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How Does the “Illusion of Control” Impact Your Leadership or Business? 

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One of the earliest and most exciting lessons that we learn in life is that specific actions produce specific results. If we scream or cry, someone quickly appears to help us. As we progress through life, we continue to learn. We talk, walk, write, sing, hit a home run, make an A on a test, drive a car, change a tire, and on and on. Our efforts produce results. We are in control, and it’s a great feeling.

But is being in control always great? Is it even possible? 
Well-meaning teachers and parents reinforce the notion that we always can and should be in control. 

  • “Next time, try harder.” 
  • “Figure out what you did wrong, so you do it better next time.” 
  • “Remember, how well you do is up to you.” 

While all of this is good advice for some situations, many times, it just isn’t right. Even worse, it can lead to frustration and failure to adequately prepare for setbacks.

Psychologists refer to the Illusion of Control as a specific type of cognitive bias. This bias makes individuals or even entire groups -companies or legislative bodies- believe that they can control outcomes which, realistically, they cannot.

We may be in control of specific individualized outcomes like whether we lose five pounds or learn to play a particular song on the piano. However, it is not possible to control more complex interactions, nor is it always in our best interest to try and do so.

On a personal level, we may recognize that we can control our actions and feelings but not those of others. But, how does the Illusion of Control bias impact our decisions and actions as successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? 

The Illusion of Control and Our Employees
While controlling others may seem to be a sign of strength, true leadership means bringing out the best in our employees. The notion that we must control our employees can lead to inefficiencies such as micro-management or not empowering employees. Or, even worse, we may hire less competent employees that we feel we can control more easily. Instead of focusing on control, successful leaders ask:

  • How can I empower my employees?
  • Do my employees have the tools that they need to do the job?
  • How can I encourage my employees to achieve the best results?
  • What traits can I hire to help my business grow?

The Illusion of Control and Our Customers
Customers make or break any business. You can control many factors that may influence customer behavior, such as developing what you believe is a great product and conducting a well-designed marketing campaign. Ultimately though, you can’t force anyone to buy from you. If customers aren’t flocking to your door, do you try harder to control their behavior, with more product features and more advertising? Maybe. But first, try finding answers to these questions:

  • What do customers really want?
  • What are my potential customers buying as an alternative?
  • Are there other potential customers that I have not considered?

The Illusion of Control and our Competitors
While you are busy running your business, the fact is that many other aspiring leaders are out there running theirs as well. You may be executing your strategy with military-like precision, but military strategy tells us, “the enemy gets a vote.” In other words, what your competitors do impacts the effectiveness of your strategy. Suffering from Illusion of Control bias can leave you vulnerable, believing that you do not need to have contingency plans. However, one of the characteristics of a leader must be flexibility.

  • What will you do if a more significant competitor opens near you?
  • What if the competition slashes prices?
  • Can you develop other products, customer bases, or revenue streams so that you are not so vulnerable?

The Illusion of Control and External Circumstances
Maybe you have developed great relationships with employees and customers. Your team has created a good product, and the company is profitable. Is this the point where you finally get to feel that you are in control? As an Executive Coach, I would recommend that you keep in mind that anything may change. 

Are you prepared for the loss of a key employee? What about damaging PR that affects customer relationships? Or, what about external factors such as a severe economic downturn or a natural disaster? Maybe even a disruptive product appearing on the market and almost overnight everything your company produces becomes obsolete? 

Find Opportunity In Chaos
These are all factors that you cannot control. If you suffer from Illusion of Control bias, you won’t even consider these kinds of events. However, developing your leadership skills and growing your business also means planning for worst-case scenarios such as these. In fact, it may even mean seeking ways to benefit from adverse situations. You might have to learn to be a surfer. Don’t fight or control the waves, but ride them instead.

- Loss of a key employee? Prepare by investing in the training and development of all employees. Allow others the opportunity to stretch their wings and make new contributions to your company.

- Damaging PR? This is an opportunity to show customers that you'll do what it takes to make things right.

- Economic downturn? Offer affordable alternatives to the competition.

- Natural disaster? Reach out to the community. This may not be a time for selling, but it is an excellent time for relationship and community building. And, if your physical location wiped out, maybe this is a great time to focus on your online brand.

- Disruptive technology from the competition? How can you adopt it too?

Instead of believing they are always in control, successful business leaders believe in embracing market changes and profiting from it too. They see opportunity when others see chaos. 

Recognizing how little you cn control is the first step to empowering yourself to deal creatively with the many things that are beyond your control.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with others. As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. 

Sincerely,

Stewart 

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Don't be a victim of the "Curse of Knowledge."

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What is the Curse of Knowledge bias?

Many successful entrepreneurs and executives get their start as experts in their field. For example, tech giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were experts. And, what about local business people that you know? Your doctor, beautician, and auto-mechanic all may be experts in their field and may also be the owners of their practice or shop. They are probably very knowledgeable and have much to offer clients and customers.

With so much expertise, what could go wrong?

The aspiring entrepreneur or executive, who is also a subject matter expert in their field, may suffer from what psychologists call “curse of knowledge” bias. So, what does this mean and how does it impact our success?

Successful entrepreneurs and executives need to communicate effectively. Think about it. Business success depends on relationships and relationships depend on clear communication. This is where the “curse of knowledge” bias gets in the way. The expert tends to communicate with others as though they are experts too. They have difficulty breaking down complex concepts that they have long understood and struggle even to find words to use other than the specific jargon of their field.

How does the Curse of Knowledge Bias impact a business?

Let’s look at a few hypothetical examples.

Example 1:

After a successful performing career, professional ballerina Nikita decides to open a dance school. She meets with a website designer. Nikita insists that the website feature the fact that she is trained in the Vaganova method and that all classes begin with a traditional barre and progress to the adagio. The website is built and Nikita loves it! It gets decent traffic, but very few parents actually enroll their children in Nikita’s classes. Why? They have no clue what the Vaganova method is. They just know that their children want to have fun and be princess ballerinas. So, they signed up at the other local studio, the one with the website featuring pictures of smiling children in tutus. Nikita’s website doesn’t really speak to them. Curse of Knowledge bias = Marketing Fail!

Example 2:

Joe went for some medical tests and was more than a little nervous about the results. The doctor ever so patiently explained about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and neuro-transmitters, but Joe didn’t really understand what those words meant. He ended up feeling more anxious than ever. Confused and upset, he decides to see another doctor. Curse of Knowledge bias = Client Relationship Fail!

Example 3:

Lonnie’s family has been in the nursery and greenhouse business for three generations, supplying plants and trees to landscapers and homeowners. Lonnie grew up in the business and knows everything there is to know about plants. It’s almost fall, and Lonnie is very busy. He hops in his pickup truck and before taking off, asks a couple of students that he recently hired to move all of the deciduous trees to the back of the lot of potted trees for sale. They are left staring at each other, wondering which trees, exactly, they are supposed to move. They find oaks and maples, as well as cedars and pines, but nothing called deciduous. As you may or may not know, Lonnie simply wanted them to move the trees that would soon lose their leaves, but his employees did not understand the instructions. Curse of Knowledge bias = Employee Management Fail!

5 Tips to Overcome the Curse of Knowledge Bias

There is nothing wrong with being an expert. In fact, it is usually a tremendous advantage. If you are an expert though, be wary of the Curse of Knowledge bias. You can use these five tips to overcome it in all your communication:

  1. Know your audience - Like a good speaker or stand-up comic, know your audience. What is their background? Nikita’s potential customers aren’t ballet aficionados, they are suburban moms. The patient, Joe, is an engineer, not a doctor. And the students who work for Lonnie? They are willing to work hard, but one is studying music and the other is learning software development. They are not botanists.
  2. Check your vocabulary - Are you using words that your customers, employees or others may not understand? Joe didn’t get “neurotransmitter.” If the doctor had explained that it is a substance that sends an impulse from one nerve to another, Joe, being a reasonably intelligent person could have understood better.
  3. Know your customers - This is at the heart of effective marketing and customer relationships. Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean that your customers do. In the case of Joe, some reassurance from the doctor that he would feel better soon would have gone a lot further than a science lecture.
  4. Educate your customers, but do it gradually - Start with what they want, then show them how it can be even better. If Nikita had managed to gain those suburban moms and their adorable children as her customers, she could gradually introduce them to the wonders of classical ballet and what it takes to truly become a star.
  5. Consider the “why” - Sometimes that is the most effective way to communicate. All Lonnie needed to tell his employees was, “Move the maples and the oaks to the back. They’ll be losing their leaves soon and we don’t want leaves everywhere.”

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I always enjoy hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Stewart Swayze 

 

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Decision Making - 5 Best Practices to Overcome Confirmation Bias

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So, you started your own business. Making that choice indicates that you probably have many great entrepreneurial characteristics. You are confident, smart, willing to work hard, and don’t mind making decisions.

Growing from solo entrepreneur to a successful business owner, you will be faced with more and more decisions: hiring, location, finance, business planning, products to develop, marketing, and more. Even if you wear many hats, good decision making is possibly your most important task. Ultimately, though you may seek advice, it is the one task that you must do yourself.
 
How can you hone this critical entrepreneurial ability?
 
It may come as a surprise, but your confidence, smarts and willingness to work hard can get in the way. Having a sense that you are right about a lot of things can contribute to what psychologists call confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek or perceive information in a way that reinforces what we already believe, even though we think we are seeking the truth. And, for the aspiring entrepreneur, that terrific willingness to work hard may make it worse, since we believe it is possible to push through problems rather than consider them seriously.
 
How does Confirmation Bias impact our decisions?
 
On a simple level, most of us realize that certain biased hiring practices are wrong and that it is a good idea to bounce ideas off a spouse, partner or trusted friend. But avoiding confirmation bias goes much deeper. It involves developing specific standards for how we seek information, how we interact with others and even how we think. That sounds like a big ask, so first, let’s explore why it is so important.

Hypothetically, Zach thinks he has an excellent idea for a product. All his friends think so too. Zach does a lot of homework. He knows what it will cost to make this product and where he can have it made. Zach knows some people at a great marketing agency, and they even have some preliminary designs. Zach does some random surveys at several local coffee houses that he frequents, asking people if they would buy this product. The results are overwhelmingly enthusiastic. He checked all the boxes and is ready to take out a line of credit on his house.
 
Good for Zach, right? Wait.
 
When was the last time you drank a Crystal Pepsi or checked your Instagram from your HP Touchpad? Not recently, probably never. Both colossal business failures came from companies with much more money and recognition than the average entrepreneur. If they can fail, anyone can. The flaw in our hypothetical friend Zach’s approach, and in the approach of many large businesses, is that merely because it's ours, we think it's an excellent idea. Even under the guise of researching, we are just seeking confirmation. Zach’s research would have served him better if he had also asked what people thought was wrong with the product. And, chances are, people at the places he frequents already think like him. Seems that maybe he wasn’t seeking data, after all, just confirmation.
 
Confirmation bias can, unfortunately, lead to fundamentally flawed decision making.
 
Let’s look at how confirmation bias affects our staffing. Yes, not being swayed by gender, ethnicity or religion is the fair, legal and ethical approach to hiring, but it also can strengthen the business. Hiring only those who are already likely to think like you, coupled with the fact that you are the boss, makes it unlikely that you will benefit from having your ideas questioned. It may be good to have employees who encourage you to put on the brakes when you're heading towards a cliff. Great entrepreneurial leadership isn’t about always being right, but instead, seeking the best answers.
 
How do we recognize confirmation bias?
 
You must recognize that we all have biases. We are wired that way for our protection. On a simple level, our biases mean that we don’t eat things that smell bad, try to shake hands with a bear, or give our credit card numbers to scammers. On a more complex level though, biases prevent us from seeing all nuances of a situation.

Our efficient, basic survival brain seeks confirmation. Our complex, business survival brain needs to develop the entrepreneurial skills to see all angles. The online entrepreneur navigating the global marketplace and the brick-and-mortar venture navigating the neighborhood both have much to consider.
 
How do we overcome confirmation bias?
 
Can we grow past this fundamental, built-in tendency? Here are five practices you can start now to improve yourself and your business.
 
1 – Sleep on It. It may seem strong and smart to shoot from the hip and make an immediate decision. But, it’s almost a sure-fire way to depend mostly on your own biases. The world won’t wait forever, but it usually will wait at least overnight.
 
2 – Play or Find a Devil’s Advocate. Instead of seeking evidence that you are right, look for all the reasons why you may be wrong. Even better, encourage your employees to do this. Find a coach or advisor. Be okay with disagreement and keep the channels of communication open.
 
3 – Use the Rule of Threes. Instead of trying to prove that one idea is great, why not try to find out which is the best of three ideas? Or the best of three perfect candidates, or the best of three ideal locations?
 
4 – Integration of Ideas. Once you listen to opposing ideas, maybe you realize that your first take was wrong. But none of the proposed alternatives seem right either. Sometimes the best solution is an integration of ideas.
 
5 – Realize It Isn’t About You. You want to succeed, don’t you? Love your business more than your ego. Ultimately, whether an idea you have is right or wrong is neither endorsement nor indictment of you as a person. But a successful business is a lasting legacy, a reflection of your leadership and wisdom. 

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

- Stewart 

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How to Make Failure Count

Learning from failure

"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail." ~ Edwin Land


It’s time to get out of your head and start taking action. No matter the size of your action, start moving forward. You cannot succeed or fail until you get that idea out into the world. The truth is, sometimes you’ll be right, and sometimes you’ll be wrong. Either way, you will learn from the journey.
 
Doing something new, challenging the status quo, or testing limiting beliefs can be a scary process. But staying safe by not acting, that gets you nowhere. The key is to track your data. Learn from success and from failure. Know your data like the back of your hand. All data is useful data. Stop guessing what went right or wrong.
 
Learning from failure
 
A while ago, I was about to run my first AdWords campaign. As a Strategy Consultant, I’ve recommended AdWords campaigns on numerous occasions. However, designing and executing an AdWords campaign was something new to me as an Executive & Business Coach. I was nervous as hell. There was a real risk of losing my cold hard cash. Gulp!
 
Guess what?! My first AdWords campaign flopped. Zero Conversions. ZERO! At first, I was disappointed. Some might say I wasted money and should have hired a professional. But, that disappointment quickly changed into positive insights. I had an idea in my head. I took action. I reframed the experience and learned.
 
My Executive & Business Coaching services were new, and I only had few clients. My AdWords campaign was set up to drive traffic to a landing page and convert unique visitors into new clients. Here’s what I learned from that “failed” campaign:

  • Detailed demographical data for my target audience
  • Time of day my audience is surfing the internet
  • Precise locations of my target audience
  • That my landing page needs optimization
  • That my AdWords campaign needs optimization
  • The average Cost Per Click (CPC) for my keywords
  • Exact keywords for future blog posts, copywriting, marketing, ad campaigns, etc.
  • More … more … more

I could go on, but I’m sure you understand the point. You must move forward and take risks. No matter how big or small the action, take that first step. Then, make the next one. As you move forward with each step, inertia takes place. Next thing you know, you’ll be flying down that path towards success.
 
Failure is a course corrector
 
Let’s go back to that AdWords Campaign again. Sure, I lost some money and a few hours of time. That sucks. But, what if I didn’t run that campaign? What if I didn’t learn those lessons and collect all that data? What if I waited until I spent several months putting together a giant online video course (coming soon) and then ran my first AdWords campaign? If that were the case, I wouldn’t know, in detail, all the lessons learned from above. Months of time and money could be lost.
 
Wait, but Stewart, you already knew your target audience and a lot of the other information too. You conducted research and developed Buyer Personas, right? Yes, yes I did. However, my research and Buyer Personas were based off hypotheses, not hard data. Now, I have actual data. Now, I have well-informed Buyer Personas, demographics, and psychographics of target my audience.
 
My “failure” in one campaign has already led to the success of many others. That failed AdWords campaign corrected my course of action for the future.
 
Find a process to track your actions and decisions
 
Always track your actions. The process to track your actions and decisions doesn’t have to be automated or complicated. It can be as simple as a journal. Consider using a cradle to grave analysis. Write your actions and decisions in a journal from the beginning to the end. Once you reach the end, analyze the wing-to-wing process and decisions you made along the way.

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What were the strengths?
  • Where are your opportunities for improvement?
  • What were your lessons learned? (positive/negative)
  • How can you apply those lessons learned next time?

 
Preserve and Pivot
 
When something goes well, preserve those findings. Adapt, rinse, and repeat successful actions. If something didn’t go well, take the time to develop a deep understanding of why. What happened that was under your control? What happened that you could have influenced differently? What happened that was entirely out of your control?
 
Start with what you can control. Pivot away from actions if they resulted in negative results. Then, look at what you could have influenced. Determine steps you can take, next time, to positively influence the outcome. For anything outside of your control, relax and smile. Understand sometimes this happens. I’d still analyze what was out of your control. You might find ways to mitigate or reduce your risk moving forward.
 
To wrap it up, take action. Move forward. Learn from each step by developing a process to track your data. Use data to preserve the positive and pivot away from the negative. Have fun and enjoy your journey!

- Stewart 

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How to Determine Your Rates as a Freelancer, Consultant, Coach, or Professional Service Provider

How to determine your rate as a freelancer coach consultant

 

Setting rates is a personal decision, but I’ll provide insights into my process

 If you google “what’s the average rate of an ABC123 freelancer," you'll find all sorts of recommendations and information. Determining your rate can be extremely difficult. It's a gigantic “depends burger” with a side of fries (the market) and a shake (your competitors). You'll have to sort through the plethora of information, test, and decide what the market will accept. You’ll have to look at your knowledge, skills, experience, and unique selling proposition. You’ll need to find comparable competitors to analyze.When I started out, I spent hours researching rates specific to consulting. Then, rates specific to sub-categories of consulting. Next, I spent more time adding in factors such as my education, experience level, and all that jazz. Finally, I built an Excel with segmented rate and financial models. None of it held up. The depends burger strikes again.

For me, my rates as an Executive & Business Coach are different than my rates as a Strategy Consultant are different. However, I've gone through a lot of trail, error, and analysis to come up with my rates. The exercise below will help you deteremine the rates that are appropriate for you. 

At first, you might think the next few pages are more personal finance advice versus rate advice. You are correct! Personal finance plays a central role in setting your rates. Stay with me. It will make sense in the end. Let’s cut to the chase and try to simplify this process a bit. 

I’m going to provide an illustrative example. The math is NOT intended to be perfect. Instead, it’s designed to help you think through your rate-setting process from a holistic perspective.

 High-level steps to determine rates

1) Determine how much you NEED to make in a year to survive2) Add a small, but "wants" amount (vacations, entertainment, dining out, new furniture, personal electronics, etc.) 

3) How much for your contingency "oh crap" fund? 

4) How much do you want to add to your savings and retirement accounts?

5) Add a tax estimate on top of that. I use a conservative number of 30%

Let’s use an illustrative example with round numbers to see where we stand: 

1) NEEDS: Rent/Mortgage, Clothes, Utilities, Food, Car Payment, Credit Card Payments, Student Loans, Healthcare, and any other needs = $120,000 / year

2) Wants ($7500): $120K + $7.5K = $127,5003) Contingency ($7500): $127.5K + $7.5K = $135,000

4) Savings & Retirement ($10,000): $135 + $10K = $145,000

5) Tax Estimate (30%): 30% of $145K = $43.5K; $145K + $43.5K = $188,500

Again, let’s keep it simple and round up to $200,000. You’ll understand why I added another $11,500 in a second. 

 How does this illustrative calculation help you? 

Now, you have a goal that you can use to determine your rates. “Whoa, wait! I’ll have to generate $200K in revenue to cover what you need, savings, contingency, wants, and taxes … Yes. This example isn’t to scare you. Instead, it’s to make sure you think through and plan for the reality! Now let’s talk about that extra $11,500. 

 We are missing something in this calculation

The amount could be large or small about depending on your business. Within the 5-step process, we didn’t calculate your startup or operating expense. Enter the extra $11,500. I have no way of determining your startup, monthly, or yearly operating expenses. Keep them as low as possible. $11,500 could be extremely high. You’ll have to estimate and factor those expenses into your rates at some point. For now, let’s use extra $11.5K as your startup and operating expenses and keep the overall revenue goal of $200K to continue the example.

How do we translate our above calculations into rates?

If we need and want to generate $200K in revenue, we can determine our “desired” rate. If you do a little research, you’ll find there are approximately 260 working days in a year. Now let’s do some calculations:

•    $200,000 / 260 = $769 dollars per day

•    $769 dollars per day / 8 hours = $96 dollars per hour 

Great! So, if your goal is to generate $200K in revenue, you just calculated your rate. Your rate is approximately $100 per hour.  

Sorry to do this again, but wait, this is an illustrative example. More than likely, you won’t have 40 hours of work every single week of the year. So, you’ll need to mitigate the potential for a variable workload. To do this, consider increasing your rate to $150 — $200 per hour. 

What if you plan on charging a per project or flat fee rate? How do you calculate that rate? We’ll discuss that next. 

Wait, I don’t charge per hour. I provide a flat rate per project

Hmmm…this might be true. But, if you aren’t calculating hours within your flat rates, you could be charging too much or too little. When I charge on a per project basis, I estimate how many hours the project will take. Then, I multiply the number of hours by my hourly rate. This calculation provides me with an estimate for my flat rate. 

Example: 30 hours to complete Project A. Hourly Rate of $200. Flat fee rate of $6,000. 

At this point, I may add or subtract from that number. Here comes the depends burger again. If it’s a new client with the potential for on-going projects, I might reduce my project rate. If it’s a rush project, I might increase my rate. There are other factors to think through as well. Will the “market” accept your rate? Or, is closest comparable competition charging less or more?  

Where do people make the biggest mistake? 

Let me be frank and excuse my language a bit. You WILL get kicked in the butt if you don’t KNOW your NEEDS and set aside money for taxes. You’ll be rolling along, having a great year, thinking, “Damn, I made $120K this year! Freaking amazing. I’ve covered all my needs.” 

Then, boom! It’s tax season. You needed $120K. You made $120K. But wait, you forgot about taxes. “I owe what in taxes? Oh crap! I’m short. My cash flow is crushed. My bank account is sunk. Mom, dad, friend, brother, sister … can I borrow some money?” 

Your mistake, you generated a “pre-tax” gross revenue of $120K. THIS IS NOT NET INCOME! If you don’t plan, set up your accounts, and automatically set aside part of your revenue for taxes, this can literally put you out of business. Done and dusted. 

This happens all the time when someone switches from a position within a corporate environment over to solopreneurship. When you’re working for a company, your taxes, retirement, healthcare, and everything else is automatically deducted from your paycheck. It just happens. You don’t do a thing. You know your take-home pay and budget based on Net Income. 

Now you’re in charge, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Don’t make this mistake. Talk with your financial advisor and accountant. Set up a bank account that, if possible, automatically transfer a certain percentage, for taxes, into a separate account. 

The moment revenue drops into your business account, transfer funds into separate accounts for taxes, savings, retirement, etc.

This article is an excerpt from my Free Guide: “Going Solo – An Introductory Guide to Service Based ‘Solopreneurship.” If you found value in this article, feel free to download the guide here. It provides a ton of information on the fundamentals of starting and marketing your business.  

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Overconfidence: The Silent Killer of An Entrepreneur’s Dreams

Overconfidence Entrepreneurship

What is Overconfidence Bias in Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a challenging journey. As an entrepreneur, you need to be confident in your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Confidence allows entrepreneurs to step outside of traditional corporate America, start a company, and take risks that result in massive action.  In fact, as an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions with limited time, resources, or people to ask questions. But, you must be aware of overconfidence. 

Overconfident entrepreneurs increase their risk of failure. “Overconfidence is overestimation of one’s accuracy, or, alternatively, an overestimation of ability relative to others, and links with increased failure risk of firms (Hayward et al., 2006).” 

Simply put, you believe you are more likely to be correct than you actually are. You don’t try to improve your understanding of a challenge, risk, or assumption. You don’t crosscheck perceived “facts” or seek alternative perspectives.  

How Does Overconfidence Impact an Entrepreneur? 

When you are overconfident, you use hindsight to reinforce your decisions. You look back at previous successful results and automatically assume a positive outcome without considering the full spectrum of possibilities. You overestimate your talent and underestimate the risks. Your mind forms an answer that seems right and you take action without all of the facts.

The problem with this mindset, you eliminate any notion of activities that were out of your control, but positively impacted the previous outcome. 

What if your previous decision was successful due to luck? Maybe, the stars aligned and you correctly guessed the timing of the market. In hindsight, your mind turns that “guess” into a fact. The worst part, you won’t even know it’s happening. Hindsight coupled with overconfidence is a dangerous activity. 

Research shows that overconfident entrepreneurs tend to ignore the strengths of their direct competitors (Moore & Cain, 2007). Next thing you know, your competitor disrupts the market and steals your customers. These entrepreneurs introduce a high-risk product. Then, they are surprised when that product fails. They rely heavily on their knowledge instead of asking for advice, help, or resources from others (Hayward et al., 2006). Or, they seek out the high-familiar option while neglecting any other option (Winston Sieck, Ed Merkle, & Trish Van Zandt). Any of these mistakes can be fatal to your business. 

How to Reduce the Risks of Overconfidence  

Self-awareness is the first step to reducing the risk of overconfidence. Reading this article and thinking through your decision-making process is a positive action. You need to set up counterbalancing or self-regulatory mechanisms (Hmieleski & Baron, 2008). Guess what, you don’t have all the answers. Welcome to the club, neither do I! Check yourself. 

1) Take some time to seek out alternative perspectives

Assign one or two people from your team to be the skeptic or devil's advocate. During a short discussion, have them sell or present other options. If you don’t have a team, how long does it take to phone a mentor? Consider finding an experienced mentor that understands your business. Develop a network of diverse advisors, people outside your area of expertise, market, or niche. Example: I’m a Success Coach for Entrepreneurs. Some of my best advisors don’t know anything about Entrepreneurship, Coaching, or Business. They ask questions that completely challenge my assumptions out of pure curiosity. They have the best BS meter and aren’t afraid to call me out. Hire a coach to bounce ideas off. 

How much longer will seeking alternative perspectives take? Maybe, you’ll need one-hour tops. I’m willing to bet you can wait an hour, especially when it’s a high-risk decision. 

2) Consider conducting a more research 

Seriously, I shouldn’t have to tell you this. You can find anything on the Internet. You’ll discover a ton of information on blogs, in downloadable white papers, and on your competitor’s websites. It is crazy how much information I find conducting competitive intelligence. As long as it’s public information, you are good to go. 

3) Reach out to experts

You might have to reach out to a few people, but I’m sure you’ll find experts happy to share their knowledge with you. For my business, I interview experts all the time. Some experts will ask for you to pay for their time, while others will speak with you for free. Either way, let’s say the right answer will generate or save you $10,000. If you pay eight experts $200 for an hour of their time was the $1600 worth it? You have opinions and advice from eight experts! 

4) Hire based on diversity of thought

Teach your employees the skills they need. Don’t build a culture of “Yes” people. Encourage alternative perspectives and challenge the status quo. But, find a balance. You’re the leader, when you make a decision your employees will work together, act fast, and execute at the highest level. 

Final thoughts

Keep your high level of confidence. Go out there and build the company of your dreams. Increase your self-awareness around overconfidence. Use the techniques above to create a simple process to keep yourself and/or your team in check. I’ll leave you with this quote: 

"If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?" – Henry Ford

I hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. 

- Stewart 

Learn more: Entrepreneurship Coaching 

 

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Organizational Skills Can Significantly Impact Your Success! (Video)

Learn more: https://www.stewartswayze.com/coaching/

I remember the first year I filed my self-employment taxes. I was sweating, frustrated, and a bit scared. Not because I didn’t know how to file taxes. Not because how much I had to pay. Nope. None of that bothered me.

There was another more significant problem. It was my total lack of organization. I couldn’t find anything. I had receipts in my desk drawers,in my “receipts” case, laptop bag, filing cabinets, and even found a few in my luggage. Yep, buried deep down in my luggage.

Think about it this way, my unorganized mess caused unneeded stress, inefficiency, anxiety, and time. We all know time is money! Lesson learned.

The second time, damn I was organized. I had everything in the correct place. I had bookkeeping and accounting software ... with the click of a button, financial reports printed off in perfect format. Opened up one drawer, receipts in hand. Zip, zoom, bang, and done and off to the accountant.

If you want to be successful you must work on your organizational skills. This type of organization includes offline and online, paperwork in filing cabinets, or cloud-based folders.

Organization increases efficiency. You reduce the time spent on mundane tasks and free up time to work on growing your business.

Thanks for watching and see you next time. As always, if you have any success tips, feel free to connect, comment, and share!

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Article RoundUp: The Psychology of Entrepreneurship

The Psychology of Entrepreneurship

Often overlooked or overshadowed by the thought of making millions of dollars, Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs need to understand the psychological impact of starting a business. Here are five articles you might find interesting to read and digest.   

1) What Is a Digital Nomad? The Psychological Impact of Entrepreneurship – By Mark Goddard (Health Guidance)

  • Nomads lack roots, but people need to belong
  • Nomads might be surrounded by people, but often these relationships lack intimacy and are superficial
  • Loneliness can be a major problem, find ways to develop deeper connections with people

2) How Temperament Impacts Entrepreneurship – By Petra Starkova (Psychology Today)

There are four noted personality types in entrepreneurship

The Sanguine

  • Advantages – Composure, Good at Marketing, PR, and Communication
  • Disadvantages – May lack the ability to understand others deeply or empathize

The Choleric

  • Advantages – Act quickly on Impulses, excel when daily change = seizing on opportunities to create $Cash
  • Disadvantages – Easily thrown off balance and into fits of anger when things don’t go their way

The Melancholic

  • Advantages - Reliability and Stability as both business and relationship partner
  • Disadvantages - Disposition to pessimism and solitude

The Phlegmatic

  • Advantages – Cool, calm, and collected
  • Disadvantages – Slow to react to change

3) What Makes Entrepreneurs Burn Out – By Eva de MolJeff PollackViolet T. Ho (Harvard Business Review)

  • Survey of 326 members of Business Networking International
  • Entrepreneurs who reported high scores of obsessive passion were more likely to say they experienced burnout than those who reported high scores of harmonious passion
  • Obsessive Passion: “The job is important to someone because of the status, money, or other rewards that it brings”
  • Harmonious Passion: “Someone is motivated by the job because it brings them satisfaction and is an important part of who they are”

4) Entrepreneurs Should Watch Out for Cognitive Biases and the Curse of Knowledge – By Yair Harel (Entrepreneur Magazine)

  • Entrepreneurs face many obstacles, but the most treacherous obstacles are in their own minds
  • Cognitive biases - mental gremlins that sabotage the ability to collect the right information, assess it properly and make good decisions
  • As an Entrepreneur, you are highly susceptible to cognitive biases
  • Two of the most hazardous biases to the entrepreneurial process are:
    • Confirmation bias – “The tendency to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms one's own existing preconceptions, beliefs and opinions”
    • Curse of knowledge - Causes a better-informed person to find it difficult to look at a situation from the point of view of a lesser-informed person”

5) The Psychological Reasons Women Fall In Love With Entrepreneurship - By Julia Novakovich (Equities.com)

  • Women are entering Entrepreneurship at an unprecedented rate
  • Forty percent of American businesses are now owned by women (NAWBO)
  • There are still institutional barriers to successful business operation for women, but by understanding why women fall in love with entrepreneurship, organizations can better support women entrepreneurs
  • There are six reasons women go into Entrepreneurship:
  1. Independence – “they are able to craft their own messages, build their own businesses, and create the vision that they see for themselves.”
  2. Family – “women may choose to run their own business rather than leaving the workforce entirely. Entrepreneurship may give them the ability to pursue a fulfilling career as they are a caregiver for their family.”
  3. Drive – “Starting their own businesses may give them the opportunities to pursue as high a career path as they can manage.”
  4. Pride – “Building something from the ground up can be an incredible source of pride.”
  5. Passion – “When women are passionate about something and can seek success in its creation and completion, the satisfaction can be astounding.”
  6. Freedom – “Women who go into business for themselves often find that they are more free than they have ever been within the corporate structure.” 

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A Solopreneur's Guide to Content Curation

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What Is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of finding and providing 3rd party content that is relevant to your buyer persona or audience. You, the curator, find the best and most trusted content from sources on the Internet and then share it with your followers on social media platforms or via email marketing. 

Why Is Content Curation Important to a Solopreneur? 

 First, as a Solopreneur (Coach, Consultant, or Freelancer), you don’t have a marketing department full of content creators. You ARE the marketing department. To have a well-rounded Content Strategy, you need to use Content Curation. Curating content reduces your workload. You can provide value to your audience without spending hours generating 100s of blogs. 

Second, content curation helps build your Personal Brand. As a content curator, you become the filter and expert resource on specific topics or themes that add value to your prospects and customers. You find content, read the content, and write a few short insights on why it’s relevant to your followers. Then share it with them. By providing small and relevant insights on the curated content, you can build brand authority over time. 

Third, you learn! By curating and reading the content, you stay abreast of all the trends, topics, tools, and news within your area(s) of expertise. It’s a win/win scenario. You learn, and your audience learns. 

Fourth, it breaks up your sell, sell, sell strategy. People are tired of getting slammed by sales pitches all day. If you over-promote, your audience will unfollow you, ignore your emails, and stop visiting your site. 

Where Can You Share Curated Content?  

Content Round-Up Blog Posts – Pick a theme relevant to your audience. Let’s use “Email Marketing.” Now, find five good, but different articles on Email Marketing. Read each article. Write a short paragraph summarizing the article with your twist on the key insights. Hyperlink the articles and provide the correct attributions. Boom, now you have a value-add blog post that you can share with your audience on social media as well.  

Weekly Email Newsletter – Just like the Round-Up Blog Post, first find relevant content. Then, organize the content within your newsletter. Next, provide context or your insights. Last, send it off to your email list. You can include curated content alongside your content. Or, you can send this as a separate Content Round-Up email. The option you choose is up to you.

(Note: Your “theme” doesn’t have to be as narrow as “Email Marketing.” Just make sure to organize the curated content around a topic and not a random slathering of unrelated articles.) 

Social Media – Of course, you’re going to share curated content on your social media platforms. Social Media is the obvious one! As you curate the content, share it with your social media followers. Don’t forget to add your insights as well. One more thing, highly consider tagging the author or company in your post.

What Tools Can Help Me Curate Content? 

  • Pocket:Install Pocket’s browser extension and app for easy curation. As you read an article, save and tag (categorize) it for future sharing.. 
  • Twitter Lists: Twitter can be horrendous. Create Twitter Lists to organize the accounts that you follow. By using Twitter lists, you can save or retweet great content provided by those you follow.
  • Scoop.it:Select a topic and Scoop.it not only generates the most relevant articles to view and share, but also includes complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow
  • Feedly: Use Feedly's free option to aggregate news and articles to share with your audience on social media or email.
  • ContentGems: ContentGems scans hundreds of thousands of articles from the best online sources and presents a stream of relevant content

Now that you have the basics of content curation down, get out there and start sharing awesome content! 

If you're new to Solopreneurship, I recently wrote an Introductory Guide to Service Based Solopreneurship. It’s free and 100+ pages packed with content on starting and marketing your business. DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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Solopreneurs: When Starting Your Business Define Your Skills, Not Experience

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When starting your business, one of the first things you need to do is take an inventory of your skills. Your skills are not your work “experience” as written on your resume. A skill is “the ability to do something well; expertise.” You need to identify two sets of skills -

  1. Skills you have to run your business
  2. Skills you have that you could sell to a client 

Take some time. List ALL of your skills out. Don’t forget to consider skills outside of your traditional work experience. Maybe, you’re really good at organization and project management. But, neither one of those skills were a part of a job title or highlighted on your resume. Both are very sellable KSAs. Both will come in handy when running your business. 

Once you develop a good list, identify any immediate gaps. As a personal example, I considered Accounting a skill gap. Not because I don’t know how to do it. I really hate it! So, I immediately filled that gap via software. 

Let me give you another example from my own experience. When I started, I had years of experience in marketing. However, my “experience” is in Marketing Strategy. At that point, I had a skill gap in the Design and Execution of a Facebook Ad Campaigns. Over the past two years, I’ve learned how to design and execute Facebook Ad campaigns.

Follow this exercise to get started: 

  1. What skills do you have that will be useful to running your business?
  2. What skill gaps do I have for running my business? How can I overcome these gaps? (Training, Technology, Hiring a Contractor)
  3. What skills can I sell as a service? 
  4. What skill gaps do I need to fill to increase my service offering? 

This is a short excerpt from an Introductory Guide to Service Based Solopreneurship. It’s free and 100+ pages packed with content on starting and marketing your business. DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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How do we create positive energy from feelings? Feelings are not facts. (Video)

Facts vs. Feelings. Thanks to David D. Burns for this one. Negative thoughts are feelings that build into a snowball effect. Every negative thought compounds upon another. But, feelings are not facts. They are emotions. Humans sometimes believe that our emotions are a self-evident truth that your feelings are beyond question. You know the quote, “trust your feelings?”

What happens if the thoughts feeding those feelings are irrational? What if you based your feelings on a misconception or prejudice? Then always trusting your feelings wouldn’t help you in the long run. Always question yourself. Do your feelings or emotions accurately reflect reality?

Emotions are almost the last thing we should trust. Your feelings and emotions are not facts. How we react to feelings and emotions can determine our success. You have a choice to respond positively or negatively.

You have the opportunity to take a mental step back, find the facts, and determine how to react. If you chose to allow negative feelings to overcome your thoughts, you lose. If you reframe, learn, and grow from the source of negativity, you succeed.

Everyone experiences negative feelings and emotions. It’s up to you to use them to create or destroy energy and enthusiasm for what comes next.

Thanks for watching and see you next week. As always, if you have any success tips, feel free to connect, comment, and share!

Are you ready to live an empowered and purposeful life as a Solopreneur? Yes! Is it wrong to want more, to find abundance, and to be fulfilled? No!

Click here: Download This Introductory Guide To Service Based Solopreneurship

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What is Entrepreneurship Coaching?

What is Entrepreneurship Coaching?

What is Entrepreneurship Coaching? 

Do you have dreams and goals, but feel something is missing between where you are now, and where you want to be? You have that feeling you’re destined for success, freedom, and want to create a more significant impact for your family or on the world? There's a way you can do this. Start your own business. Take control of your life. It's time to hire a Entrepreneurship Coach.

So, what exactly is Entrepreneurship Coaching? Entrepreneurship Coaching is an ongoing, confidential, one-on-one partnership between the coach and client.  Through the coaching process, inquiry, goal setting, and motivational techniques, the Entrepreneurship Coaching supports the client in assuming full accountability for creating a fulfilled personal and professional life through starting a business. Clients are enlightened and empowered with the freedom of choice.

A few other ways Entrepreneurship Coaches help clients:

  • Transitioning from a Corporate Career to Self-Employment
  • Developing a definition of success aligned with the client's values
  • Identifying and removing roadblocks to establish new rules to maximize the client's life's potential
  • Aiding the client in developing a personal development plan 
  • Helping the client set and achieve goals
  • Holding the client accountable for their actions and results 
  • Raising the client's energy level to do more in a shorter period of time
  • Improving the client's focus on the most valuable steps in achieving their definition of success 
  • Supporting the client in attaining the life that they desire, but have yet to experience

Are you ready to live empowered and purposeful? Are you ready to create new rules? Are you ready to start your journey to entrepreneurship?  

Click here to contact me. You're in charge, and there's no pressure or obligation. Let's set up 30-minute discovery call to discuss your situation and goals. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. 

- Stewart Swayze 

Is it wrong to want more, to find abundance, and to be fulfilled? No!

Click here: Download This Introductory Guide To Service Based Solopreneurship

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What if I said your "Positive Thinking" strategy was totally wrong? (Video)

We all know positive thinking helps you reach your goals. But, what if I told you that part of this could be wrong?

Let’s take a moment. Close your eyes and think about an obstacle you are trying to overcome. Now, use positive thinking to visualize overcoming that obstacle. Open your eyes and answer this question. Has anything changed? Nope, we just created a “positive fantasy.” That’s the risk. Nothing changed

Too many people use the power of positive thinking, which might be a good start, but the never plan or take action.

Gabriele Oettingen in “Rethinking Positive Thinking” suggests using a method of mental contrasting, the process of associating obstacles with the behaviors needed to overcome them.

So how do we actually do this? Her suggestion is the WOOP method.

  • Wish –Visualize a wish or concern and hold it in place
  • Outcome – Envision the positive result you want to occur
  • Obstacle – Identify any obstacles that could potentially stop you from reaching the outcome
  • Plan – Determine actions you can take if, when, and where those obstacles occur

Last but not least, write your plan down. Translate your positive thinking fantasy into actionable steps.

Are you ready to live an empowered and purposeful life as a Solopreneur? Yes! Is it wrong to want more, to find abundance, and to be fulfilled? No!

Click here: Download This Introductory Guide To Service Based Solopreneurship

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You'll find discomfort on your path to success. That's good. Here's Why! (Video)

You’ll find discomfort on your path to success. That’s good! Here’s Why.

If you’re on the path to success, you’ll encounter new opportunities to grow. These new opportunities require change and learning something new.

Most people experience discomfort during change. That’s a good sign! Lean into that discomfort. It’s telling you that you are growing, learning, and moving down the path to success.

Don’t fight the discomfort, embrace it. Learn from the change, give yourself permission to succeed or fail. Then look back at that change, look back at the success or failure. Gather insights and learn.

Apply those insights to grow faster, stronger, and start taking massive action.

Soon, instead of dreading the discomfort, you’ll welcome it. Your mind, body, and soul will long for the discomfort of growth.

Are you ready to live an empowered and purposeful life as a Solopreneur? Yes! Is it wrong to want more, to find abundance, and to be fulfilled? No!

Click here: Download This Introductory Guide To Service Based Solopreneurship

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How Do You Reach The Highest Level Of Success? (Video)

Now, this video poses a question more than it provides answers or advice. But, this could be the most important question YOU’LL answer in your life!

It doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what job you do … if you want reach the highest level of success, it’s rather simple… You have to be the best at what you do.

I’m sure you’re thinking, whan whan. Thanks for the tip Captain obvious! … keep watching.

We can actually quantify what the “best” means. Think about it this way … the most popular musicians, the most influential experts, the greatest scientists, the most successful entrepreneurs … all of them … they are in, at least, the top 10% of their respective fields.

So, if you want to reach the highest level of success, you must be determined …committed … and competent enough to reach the top 10%.

So here’s the question: What one skill will YOU commit to developing that would have the greatest impact on YOUR Success? Think about that for a while. Then, make a plan. Commit time each and every day to develop that skill. Go get that top 10%. It may take time, but constantly commit yourself to achieving excellence. 

Are you ready to live an empowered and purposeful life as a Solopreneur? Yes! Is it wrong to want more, to find abundance, and to be fulfilled? No!

Click here: Download This Introductory Guide To Service Based Solopreneurship

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A Lesson on Tolerance & Working Together from Napoleon Hill

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A Lesson on Tolerance & Working Together from Napoleon Hill

I enjoy reading non-fiction and especially classics. Should we be surprised that an impactful lesson from around 1925 - 1928 is still relevant and highly applicable in today's society? No. The book, "The Law of Success" written by Napoleon Hill is full of tried-and-true lessons, and I'm only on page 79! 

While reading last night I came across a particular story that stood out to me. The lesson from this story should be adapted and taught at every level of school or university ... written on the walls of every corporation and echoed through the halls of our government establishments. It should be weaved throughout the speeches of all leaders within our communities. I'm not making a political statement. I'm not pointing the finger at the right or left, at the corporations, Hollywood, or anything/anyone else. In fact, it is an observation and lesson that can be seen and learned across all of these institutions and their respective constituents. We need to look in the mirror. We need to reflect on how we can change as an individual first. Then, how to help support others to improve and spread tolerance across our communities. Right now in the US, the world, our communities, and within corporations, we are suffering from two major problems:

1) Intolerance - an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own 

2) A Lack of Willingness to Work Together - Not setting aside our differences due to intolerance, the lust for undisputed power, success, or any other illogical reason to come together for the good of all

Note: According to Mr. Hill, we can define Power as "organized energy and effort." Success is the "development of the power with which to get whatever one wants in life without interfering with the rights of others." 

So by now, you might be wondering about the story that inspired this message. It's a simple story of a father that had seven children that were always quarreling. The father wanted to demonstrate the impact of their lack of co-operative effort and intolerance. So, this father prepared a bundle of seven sticks and carefully tied them together. One by one he asked each child to attempt to take the bundle and break it. Each child was unsuccessful. The strength and power of the bundle was no match for the individual. Then, the father cut the strings and handed one of the sticks to each of his children. Again, he asked each child to try and break their stick. All sticks were broken. 

At this point, the father said, "When you boys work together in a spirit of harmony you resemble the bundle of sticks, and no one can defeat you, but when you quarrel among yourselves anyone can defeat you one at a time." 

To gain power and to reach a successful end (as defined in the note above) we must work together in harmony and be tolerant of others. 

It doesn't matter who you are, where you work, your political affiliation, or anything like that. Intolerance and the lack of a willingness to work together is hurting our communities and corporations. We are all different. We may have different beliefs. But, we are all seeking the same goal: To leave this world as a better place for generations to come. 

Some of you have already made snap judgements about this article. You might be thinking, "Hey, it's not my fault, it's their fault!" All I'm asking is for you to stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. This time, instead of immediately pointing fingers, take some time to start reflecting. Accept some of the responsibility. Conduct an internal inventory. Change yourself first. Learn to listen. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to work together with people you don't agree with. Lead the change. You set the example and spread the word. Show up each and every moment ready and willing to listen, to show tolerance, to be humble, and to work together. It may be a complicated and tough road ahead ... I know this. But, believe me, if we all work together, just like the bundle of sticks, there is a win / win solution. Success is inevitable when working together in harmony without interfering with the rights of others. 

 

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6 Quirky Entrepreneurial "Lessons Learned" from Trail Running

Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned

6 Quirky Entrepreneurial "Lessons Learned" from Trail Running

Recently, I started trail running on the weekends. Let’s say, it’s currently more of a run, walk, run walk. And, that’s OK. It will take a little time to master the trails. This Sunday, I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned from my first few weekends on the trails. Ironically, those lessons applied to entrepreneurship as well.

Let me share my lessons with you. If you agree or disagree, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.

1. Pick up your feet and keep moving forward

Trail running is challenging. Sometimes we find ourselves tripping over bumps in the road. We jump from one rock to another, trying not to slip … stubbing our toe on a rock, root, or anything else in our path. All the while, a little thought lingers in the back of your mind … when will it happen? When will I finally fall flat on my face?

You know what? The more you do it, the better you get. Your skills increase. Recognize that most stumbles are caused by dragging your feet. Pick up your feet! You’ll get faster, stronger, and more confident. Keep going and push those little thoughts aside. If you fall, get back up and keep moving forward. Sure, you’ll have some bumps, bruises, and scrapes ... but that won’t stop you.

In entrepreneurship, pick up your feet and keep moving forward. Learn from your stumble, bruise, scrape. Gain skills and agility. Get out there and do it! You got this!

2. Have the right equipment

When I first decided to run trails, I put on my street running shoes and headed to the park. I mean, there’s not that much of a difference between running on streets vs. trails … right? Let me tell you, for the trails I run, there’s a huge difference! However, starting out with street running shoes helped me. You could say they were the Minimum Viable Equipment to my trail running venture. Through trial and ERROR, I learned what needed in a trail running shoe.

Traill and error brought me to my current trail running shoes. I love them. But, I’m glad I jumped onto the trails, pushed forward, and learned from my experience. Now, my trail running shoes have the right amount of comfort, traction, support, and protection.

In entrepreneurship, the most critical step is to get out there and go fast. Learn from trial and error. Then, find the right equipment to support your business.

3. The path less taken provides the greatest learning

If you want to play it safe, stick to the well-beaten path. The safe path could be the most appropriate route for you at that time. The path you choose depends on a few things:

  • How you’re feeling?
  • Your level of preparation?
  • How hard do you want to push yourself?

Once you’ve answered those questions, decide on which path to take. When starting out, there is nothing wrong with taking the main trail. It provides you the opportunity to test your new (ad)venture. You can take the time to learn a few things but remain more on the safe side. As you run, take note of the trails peeling off into the wilderness. Where do they go? What is the landscape? Who's traveling along those paths? Do they meet back up with the main trail?

Once you’ve gained some insight and learned from the main trail, find a time to jump off that path. Go rogue! Take a path less taken. Explore! Say WTF and go for it! I guarantee the speed and depth of learning from this (ad)venture will pay off 10-fold! You’ll experience new things at a very rapid pace. Your senses will heighten. You’ll adjust, adapt, and dig deeper than ever before. When you reach the end, you're worn out, but exhilarated! You’ll crave taking on more (ad)ventures … more rogue paths.

In entrepreneurship, don’t be afraid to choose the rogue path. Take a little time to prepare, but say WTF and go for it!

4. There’s beauty in disconnecting

Disconnect the moment you step into the woods and hit those trails. Your mind clears and focuses on nature. You smile when you see animals interacting in the wilderness. Or, laugh when you stumble. You might even say hello to a new face, fellow hiker, runner, and their cute puppy.

Trail running allows you to disconnect from technology. Sure, we bring some tunes, fitness trackers, or other technology like that, but it’s not the everyday grind. We unplug from our computers, emails, TVs, crazy politics, and all other junk. On the trails, we are enjoying the moment. We disconnect and decompress.

Last Sunday I came across a squirrel. The silly little guy was right on the path with his/her head buried in a pile of leaves foraging for food. When I ran within a foot from this guy, he looked up at me. Dude didn't even care I was there. He went right back to the leaf pile. I couldn’t help but laugh. A simple interaction with a silly squirrel, yet I enjoyed every moment of sharing the path with this little guy.

In entrepreneurship, always find time to disconnect. It’s a whirlwind of adventure filled with stress, ups, downs, and all around. Disconnecting allows you to clear your mind and decompress.

5. Be aware of what’s around you

I run trails 15 minutes from my house. Turkey Mountain is a beautiful urban wilderness area. On the weekends, it’s packed! The remarkable part of this park ... it’s open to all kinds of people, animals, and ways to enjoy the park. 

When you’re trail running, you must be aware of what’s around you. Sometimes a mountain biker will sneak up from behind. If you aren’t mindful and they aren’t kind enough to inform you ... this could be trouble. Most of the time people give you a heads up ... Most of the time. Luckily, I haven’t had any incidents other than a few close calls. Sure, we are all out there to enjoy the trails. But, you could call them "trail competition.” The paths have limited space and resources. We are all competing for the same area and resources. You must be aware, adapt, and adjust at a moment’s notice. Don’t get run over!

In entrepreneurship, be aware of what’s around you. Don’t chase the next shiny object, but don’t get run over either. Be ready to adapt and adjust your path to continue your path forward.

6. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Yogi Berra had it right, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” When I’m out testing the “rouge” trails, sometimes I have no clue which way to go. Which way takes me home? Which way leads me off to never-never land? I’ve experienced both outcomes. Two Saturday’s ago, I planned a quick 30-minute run. When I came to a fork in the road, I went for it. My “quick run” ended up taking 1.5 hrs. But, you know what? It was awesome! I found an area of the park I didn’t even know existed. The landscape changed. I captured a few funny moments on Snapchat and Instagram. I learned my current strength and limits. Plus, I went back to that trail the next weekend. (YouTube)

On the trail, you can find many different paths. Sometimes you don’t know which one to take. My advice, take "that" one and go for it!

In entrepreneurship, sometimes you won’t know which path to pursue. Don’t get to analysis paralysis. Follow Yogi’s advice, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Learn, have fun, and keep going.

[PSA / Safety Moment: My Urban Wilderness Area isn't crazy large. A short walk in any direction brings me to civilization. Please know your situation. Don’t go rogue when it’s not safe.]

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and can apply these lessons to your journey. If it helped you, please share with your friends, colleagues, and families.

- Stewart Swayze

Follow me on Instagram / Snapchat: stewart.swayze  

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How is marketing strategy related to business strategy?

How business strategy relates to marketing strategy

How is marketing strategy related to business strategy? 

I originally answered this question on Quora, but wanted to share it with my audience as well. It's a quick explanation. 

To keep the answer as simple as possible, your marketing strategy is a piece of your overall business strategy. The actual steps would depend a lot on your company size & structure. However, the steps below provide an example you can use and adapt to your situation.

  1. Company X develops Goals & Objectives for the next 3–5 years (G&Os)
    1. What do we want to achieve for the next 3-5 years? Where can we improve or grow?
  2. Company X plans how to achieve those goals (Business Strategy)
    1. This is your overall plan and strategy from a corporate perspective
  3. Company X divides the overall business strategy into specific functions, cross-functional teams, or business units.
    1. This is your plan from a functional / cross-functional perspective
    2. Sales, Marketing, Branding, IT, Human Resources, Product Management, R&D, etc.
  4. Company X executes the strategy, tacks progress, and adapts to “feedback” & data.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.

Stewart 

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