Take the Leap

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Recent research shows that in 2006 a record number of new businesses were started in the United States. While people have varying reasons for starting a new venture - necessity, desire, or curiosity - there is something magnetic and energizing about owning and operating an enterprise of one's own creation.

Nevertheless, starting a new business is still a risky venture. Well over 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years of getting started. Many people jump into business with their hearts and leave behind their heads. They believe that just because they have a good idea, customers will automatically come clamoring for them. Small business success is not automatic. Besides a good idea, it takes good planning, good fortune, good timing, and other good things to grow a prosperous company.

Many small businesses fail because the business owner was unprepared for the unpredictability of running a business. I want to make sure that if you're considering starting a business that you are well-equipped to do so. Here's my Top 10 list for what you need to do before starting that dream-inspired venture:

  1. Rehire your imagination - If you stopped dreaming back in your childhood, it's time to start again. You're going to need your creative thinking abilities more than ever before.
  2. Do your research - Success comes when preparation meets opportunity. Knowing your customer's needs, desires, and preferences prior to engaging them will allow you to connect with them more quickly and move you further ahead than just trying to "wing it."
  3. Write your plan - What doesn't get written usually doesn't get accomplished. Furthermore, it's easier to critique something that's on paper versus something that's just in your head.
  4. Establish SMART goals and milestones - Be realistic and determine what short and long term success looks like.
  5. Align with key people - Entrepreneurship is not for "lone rangers." For you to succeed over the long haul, you will need to develop key relationships with high-quality people who want you to succeed.
  6. Get wise counsel - Two things you need to do a lot of are listening and reading. Learning from someone else's failures is a lot less painful than having to learn from your own.
  7. Gather your resources - Do an inventory of your time, money, relationships, knowledge, ideas, materials, etc. Identify the gaps, comparing what you have versus what you need. Figure out some creative ways for reducing those gaps.
  8. Be flexible – Have a contingency plan, because your original idea might not work out exactly how you initially planned it.
  9. Bob and weave - Your marketplace can be a formidable opponent. Be ready to roll with the punches that are thrown at you and counter-punch when needed.
  10. Jump! - Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is feeling fear and doing what you need to do anyway!

There is one more key point I want to leave with you. Enjoy the journey. Remember, often times more is gained along the way to the goal, than in just reaching the goal itself. If you're ready... take the leap. I look forward to your success!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Get the Kink Out of Your Think!

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Your thoughts drive your beliefs, which drive your choices, which form your lifestyle, which determines your destiny.

There is a scripture in the Bible that reads, "A double minded person is unstable in all their ways" (James 1:6, paraphrased). A practical understanding of this scripture would be a person driving a car who is looking out the back window while driving the car forward. Unless he turns around and commits all of his attention to the same direction the car is going, he is going to crash.

Many people live their lives or run their businesses this way. Rather than focusing their mental energy and attention in positive areas, they spend too much time battling conflicting thoughts and perspectives. This type of battle usually results in confusion, frustration, and fatigue. They exist in a constant state of mental and emotional conflict.

What you focus on the most is what you will become. Contrary to what many people will admit, we all talk to ourselves. That's not the issue, though. The issue is what we are saying when we talk to ourselves. If we spend all our time reinforcing the negative thoughts that come to us, then most of the outcomes of our lives - which are really the sum of the decisions that we make - will be negative. However, if we spend more time dismissing those negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, then the outcome of our lives will be much more favorable.

You are what you eat. This is not just a principle of your physical health. It's also a principle of your mental health. You simply can't eat a mental junk food diet and stay mentally healthy. If you consistently feed your mind with media or conversations that are full of negative and destructive words, actions, and images, then you will spend a lot of your time dealing with negativity in your mind. Conversely, if you spend more of your time filling your mind with positive or constructive words, actions, and images, it will be much easier for you to engage positive thoughts to counterattack the negative thoughts when they come. The result is that over time, your actions will prove to be more constructive rather than destructive for yourself and others.

Know thyself, feed thyself. Many people say their media intake doesn't affect their behavior, yet over time their actions become a representation of what they have been eating. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good for you. Similar to a world-class athlete who disciplines her body to beat her competition, you must condition your mind to beat your competition in business and in life. You will not be able eat what everyone else is eating and stay ahead of them at the same time. If you want to move beyond your competition, you have to do things differently.

Some key benefits of feeding your mind a healthy diet include:

  1. Convictions - These are the collection of your non-negotiable core values and beliefs, which over time are influenced by your thoughts. A steady, healthy mental diet will allow you to develop personal integrity and a firm foundation of values on which to build your life.

  2. Clarity - Conflicting thoughts create confusion. Clarity comes when you are able to streamline your thoughts by deflecting negative thoughts with positive ones. You will then be able to find a clear direction when making key decisions.

  3. Confidence - It is difficult to be confident in challenging situations when you have unstable values and/or internal conflicts that cloud your direction. Being able to solidify your convictions and find your true direction allows you to develop boldness and a relentless "I will not lose" attitude in the face of adversity.
To get the kink out of your think, change your intake. Be very selective with what you watch, what you listen to, who you listen to, and what you read. Eat only those things that will build and edify your character and propel your life in a positive direction. You will gain the courage you need to make positively powerful decisions that benefit you and those connected to you.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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