Swing for the fences

In business, just like baseball, most people strike out far more often than they hit a home run. In fact, outfielder Ty Cobb has the highest career batting average (.366 over his 24 year career). In other words, the man who most efficient at hitting the ball struck out or fouled out more than 63% of the time.

As a business coach, a lot of our entrepreneurial clients are hoping for a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will double their business and lead to ‘happily ever after’ results. While we have had clients more than double their business in a year (even after their initial high growth start up years), this is rare.

In short, . Failure, or more accurately, adversity, remains possibly the single best teaching mechanism in business. Now this can have a significant effect on the mental health, and self-confidence and self-efficacy of any entrepreneur. Because self-efficacy is so intricately tied to entrepreneurship, I wanted to dispel a few myths en route to encouraging more entrepreneurs to keep fighting the good fight, as well as encourage more potential founders to take the plunge and enjoy the journey.

Myth # 1: You might fail

This is no myth unfortunately, it’s very true, and something every entrepreneur must find a way to wrap their head around. That being said, failing in business is not always as dramatic as needing to lay off your entire team or having to shut down your business. Cliche as it might sound, failure (of your sales strategy or marketing campaign or talent recruitment initiative) leads to learning, which leads to success. In short, truly great entrepreneurs should be diving headfirst into a litany of small failures to learn faster and improve their chances of success.

Myth # 2: There are tons of experts who have figured it out even though you haven’t

This one is a major contention point for me, and it is a myth that rarely, if ever proves to be true. Please realize there a an endless array of bullshitters who would try and manipulate you into thinking they are massive successes so they can charge you money to ‘show you how’. Envious some ‘influencer’ posted a video from a private jet? There are companies who will rent you time on a private jet for $300 so you can film your “I made it” post – without ever leaving the tarmac.

En route to growing our business by over 1000% in the last 3 years, I have experienced;

  • more than one panic attack
  • a broken back
  • having all forms of credit maxed and not being able to access a dime
  • being rejected countless times for interviews, sales, you name it

One of my favorite expressions regarding being an entrepreneur is that running a business is the great equalizer; no one gets to take the escalator, everyone must take the stairs. This means every successful entrepreneur does have to figure it out the hard way – there are no short cuts. Even if a few of those who profess to offer their advice (including myself and our coaches) must be keenly aware that personal success does not lend itself to ‘magic pill’ solutions that will work for everyone. As a coach, I am always careful, if I give advice, to phrase it as “this is what has worked for me” – however our clients must disseminate any wisdom from our experience and apply it to their own challenges to learn, grow, and thrive or else we become a crutch. In this case, we don’t help our clients become better entrepreneurs which means we’d be doing them a disservice.

Myth # 3: You’ll hear “no” a lot

You probably guessed it – no myth here!

In our experience, most businesses are limited by not hearing ‘no’ enough. How can that possibly be? Two reasons. First, all things being equal – the more no’s you hear is correlated to the more opportunities you have. Being a numbers game (without compromising quality or integrity for volume), the more shots you take the more often you score.

Second, no’s (mini-failures) lead to learning. Great leaders reflect at times of failure. Did I hear no because of price, or was it my presentation? Did I ask my prospect enough questions to properly understand and qualify them? Personal reflection, combined with tracking everything and keeping solid business metrics – leads to better learning outcomes and greater chances of future success.

In short, ironically the best cure for ‘no’ is more ‘no’!

Myth # 4: My reputation will suffer if I fail (especially publicly)

This almost always proves to be a myth. I’m convinced that the only reason I’ve been hired to be a keynote speaker for different conferences, is because I once gave a speech to 3 people. I felt like a joke, but I gave the best speech I could to those 3 people, they each received a copy of my latest book, and by the end, the attendees all commented how everyone who didn’t show missed out. It’s been said before that the difference between the novice and the master is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried, and I agree!

While this article started talking about home runs, and how they are rare, it is still essential to step up to the plate on a regular basis for entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that the best way to build a solid business is brick-by-brick through consistent execution of solid business fundamentals. That being said, as you’re methodically growing organically, take a few potentially game-changing home run swings every now and then. I call this out S.T.A.W. metric (Shit Thrown Against the Wall). My philosophy is, if I take at least 1 S.T.A.W. attempt every week, and my ‘home run’ percentage is only 1%, then every 2 years I will experience at least one “how on Earth did you do that” success.

With our S.T.A.W. mentality, I have been shot down by the Dalai Lama, John Maxwell, and several of the top CEO’s in business for book interviews, and I have heard no or nothing at all from at least 40 conferences for speaking engagements when I was building my speaking career. A quick review of HubSpot revealed that we lost out on at least 24 potential clients in the last 2 years, one a month. I could go on, and the failures greatly outnumber the wins, although through S.T.A.W. I’ve also managed to be published in Entrepreneur magazine, Bizztor online, guest blogs, and I’ve appeared on 15 podcasts as a guest expert on topics ranging from leadership to sales to entrepreneurship. The discipline to accept, even pursue ‘no’ has given me more yeses than luck, talent, or skill has.

To you, brave entrepreneur, I implore that you accept yourself as human, incapable of perfection and prone to making mistakes, but also unique. May ‘no’ be your teacher, and may you find the bravery to step up to the plate for often. Fans may boo or get bored with all of the strike-outs headed your way, but only those brave enough to strike out can hit a home run, and if (WHEN) you hit your home runs, everybody forgets the strike-outs. That’s one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur – sales cures all. Hitting a home run helps you instantly recover from the last 20 (or 100) strike-outs.

May you swing for the fences, and enjoy the journey friends!