I remember half way through building my third company I was feeling the pressure, big time. A few months earlier I finished raising another round of financing. It was quite a bit of money and was supposed to get our product designed and ready to be launched.
Except we were not hitting our numbers or projections.
We were burning through the money fairly quickly in salaries, rent, consultant fees, etc. The money was supposed to last us about 12 months and we were now licking the bottom of the barrel after only about 6 months.
It was way too early to go back to my investors for additional capital and banks were already not interested in funding us more than what we’d already borrowed. I had just stopped taking a salary in order to cover some expenses.
To make matters worse, one of my business partners was extremely hostile to how I was running the company.
And while the business was still creating a huge amount of attention and interest from the industries we were in (IT and finance), all I wanted to do was hide and feel sorry for myself.
Even worse, I was too embarrassed to seek outside help.
I was about to hit the wall.
Because of this experience, I have learned one of the best things that can happen to you and your business/career usually happens when you are about to hit that wall. Mainly because you give up and stop pretending you have all the answers and you know how it is supposed to go.
And many entrepreneurs hitting the wall drop their arrogance. Instead, they start to listen to others and look at their business from perspectives other than theirs.
And that is a great moment in your business’ evolution. You’ve just gotten out of your own way and others can now step in to help out.
Five Ways to Avoid Hitting the Wall
- Build an independent support team of experts—people who know what they are doing and do not have a vested interest in the outcome of your success. People that are truly neutral. They can take the form of a business coach, board of advisors, support team of experienced business people.
- Consider re-inventing your business/career model—if it ain’t working, fix it! Really think outside the box and re-assess what you thought was the “right” approach. And before doing anything, bounce off your team of experts!
- Redesign your environment—where you work, how you think, and what equipment you use. This constitutes the power of your business and might need rethinking. Is your office space unsupportive, are you using old, outdated equipment, and are you thinking clearly? If no to any of these questions, change it quickly!
- Be OK with not having the answer—male entrepreneurs really struggle with this one. The key is to open yourself to the possibility there are better ways to do what you want that you may not know about. If you are stuck in the, “I know that already” mode, you are closed and your results will continue to be quite predictable. When you accept you are not the expert, the one who is, is much more likely to show up!
- Stay focused on what you want—not what you don’t want! So many people get into the negative mindset when that wall is coming at them. Remember, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, and habits become destiny. If you say things like, “I don’t want to miss payroll”, “I don’t want more debt, or “Why me?” you are keeping yourself in that thought and destiny pattern. Shift your thoughts to more powerful ones, “How can I make payroll effortlessly”, “I am committed to financing this with sales”, or “I want it to be me!”
The part that many of us have a hard time trusting is that we don’t need to have all the answers or know how it is supposed to go in order to be successful. And yet that is exactly what stops us when we think we do have all the answers.
For me, I was fortunate with company #3, as I quickly pivoted and managed to only “kiss” the wall that time. A couple of years later, though, after 9/11 happened down the street from us, and our key angel investor died, we had to shut down.
Company #3 was a really good run, great lessons and great relationships I still maintain today.
Action Steps for the Week
Thinking about that Wall? Consumed by what it might mean for you? Hard to sleep at night wondering if and/or how you’ll avoid hitting it?
From here you are now ready to build. But it is most likely not in a way you imagine.
First, identify the key cause. NOTE: It is NOT “Lack of financing”. That is a result, not a cause.
Second, build your infrastructure to address this key cause. Team, resources, time lines, and milestones.
Third, have a third-party, experienced, objective person (or group of people) review your plan. Adjust accordingly.
Four, go! Don’t look back. Give your plan time to work (or not).
Remember, know you do not know how it is going to go and most importantly, be OK with this!