three times a day we gathered in the meditation hall for group instruction and meditation. And at the end of each of those sessions, the words of S.N.Goenka rang in our ears...
"The secret to success is continuity of practice. Work diligently. Work ardently. Work continuously."
And that we did. From 0430 to 2100 we stopped meditating only to eat, sleep and go to the toilet. And it doesn't end there. This isn't a 10 day course to enlightenment. Vipassana is a lifetime commitment. It's an art of living. To really reap the rewards of the technique, you must continue your practice every day until the day you die. And so on the final day of the course we were given firm instructions that the minimum required practice is one hour every morning and one hour every evening. And yet despite the transformative experience of the previous 10 days, on the final evening, when the silence is lifted, everyone is already talking about how two hours a day isn't possible and maybe they'll just try it for 30 minutes, once a day.
You have to do the work
And this is the secret to success. It's about doing the work. It's about continuity of practice. It's about showing up every day to do what you need to do. It's about commitment. It's about going all in. It's about doing the work even when you don't want to.
No, it's not rocket science.
The results without the work
And this is why no one wants to hear about it. Everyone wants the results without doing the work. Everyone wants liberation and enlightenment but no one wants to sit on a cushion for two hours a day. Everyone wants a thriving business, but no one wants to put in the hours, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year.
I know it's hard
It can feel almost impossible at times, this journey to successful self-employment. Sometimes you have to go a really long time without seeing the fruits of your effort. Sometimes there's a really steep learning curve and you feel as though you're never going to know all you need to know. Sometimes the simplest task can take hours from your day. Sometimes you want to throw your computer from the 3rd floor window and declare, 'I give up.' Sometimes you wonder if you're ever going to be able to earn a full time living on your own terms.
I know. I have felt all these things and more.
The only mistake you can ever make
There are, of course, lots of mistakes you can make whilst building your business. But once again, when you boil it down, there's only one that really matters. And that's giving up.
Since leaving my corporate job in 2012 there are countless occasions when I might have chosen to throw in the towel. Countless times it's felt as though I was getting nowhere. But I was lucky to hear this advice myself over and over again in the early days and it's always stuck with me.
Don't give up.
That doesn't mean that you blindly pursue the same ideas or keep doing things the same way if something really isn't working. But it does mean that you refuse to let it beat you. It means that you wake up every morning and start again. It means staying in the game.
Remember that every person who's ever built a thriving business also had to go through this process. We all have to start at the beginning.
You're in the minority and that's a REALLY good thing
Here's the good part. If you show up and do the work; if you continue to create your art, master your craft, and perfect your technique every single day; if you keep being willing to carry on even when you don't know if it's working then you're in the minority. The majority of people who have ideas to start their own business are in the 'I'll get away with meditating 30 minutes a day' camp. And that's good news for you. Because as they slowly drop away because doing the work is too much effort, you'll have your time to shine. Your moment will come.
What is the work, exactly?
So you know you need to do the work. You know you need to keep going. You know you need to dig deep and get your hands dirty. But what is the work you need to do, exactly? Just like with Vipassana, you have to know what you're doing when you sit down for your hour session and you have to concentrate. Otherwise, all you're doing is sitting down with your eyes closed for an hour and any Tom, Dick or Harry can do that. You have to make that hour count. So make sure you define what doing the work actually means for you.
For me this simply means:
Finding ways to serve every single day. That might mean writing a blog post, emailing a client, doing a coaching session, connecting with someone new and seeing how I can help or inviting someone to a powerful conversation.
Yes, you have to do the work. And yes, sometimes it gets tough. But remember why you're here and why you're doing this. Remember the future you're creating for yourself and the way in which you want to impact the world. When the going gets tough, remember, 'slow and steady wins the race.' And then just get back to doing the work. After all, it's the work you love to do.
Over to you...
What is the work you know you need to do to work towards building your thriving business?
Let me know in the comments below!