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Beverly Flaxington is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA), hypnotherapist, and career and business adviser who helps managers and employees deal with workplace behavioral issues. She’s the author of five business and financial books, including the award-winning book, Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior, and her latest book, Make Your SHIFT: The Five Most Powerful Moves You Can Make to Get Where YOU Want to Go.

My Advice

As a college professor I teach leadership, entrepreneurship and small business management and see students who are interested in running their own businesses someday. I founded my business over 15 years ago after spending time in the corporate arena. Without a mentor to guide me, I made a number of mistakes but fortunately did many things right and have had a flourishing and successful business to show for it. The best advice I give to students that I wish I had learned earlier is to take the time to identify what success really looks like to you. Many entrepreneurs don’t think about the downsides – the long hours, the time away from family, the scary nights wondering where the next customer will come from and the lack of skills you might possess in many critical areas! The idea of running a business – no boss, the chance to do whatever you want to do, the opportunity to show your talents and the freedom – is so appealing but we need to balance these optimistic viewpoints with the reality of what we’ll face every day.

It’s important to take the time initially, and to renew every year, your success scenario. This involves thinking about the following, and then writing it down to create your desired outcome roadmap:

  1. Defining success in both quantitative and qualitative terms: Financial objectives, lifestyle objectives, etc
  2. Defining a clear business model – think about what you really want to be doing – what passion do you have? What do you want your business life to be day-to-day? Be sure to clarify what it looks like so you don’t end up running a business and doing something that you don’t even enjoy.
  3. Creating an “ideal customer” or “ideal client” profile – what type of people/businesses do you want to work with, who are they, what do they care about? This is part of your marketing effort for niche marketing, but it also allows you think more clearly about the type of people you want to spend time serving
  4. What skill sets do you need – what do you have? Success to me means spending most of my time doing what I’m good at, and delegating the rest. What are you good at? What do you like to do? What skills will you need to supplement by outside resources or hires for your firm?
  5. How do you want to be known? What do you want customers/clients to say about you and your business? Think about the words you want people to use.

Start by just visioning this short list and write it down. Paint the picture as clearly as you can about what success looks like to you. This is separate from a business plan. This is about your heart, your mind and what you really care about in life. Running a business can be fun and exhilarating when it works, but there are days you wonder why you chose this path. This process can help bring you back to your focus and keep you on track to get where you really want to go.

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Edited by Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets