Entrepreneurs’ Common Stumbling Blocks And How To Counteract Them With Inner Mastery
Entrepreneurs are expected to set and pursue audacious goals. And if they succeed in their endeavors, they’re expected to make a dent in the world. Now, when we talk about things like this, it is but natural to assume that the goals in question here are ones that have a tangible impact on the broader society. But what about the entrepreneurs’ inner world? To begin with, what is one’s “inner world” supposed to look and feel like? These and other such fundamental questions don’t normally come up in daily conversations, do they?
As a 3X entrepreneur along with being an advisor to companies and mentor to founders, I’ve had the privilege of working with a pretty wide range of companies and their founders. And in that process, I’ve seen some patterns play out repeatedly—some that are positive, and some that are limiting or even destructive. What’s more is that most of the limiting patterns I’ve observed are a result of avoidable blind spots and lack of inner mastery. In this article, I’ll explore a handful of those.
The Curse of the Opportunity
We live in an age of abundance where opportunities abound everywhere we care to look. Rapid technological progress has lead to an explosion of never-seen-before of possibilities. Multi-billion dollar companies are now being spawned over a span of a couple of years. And it seems like we’re just getting started.
In this landscape, someone—especially in developed but also developing countries—has a plethora of options to pick from at any given point in time. Of course, on account of the broader trends, certain opportunities are more timely than others. So it is not uncommon to see founders pursuing ventures that have a clear opportunity with a tangible and, often, immediate window of opportunity.
The challenge then? Startups are tough business. In recent years, there’s been a surge of frameworks and methodologies to help bring down the risks involved, but still it’s no piece of cake. Invariably, the going gets though. Not just once or twice, but usually several times. And under these circumstances, I’ve seen a couple of different patterns.
If the venture is very early stage, founders tend to abandon, but if right away, in due time. And if the venture is a little further along having raised a sizable capital, for reasons such as loyalty to fellow founders and their commitment to their investors, they tend to keep at it even if they’ve lost the internal drive to keep going. The result either way is less than ideal.
Antidote to the Curse of the Opportunity
What is it that can provide the fuel and energy to the founders to keep going even when faced with immense challenges? Several things, of course. However, one thing that is at the top of the list is greater Alignment.
It is important for every entrepreneur to evaluate their motivations behind pursuing the venture in question. More specifically, besides the more obvious outer motivations (e.g. market opportunity, trends, etc.), the less than obvious inner motivations should be explored. From all the choices available to them:
- Which ones carry more meaning to them as individuals?
- Which ones inherently feel more purposeful?
- And how will the venture allow them to become the kind of person they want to become both consciously as well as subconsciously?
These are big questions, no doubt. However, just like frameworks designed to help you find your product-market fit efficiently, there are methodologies to help you figure these important details out without too much agony. And I’m pleased to say that our workshops cover the depth and breadth of these fundamentals aspects of life pretty comprehensively.
Blindspots & Costly Errors
When you’re inventing something brand new, you’re bound to make mistakes. And when you’re building a company from the ground up, there are going to be some uncharted territories. However, there also are common building blocks that are relatively universal, especially in the context of fundamentals of business modeling, product development methodologies, and so forth. And while there are experienced entrepreneurs and other seasoned professionals who broadcast their hard-learned lessons to anybody willing to listen, entrepreneurs often turn a blind eye to them.
Over the years, I’ve seen a very fascinating pattern play out over and over again. The younger the founder, the lower the likelihood of them listening to my advice. And the older the founder, the higher the likelihood of them paying attention to my suggestions. I’ve even had close friends not listening to me only to come back to me a year later admitting that they had made a big mistake.
That’s just one example of the blind spots founders have. Another big one is not paying attention to the clear signals from their customers or potential customers. A lot of times, founders want to stick to and try out their ideas even in the face of new opposing evidence. Note that this pattern is not always very obvious from the outside. Remember that we humans are exceptional at justifying just about anything. Most often, founders convince themselves and others that they’re tweaking and pivoting their product or approach, but the reality tends to be something else. And sometimes, they’re not evolving fast enough.
Antidote to Blindspots & Costly Errors
How do we get ourselves to be more in tune with the reality rather than be deceived by our own biases and blind spots? The answer is quite simple, and that’s Self Awareness. Here are some themes to explore:
- What do you naturally pay attention to? What do you tune out?
- What do you say yes to even when you have no intention of following through?
- How open are you to possibilities other than the ones you’ve envisioned thus far?
Note that I said the answer is simple and not necessarily the practice. It does take some serious commitment along with the right set of tools and practices to develop Self Awareness. Modern day technology has come to our rescue on this front though. Check out our Mastery app designed to help with this and more.
Lack of Execution & Follow Through
Most entrepreneurs have a plan of action. Not all plans are created equal, and some plans are inherently better than others. The good news, however, is that everyday presents with an opportunity to execute on a piece of the larger plan as well as to learn and adapt. But what if one is not able to stick to any kind of plan? What if one keeps doing the easy or more comfortable things rather than the necessary ones?
Furthermore, as entrepreneurs come in contact with empowering ideas and practices through other entrepreneurs as well as resources like books and seminars, they tend to accumulate an inventory of tools that could help take their game to a whole new level. However, what I’ve seen more of is a gap between theory and practice. While there’s an understanding of a concept, there’s usually a lack of follow through on it. And this leads to a lot of entrepreneurs being stuck with old, unproductive habits and practices. This may not lead to failure, but it certainly prolongs their journey to success.
Antidote to Lack of Execution & Follow Through
What is it that one needs to facilitate better execution and follow through? The answer is Clarity Systems. That’s a term I’ve coined for a system that is itself based on clarity and also, upon its use, leads to greater clarity. Here are some important concerns it should address:
- How do you decide and communicate what’s important/necessary in a given context and what’s not?
- How do you manage the process of change for yourself as well as your team or organization?
- Are systematic learning and growth treated as first class citizens along with tangible top-level goals?
The job of entrepreneurs is far from easy. What makes so challenging is that entrepreneurs are required to drive and lead the processes of change and transformation. The more groundbreaking their venture, the greater the enormity of change and transformation. Having a solid grip of strategic, productivity, communication, and other critical systems is the key. One effective way to do this is seeking help from advisors, mentors, and coaches.