Business Survival: Are you climbing Everest?

I went to see Everest today. A mid week trip to the cinema with my husband is one of the joys of being self employed, not least because the cinema is nearly always empty.

As the film began I started to think about how small business survival is a bit like climbing Everest. Building your business and making it work is one of the hardest challenges you’ll probably face.

When adventurers started scaling Everest the death rate was one in four. Nowadays about 56% of climbers make it to the top and much fewer die in the process. It’s about the same success rate as small business owners (chance of death is significantly lower!). According to recent statistics the failure rate for small businesses is one in two. Half of all small businesses will fail within a couple of years.

They say once you reach the top quarter of Everest, your body basically starts to die from the lack of oxygen. I imagine many climbers give up and turn back when they are in the ‘death zone’, very close to the point of success. It’s the same in business. There is a Chinese proverb ‘the temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed’. Many people give up because they think what they are doing isn’t working, they become demotivated and convince themselves it’s a lost cause. Those that have become very successful in business often relay stories of when they considered throwing the towel in just a few short weeks or months before they got what they consider to be their breakthrough. Consistency and perseverance are key attributes to achieving success when you are in the survival zone.

Chinese proverb

Let’s face it, it’s difficult to get up every day and do the do when you feel you aren’t making progress. The constant rejection can eat away at your motivation, enthusiasm and confidence. If you constantly feel like you are failing it takes a lot of courage to be able to continue on long enough to get that breakthrough that will spur you on.

If it sounds like I know how this feels, it’s because I do – every time I have launched my own projects or worked with a small business from the very beginning – the process is the same. However, I have come to understand how the journey works now. I know that if I follow a methodical set of steps and I am dilligent about implementing them that I will achieve success. I know this because I have done it multiple times and I have previous evidence that spurs me on.

I see the pain that many small business owners face and I’d like to help with that. At the moment I am creating some video training to help people that are in the survival zone, you can sign up for an update when this is ready.

In the meantime I have some tips for you based on my own experiences and the experiences I have had with other small business owners.

1. Celebrate even the smallest successes

If you are building your email list, set it up so you get an email every time someone joins. Every time you get a new Facebook like, give yourself a pat on the back. Remember every business was built one client at a time. Cherish every client, they are the future of your business.

2. Find a mentor or coach or someone that can help you when you feel like giving up

You are not superhuman. Even Everest climbers work with a buddy or in a team. Find someone or a group of people that can support you.

3. Look to strategies that are highly likely to work

Look at what has worked for others and put a plan together with a daily actionable task, or several if you can manage it. Remember, consistency trumps everything. One action every day is more valuable than a flurry of activity and then nothing.

4. Be methodical

Being methodical is very difficult when you doubt your plan. Find a plan you truly believe will work if you stick to it. If you don’t have that plan, you’re going to find yourself distracted by every trick or tip you see. You need to focus and go in one clear direction if you want to succeed – you don’t need to be zig zagging your way up Everest!

Once you’ve got a plan commit to working through your task list, even when you don’t feel like it and it doesn’t seem to be working. You need to knock on many more doors than you think before someone will open and buy from you. This is where your mentor or coach can support you.

5. Take plenty of breaks

It’s easy to become depressed. Know when to stop, take a break, and do something different for a while. Little and often is the key.

6. Build on even the most minor of successes

If something works even a little bit, do it again. When I was building my very first online income after I had decided I would become self employed almost ten years ago, an online coach I had at the time said this;

If you can make £1 online, then you can make £10, and if you can make £10 then you can make a £100, and if you can make £100 you can make £1000…

He was right, once you’ve learned how to make a £1 or how to fulfil the needs of one client – it’s simply a case of repetition and then refining that repetition.

It may seem that business success is the insurmountable peak. Some days it may feel like you are struggling for breath and wondering whether you can carry on, but with the right support and a solid plan, you’re going to find out for certain!

If you would like an update when the video is ready that goes along with this article, sign up here and I will send it to you as soon as it’s ready.

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