Barbara Corcoran has survived many unforeseen fiascos. After 9/11, her New York-based real estate business came to a screeching halt. For almost three months, none of her agents were able to close a sale. She almost closed up shop.”But here’s what I’ve learned on all these crises through all the …
Having worked with small businesses and start-ups across many industries, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve talked about things like pain tolerance, learning, and failure in this column, but there’s one other factor that is more important than all the rest.
Being aligned with your business.
“Alignment” has morphed into a buzzword that can refer to any number of things, but when I talk about being “aligned with your business” it means enjoying every aspect of what you do. To put it simply, being aligned with your business means you’re excited to work on it. When you’re not aligned, you dread it. You might even hate your business.
And unfortunately, hating your business can happen quicker than you might think. All of a sudden, one facet of your business is doing well and you’re forced to change everything to capitalize on that success. The next thing you know, your business is generating revenue but it’s turned into something entirely different–and you hate it!
Staying aligned with your business from the start
If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur or you’re thinking about starting a business, here’s my advice in six simple words: Think about what you really want.
What do you want your business to look like?
Who do you want to serve?
How much money do you want to make?
How much do you want to work?
What do you want to be doing every day?
If you can get clear on these questions from the very beginning, you can develop your business around those goals instead of just what makes you money. If an easy cash-grab comes along but it’s not in line with your vision, don’t do it!
I became an entrepreneur because I wanted the freedom to work when I want and from wherever I want. I now run a fully-remote company that helps entrepreneurs scale their businesses without the pain of hiring. I am fully-aligned with my business–and trust me, that would not be the case had I simply gone with the easiest revenue generator.
How to readjust when you find yourself out of alignment
For the current entrepreneur who is feeling out of alignment with his or her business, getting “realigned” can be a challenge. In some extreme cases, you may even need to start over or completely rethink your business.
I recently talked with Jill Stanton of Screw the Nine to Five about this, and she has a fascinating story that shows just how extreme these situations can get.
Jill’s business is primarily an affiliate marketing company–she and her husband help unsatisfied employees quit their jobs and start online businesses–but at one point she opened a new area of her business called “Screw U,” a paid membership site that offered education to her audience in the form of coaching calls, webinars, and weekly content. It was generating over $330,000 annually, but she started to hate it because of the constant time commitment. Things got even worse after she had a baby.
So she made the bold decision to completely shut down this part of her business to focus exclusively on affiliate marketing, the one thing she loved.
The result? The affiliate marketing portion of her business ended up producing far more than the membership site had made and she loved every second of it. Through this crisis, she developed a simple exercise that I’d recommend everyone try…
For everything you need to do in your business, ask yourself “Does this feel heavy or light?”
If something feels heavy, that means you secretly don’t want to do it. You dread doing it and you may procrastinate or put it off. You might think that you’re not qualified or that you’re not going to do a good job. Jill likens it to making plans with someone when deep down you know you’re going to cancel. Her membership site felt incredibly heavy to her.
When things feel light, it’s quite the opposite. You feel energized, motivated, and confident. You’re playing to win and you’re committed to making that thing happen. There’s no negative self-talk because you know you’re going to crush it–and you can’t wait to do so.
If you are running this exercise and find a lot of heavy things cropping up, that’s a warning sign. You’re not in alignment with your business and something needs to change. Whether it’s offloading a certain activity you dislike or shutting down an entire part of your business, you’ll always be better off in the end.
Published on: Feb 13, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
A friend recently reminded me of Y2K and the dot-com implosion. It’s hard to believe that was just two decades ago. It made me wonder what the next twenty years will look like.
Predicting the future is always suspect but what fascinates me most are predictions about foundational innovations which have already been technologically proven. What stands in their way are the cultural impediments that block every disruptive innovation. We adamantly hold onto mental models of what’s familiar. I’ve picked these four because as you read through them your gut reaction will be to reject them by thinking, “Oh, sure I know about that prediction,” my questions to you is, what are you doing about it? If it’s just wait and see then what I can tell you, with little to no uncertainty, is that these four disrupters will create incredible opportunity for new businesses smart enough to latch onto them early.
Here are four of those long-term foundational 20-year megatrends that will shape nearly every aspect of global society; if we can just let go of the past.
#1 Within 20 years the overwhelming majority of vehicles will drive themselves.
We already have cars and trucks that can drive themselves under certain well-defined circumstances. Last year Delphi, the Boston-based think tank I lead published an extensive report that looked at the advent of electric and autonomous vehicles, AVs. (Get the full report here). By 2034 the number of automobiles in the U.S. will peak at roughly about 500 million, from about 250 million today. It’s what comes after 2034 that surprises almost everyone who has seen the research; the total number of cars will decline rapidly to less than 50 million by 2050.
That’s because AV’s will drive 20+ hours a day rather than the 2 hour average for owned cars. In fact, cars will likely own themselves through blockchain technology. Cities will reclaim 25 percent of the real estate used for parking today. 1,300,000 lives will be saved each year. Insurance companies will no longer insure human driven automobiles at rates that make it affordable for the vast majority of people.
#2 Within 20 years quantum computers will be as widely used as classical computers.
Quantum computing is progressing at a rate that is surprising even those who are building it. Google engineers recently talked about how they have already reached “quantum supremacy”–the point at which quantum computers can exceed the ability of any classical computer. IBM projects three years at most for that same achievement.
Quantum computers will not replace all classical computers, but they will become an indispensable part of how we use computers and artificial intelligence in our lives. This will be one of the most radical shifts in the history of science, enabling us to take on problems that classical computers are simply unable to deal with. Quantum computers come as close possible to mimicking the biological world, allowing us to simulate everything from cellular organisms, to human biology, to pharmaceuticals, to the inner workings of the universe.
#3 Within 20 years every human being will have an immutable identity.
Half of the 7.5 billion people on the planet today have no documented identity. They are unable to own property, open bank accounts, or obtain formal credit. They are at the mercy of unscrupulous actors who prey on their economic vulnerability. It may seem outlandish to suggest that this is a technology problem, but in large part it is. Blockchain will enable the disenfranchised to enter the economic mainstream, to transact, and, most importantly, to obtain identities. The basis of all free markets, and democratic systems, is the immutability of ownership. Without identity there is no ownership. Making identity immutable is perhaps the single greatest step we can take towards creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to extract value from their efforts and contributions.
#4 Within 20 Years Autonomous Intelligent Healthcare advocates will become essential in navigating increasingly more complex personalized healthcare.
The world’s population is aging rapidly. In 1950 there were 10 toddlers for every 65 year old. Today that ratio is 3:1. By 2100 it will be 1:1. That’s globally, not just the U.S. or the developed world. This will impact every aspect of society but especially healthcare which is also becoming much more personalized in dealing with genomic diagnosis and therapy. The fundamental challenge will be that the coordination of health care, which gets much more complex as we age.
Which is why one of the most significant developments is the evolution of AI-powered health care advocates who can act on our behalf when we are unable to provide the information necessary for the continuity of our healthcare. Imagine that you’re in the emergency room and are unable to communicate your medical history. A health care advocate will have this information available immediately to share with doctors and to coordinate your care seamlessly across providers.
Far fetched? Not from the standpoint of the technology. The challenge will be in rethinking the industrial, social, and economic systems that these innovations will bring about a the pry the past our of our grip.
The good new; twenty years goes by really fast!
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.