Starting and running a business is hard work. If you are already running your own business you probably have experience of the challenges that entrepreneurs face. When I left the practice at which I was the lead GP partner, I was full of excitement at what the future held for me. Yes, there was a bit of apprehension as I was not exactly sure what I was going to do after I left, but the possibilities were many and the mere fact that I would have more time for family and have the flexibility to do what I wanted when I wanted filled me with anticipation. A year later I finished my Executive Coach training and decided to start my own Coaching practice. How exciting!

I was doing something I loved doing, something I knew could change lives. I had flexibility in my life and could at last begin to do some of the things I had dreamed of but never had the time to do. It wasn’t very long before I hit my first wall. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, challenges are a certainty. Only the prepared will navigate those challenges and come out triumphant. In 2012 more than 420,000 new businesses came into existence in the UK. Apparently being a UK start-up is a risky business with 1 in 3 businesses failing within the first 3 years. 20% of businesses fail within the first year, and in the next 3 years 50% of those fail (The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)). The statistics are very discouraging but you can be one of the minority that succeed. Here is what I have learnt so far in my journey.

1.Ask yourself the big question “WHY?” You must have a strong reason for doing what you are doing. Why did you start this business? Even if you are still thinking about starting your own business the question is still valid. Your reason could be similar to mine, “work flexibly while providing a service that you believe in”. It could be because you want to make more money or you hate your current job. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that it is a strong enough reason to keep you going when nothing seems to be working.
It is also helpful to write your big WHY down somewhere that you have instant access to; somewhere you will see it often. If you are not sure what your why was or if it has changed, take time to think about it and come up with a compelling answer.

2.Secondly, have a goal for your business. This is usually a big picture goal that you then break down into daily or monthly targets. “Goal setting is the strongest force for human motivation,” says Dan Clark. “Set a goal and make it come true.” Don’t just have this goal in your head. Write it down. A study that was carried out at the Dominican University, California showed that people who wrote down their goals were more likely to accomplish them than people who didn’t. Your goal is a picture of where you want to go, what you want to be. Paint yourself a compelling picture of your destination and look at it often.

3.Thirdly, keep your eye on the prize, the goal. When challenges come it is easy to get discouraged and find that any motivation you had initially is down in your boots. At times like this the only voice you seem to hear in your head is one that reminds you of failure. I’ve been there – several times. I know what it’s like. The bitter taste of disappointment lingers long after the event. However, 99% of the time motivation is lost because you didn’t keep your eyes on the prize. You focused on where you were instead of on where you were headed.
Consider the determined athlete, as he or she kneels at the start line, preparing to run the race of a lifetime. His or her eyes are fixed, not on the starting line where their foot rests as the race is about to begin, but on the finish line, for that is their goal, the destination, the prize. What is this prize? It is the benefit or reward that your goal will bring you; the change in your life that will happen once this thing becomes reality – the improved health, better relationships, increased enjoyment – whatever it is that you are looking to achieve. When the challenges come, remind yourself of the prize.

4.Fourthly, surround yourself with a strong support network. You want people who will remain positive but at the same time who will have the courage to challenge you and hold you accountable. The same Dominican university study showed that sharing your goal with someone and reporting your progress to this person increased your chances of accomplishing your goals. The support could be in the form of a significant other, a mastermind or coaching group, or a business mentor. Be open with them about your struggles and with their help, find ways of moving forward.

5.Finally develop an “I will not quit mentality”. Most successful entrepreneurs have experienced failure at some stage in their business. They succeeded because they refused to give up. Perseverance and tenacity, more than ability, are traits of successful business people. You may not have been born with it, but you can develop it. When you hit a wall, stop, rethink and go again. Remember this quote by Mary Pickford: “you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

To your success,