You finally decided to make the leap.
The exhilarating, yet terrifying leap to follow your dream and work for yourself.
I can totally understand why. There’s the freedom. The endless earning potential. The opportunity to make life better for those you serve.
There’s a ton of great reasons to build your dream business. And believe me, the people who have the problem your business solves, need you to do it.
All you have to do is start, everything will fall into place, and you’ll live happily ever after, right?
Well, not so much. I want to be completely honest with you.
Starting a business is no cakewalk. It’s hard. But you can totally do it.
But first, you have to embrace the right mindset.
The essential ingredient for business success
In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, lead character Andy Dufresne is serving a life sentence in prison. A jury found him guilty of killing his wife and her lover.
Andy maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. He finally obtained his freedom nineteen years later, after crawling through a sewer line five hundred yards long. That’s five football fields worth of poo. Yuck.
But to Andy, it was totally worth it. It was worth it to crawl through that muck.
That stinky, disgusting, bacteria infested trek through that sewer line was the only thing standing between him and living life as a free man.
So rather than live the rest of his life as a prisoner, he crawled through the poo to claim a better life.
Now here’s the million dollar question: Would you crawl through 500 yards of poo to get to your dream business?
I’m not saying you’re gonna have to go through the extremes Andy Dufresne did. But building a thriving business will require a lot from you.
It requires you to be hungry enough to relentlessly pursue your goal, no matter what you have to go through to get there.
Why a lack of hunger will doom your business
Hunger is a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. That’s the formal definition. It’s also described as a strong desire or craving.
This need to satisfy our physical hunger for food is something we’ve been doing since birth. As a baby, when you were hungry, you cried until someone fed you.
Even today, when hunger pangs hit me, I have a one track mind until my stomach gets fed.
But hunger isn’t just about food. The effects of hunger are present in all aspects of life.
Hunger makes you do crazy things. It’s what makes you quit a “stable, good paying job” to build your own business. It’s what makes you stay up all night talking to the one you love, even when you have to get up early the next day. It’s what fuels you to forego that piece of cake, in favor of an apple when trying to get your body beach ready.
Without feelings of discomfort or weakness, or a strong desire to change your current circumstances, then there is no rational reason to alter your behavior.
That’s why hunger is essential. Especially when it comes to doing the work involved with building your dream business.
Tony Robbins describes the critical need for hunger this way:
The single most important element of any human being that separates their level of success from the rest of the world, it’s hunger.
You show me somebody who’s not only hungry but doesn’t lose their hunger, they will dominate everything.
You lose your hunger, you get comfortable and go into a slump.
The concept of of hunger being essential to a pursuit has been around for thousands of years. Here’s what the Bible says about it:
“The appetite of the laborer works for him, for [the need of] his mouth urges him on.” Proverbs 16:26 (Amplified)
Bottom line, hunger is your fuel.
It’s what will keep you from giving up. It’s what will put you on a relentless pursuit of your dream. It’s what will get you to crawl through any poo that stands between you and your goal.
Without it, it’s too easy to get complacent. Too easy to retreat to your comfort zone when things get hard. Too easy to accept a less than fortunate situation as “just the way it is.”
Simply put, without hunger, your business is doomed.
How to get hungry
You need a prize worth fighting for.
There’s no need to subject yourself to all the sweat, tears, and unglamorous work required to make your dream your reality, if the prize at the end of the journey isn’t worth it.
The prize you’re after has to drive you. For Andy DuFresne, it was living life as a free man. Living the rest of his life in prison wasn’t an option.
What’s your prize? What are you hungry for?
Once you’ve got a significant enough prize, you also need some pain.
You’ve got to have enough discomfort with your current situation, that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to change it.
You’ve got to have a desire so strong that the thought of not getting what you crave is almost unbearable.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
The discomfort will move you into action. The pain will make the status quo unacceptable to you.
So think about what will happen if you don’t make your business work. Think about what life will be like one, three, or five years from now if you don’t pursue your dream. Get a vivid image of what that will be in your mind. Write it down, if that will help.
Then compare that reality to what life would be like when you do claim your prize. How would your life be different? What will change in the lives of those you serve?
If after going through this exercise, you know that your soul will not rest until you make your dream business your reality, congratulations. Your mind is in the right place.
You’re hungry. You can’t stop, won’t stop.
And you’re ready to begin your quest to satisfy your hunger to make your business dreams come true.
How to channel your hunger into success
Alright. So you’re hungry. You’re ready to go out and do whatever you have to do to make your business thrive. You’re ready to put the work in.
And that’s exactly what you should do. But building a successful business, is not a function of how hard you work. There are way too many business owners who work super hard, with limited results.
You need to channel your hunger and work ethic to the right things. It will get you where you want to go faster. And it will prevent you from taking many detours on your path to success.
It’s not just about working hard, it’s also about working on the right things. You have a limited amount of force and where you apply it matters. – James Clear
Here are 6 ways to channel your hunger to make your journey to success go much more smoothly.
1. Get a cookbook
Investing in yourself is critical. You’ve got to learn how to become better each day. Even when you don’t want to. Even when you’re already pretty darn good at what you do.
But it’s not just about learning how to be a rockstar at your craft. You’ve got to learn the business of your business. You’ve got to learn the strategies, tools, and techniques you need to apply to help you reach your goal.
That means you need to study who’s been successful and why. Study what hasn’t worked, and why. Study the techniques that are out there to help you meet your objectives.
Then find out which of those techniques work best for you. And then study the right way to use those techniques.
Invest in yourself.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming your current skills and knowledge are enough to get by. Sure, you have to start somewhere, but it is critical to keep learning so you can grow.
When I first started blogging, I sucked. I didn’t know what I was doing.
I naiively thought that because I was pretty good at writing throughout college and in my corporate job, blogging would be no problemo.
I was wrong.
Want a little proof? Here’s a cringe-worthy post I wrote on one of my first blogs back in 2011:
Running the Business of Your Business
Know your business. The industry you are in. The way it works. Your customers. Your suppliers. Your competitors. They way they work. What makes you different. Why your business does or does not work. Know the business you are in. That’s how you will be able to stay in the business you are in.
That’s it. All 54 words of it. It’s no surprise the results of that post were pretty dismal.
Eventually, I realized I needed to learn the proper way to blog. I studied (and still study) how to craft a story, how to communicate an idea, and how to capture and maintain the interest of readers.
As a result, I learned how to write better posts. Posts that do a better job of helping you build your dream business. Like this one, published on a blog with a large following around the world.
There’s many ways for you to stay a constant student. Maybe that comes in the form of devouring blogs, attending webinars, or watching videos. Hiring a coach, buying courses, going to conferences, or chowing down on books are great ways to learn as well.
How will you learn to get better at building your business?
2. Decide on a menu
Let’s say you decide you’re going to go on a trip to Alaska. How will you get there? Will you start walking? Will you book a flight? Or a cruise? A train maybe?
Once you decide you’re going to go to Alaska, you have to create a plan for how you will get there. A plan that will take you from where you are, to where you want to go.
And then you’ve got to work your plan.
The same principle holds true for your business. You’ve got to have a plan for how you’re going to make it work.
Andy DuFresne had a pretty elaborate plan for escaping from prison. He didn’t just wake up one morning, decide he was ready to blow the joint, and then try make a run for it.
No, he studied his surroundings, and eventually found an optimal approach to break free.
Over the years, he worked his plan. Diligently. And when opportunity presented itself, he executed the final stages of his strategy, and ended up exactly where he wanted to be: outside the prison walls.
You should do the same thing.
What’s your strategy for how to make your business a success?
3. Make dinner every night
Learning is necessary. But all your learning won’t get you far if you don’t apply what you learn. You’ve got to practice. And you’ve got to practice often.
Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.” – Jim Rohn
Practice is how you get better. And when you practice the fundamentals to the point of mastery, your results will grow exponentially.
Practice prepares you for success. It enables you to crush it when you do hit the big stage.
The need for practice to prepare you for success is backed by lots of research. Perhaps most notably, the findings of Malcolm Gladwell really hammer home the point. In his best-selling book Outliers, he described the role of preparation this way:
Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this viewpoint is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.”
He went on further to write:
The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”
That’s why writers write every day. Dancers, dance every day. Programmers, program every day.
The more you do it, the better you get.
Basketball player Ray Allen proves that practice, and diligent preparation makes success inevitable. Allen is one of the most accurate 3-point and free throw shooters in NBA history. He holds the record for 3-point shots made and attempted in regular season play. And all those accolades are the result of practice.
Throughout his career, Ray Allen has shown up hours before the other players arrive for each game. He does this so he can go through his pre-game shooting routine which demands 150 shots made before he leaves the court.
What disciplines do you need to practice every day to prepare you for success?
4. Scrub the kitchen
Often, when people think of building a successful business, their minds focus on all the glamorous rewards that come along with it.
But the reality is, to reap the many benefits that come with building a business, there are lots of unsexy things you need to do behind the scenes.
And if you don’t do those less than desirable activities, your business will suffer.
For many small business owners, these loathed tasks often include promotion, networking, and keeping detailed records.
It’s kind of like cleaning your house. Kitchens, bathrooms, and floors need to be cleaned on a regular basis. And when it comes to keeping them clean, you have three choices:
A.) Ignore the growing mess. However, the dirt will just continue to build up. B.) Hire someone to clean your house for you. Or C.) Clean your house yourself.
The same goes with your business.
Ignoring an important task or activity because you don’t want to do it, is an option, but it will result in a hot mess. Hiring someone else to do a necessary activity is a great solution. If you can’t afford to hire someone, then you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
[Note: Too often well-meaning business owners spend time doing necessary work they don’t enjoy, but they do a half-baked job. That’s almost as bad as ignoring the mess. Have you ever eaten a half-baked cupcake? No bueno. So if you decide you’re going to do the work, do the work. Go all the way by investing the time and energy required to get it done right.]
It’s understandable why you’d rather spend your time doing the things you most enjoy. But building your dream business has a lot of moving parts. And to get your business to operate like a well-oiled machine, somebody has to get his hands dirty to oil the machine.
What undesirable task do you need to start paying more attention to?
5. Throw your microwave out the window
You’ve heard the stories about the overnight successes. The people who set their intention, hung their shingle out there, and the next week they were multi-millionaires?
Good for them. We won’t hate on them. And if it happens to you, fantabulous. We’ll be there to celebrate with you.
But hoping that some miracle, like Oprah coming to knock on your door to tell your story to the world, is a dangerous path to follow.
The problem with “overnight successes” is that we often don’t see the many years of hard work they put in before all the stars aligned to make their business thrive.
It took James Dyson 5,127 prototypes and fifteen years to create the perfect vacuum. That vacuum launched his company that now earns more than $2 billion.
Dyson describes what went on during those long fifteen years:
There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born. By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727 my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. There were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem. It wasn’t the final prototype that made the struggle worth it. The process bore the fruit. I just kept at it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Superstars weren’t made in a day. And businesses aren’t built in a day. So when your dream business seems to be taking forever and a day to get off the ground, don’t get discouraged. Follow this advice instead:
When it seems like it’s not working, don’t stop, just ask why.” -Danny Iny
Your continued quest to do the work of finding the path that works best for you, may take a while. But it will totally be worth it when you see it through to the end.
What have you learned from projects that are slow to bring the results you’re looking for?
6. Shred your take-out menus
Ditch your plan B. And plan C and D for that matter.
That doesn’t mean skip a transition plan. When building a business, you’re going to need to save lot’s of money. You may need to keep your full-time job, or do some moonlighting to help cover expenses while you build your business.
That’s perfectly fine. Those aren’t plan B’s.
The mindset behind a plan B is, “well if my business doesn’t work, I’ll go do X instead.”
This line of thinking will derail even the best laid intentions. Why? It plants a seed of doubt that infects your psyche and grows like a cancer. That doubt will cause you to hold something back. It will prevent you from giving your business everything you’ve got. And it will prevent you from reaching your goal.
Andy DuFresne had no plan B. He had a one track mind. Freedom. Nothing else would do.
If in your mind, something else will do, then that just means you’re not hungry enough for the prize you’re after.
And as we already discussed, hunger is essential to the success of your business.
Is a plan B subconsciously preventing you from giving your business every chance it needs to succeed?
It’s time to satisfy your hunger
You can do this.
The road won’t be easy, but you’re hunger will fuel you to keep moving forward. It’ll focus you on getting your prize. And it’ll help you dig in and find a higher gear to operate in to overcome any obstacles life throws your way.
When you have that insatiable hunger, it is inevitable that your business will succeed.
Because of your hunger, you can’t be stopped. Won’t be stopped.
So go feed your hunger.
Go make life better.