7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship, Part 1: Impatience
There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re trying to start a business – and it doesn’t matter if you own Subway franchise, a multi-million dollar consulting business, or a collection of niche websites that aim to earn you money passively. Businesses large and small, simple and complex, all suffer from the same core problems with varying magnitudes.
To cover these issues (as I see them), I’ve decided to write a short series: The 7 Deadly Sins of Entrepreneurship. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of “sins” nor are they issues that ever entrepreneur will face. Ideally, if you’re doing everything 100% perfectly (which no one does), you won’t experience any of these. Today, I’ll start with the first one: Impatience.
When you’re just starting a business or in the middle of running one, you’re very active. Go go go is often the attitude you have, and it’s the attitude you associate with success. In many cases, more activity = greater results. It’s logical.
In some ways, I think starting a business is somewhat like baking. I’ll be the first to point out that I have yet to start a successful business AND have yet to do any real successful baking. (I tried to make cookies one time that turned out tasting like mini, flat cakes. It was weird.) I think the analogy works, however. I don’t care how badly you want to eat the cookies now – they need to bake for the proper amount of time, and you need to wait for them to cool off before you can enjoy them.
When you’re starting a business, there’s a lot you can do to accelerate the process (one of the big things is outsourcing), but your business’s growth only moves as fast as your customers do, and it only moves while you have the right amount of exposure to them. Or, to look at it from a “niche site” perspective, you’re only going to get clicks or sales once you have traffic, and you’ll only get traffic once you’ve been patient with the backlinking process (and the subsequent “Google dance” that often ensues).
Don’t Let Impatience Be the Reason You Fail
It’s very tempting to call it quits or admit defeat/failure before you’ve even given yourself the chance to succeed. People are generally optimistic (sometimes too optimistic), but they’re also very impatient. Impatience sometimes causes people to do crazy things. Most of these things can be overcome, but the one that can’t be overcome when a person decides to give up.
If you’re going to fail, so be it. We all make mistakes, we all fail at something. Most of us fail with many things. It’s how we learn and how we grow. Failing is often just as much a stepping stone to the “next level” as success is. We often learn a lot more through failure than we do through success. Maybe failure is just one of those necessary evils.
Guess which type of failure you learn nothing from? Giving up due to impatience. All you’ve learned by giving up is that you weren’t willing to wait around for real challenges or, perhaps, success.
How Can We Fight Impatience?
Telling someone to be patient is a lot like telling someone to be a better person. We know the end goal, but there isn’t a definite guide you can give someone to help them get there. I previously wrote a post titled “How to Be Patient With Lifestyle Design.” I’m not going to rewrite the entire post here, but I wanted to pull out a few tips for how to be patient:
1) Recognize that failure is everywhere – embrace it
People are often impatient, jumping from one thing to the next (prematurely) because they are afraid of failure. Waiting around for failure may sound like a reckless approach to entrepreneurship, but within reason, it’s not a bad thing. Sometimes failed projects only require minor tweaks to be successful. It’d be great to have a hit on your first attempt, but that’s not usually the way things go.
Take blogging, for example. In my first few months of blogging, traffic was extremely slow. I was writing consistently, but only seeing 20-30 visitors per day after a few months. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I’m doing all I can do, and these are my only results. It’s time to throw in the towel.” That’s simply not true. You can tweak your design. You can network with other bloggers. You can become more active in an online community.
There are a lot of little things you can do (and things that I did) to bring my blog out of a state of “failure.” I still don’t even consider this blog a complete success, but I know that being patient has paid off, and will continue to pay off, provided I continue putting in the work.
2) Stay within your area of interest
I stayed away from using the phrase, “follow your passion” because it’s becoming a bit too cliche. If you’re trying to be successful and make money with your own business, your passion is not always the best focus (this thought was recently inspired by Maren Kate’s post about building a passionless business). Instead, I’d simply say stick to something that you find interesting. This really helps pass the time when you’d otherwise become impatient (or bored) and give up.
3) Take a break
Your gut instinct when results aren’t coming as quickly as you’d like is to do more work. Although more work is sometimes the key to more results, it’s also often the path to burning out and giving up. Take a step back, and take a break. This might be something as short as a walk outside for 30 minutes, or as long as a week where you do nothing but watch TV and enjoy time with friends and family. You’ll be able to come back to your project with a fresh perspective and more patience than you had previously. You might even be able to more clearly see the reason why results haven’t come as planned.
Patience is really something that comes from within – you aren’t going to be able to find it externally. For most things in life, the consequences of being impatient are minor (like burning your mouth on freshly baked cookies that haven’t cooled off yet). In business, or as an entrepreneur, impatience can derail an entire project by either causing you to give up too soon, or take action that isn’t appropriate.
What do you think about impatience? Is it as bad as I’m making it out to be? Unfortunately, impatience isn’t the only thing that I believe can be “deadly” for your business. Stay tuned for “deadly sin” #2. To make sure you don’t miss any future updates, consider subscribing to my RSS feed. Also, I’d love it if you shared this post using the buttons below or in the left sidebar. Thanks!