One of the most destructive myths about entrepreneurship is the idea that there is some kind of formula or method for building a business.
If there’s one thing I’ve consistently seen in my years of working with entrepreneurs, it’s this: every entrepreneur must travel their own path when it comes to developing their business.
There’s plenty to learn from others, of course, but when it comes down to it, entrepreneurship is like learning a musical instrument.
Read and listen to others all you want. At the end of the day, you learn by playing. And the more you focus on your own playing with care and patience, the more progress you make.
The quicker and deeper entrepreneurs get this, the more they slow down and trust themselves through the ups and downs of the process. And that abiding self-trust is what makes the difference.
Years ago, I spent tthousands of dollars on coaching about how to “scale” my business, for example. The content was great but the coaching was worthless, and actually harmful. Why? Because scaling happens from focusing on customers – not from focusing on scaling.
When your business is ready to scale, you will know it, because you’ll already be doing it. It’s that simple.
Things improved significantly in my business when I stopped caring about how it should look and just showed up and doing the work, every day. I did what was required to serve clients and improve the firm, bit by bit.
And behold, the work built on itself over time and led to consistent growth. Clients loved the attention and stayed with us. New clients joined us.
And that’s how it is. We build something. The world responds. We improve and adapt. We get new ideas and try those out. We build the next thing. As we do this, we develop skills, build relationships, sharpen our vision.
We add team members, and their success too depends on the same focus, that same depth of presence with what’s next to be done.
This is how businesses are built.
Simple. But there’s no formula to it, besides showing up. Hence this well-known graphic:
One quibble: that squiggly line on the right is not so much what it success looks like as what it feels if we expect our path to be a straight line.
We can have the experience on the left. It just means abandoning expectations and attachment to outcomes and doing the work in front of us, as best we can, with diligence, care, presence and attention.
Ultimately, there is no other way to build a business. And that is very good news.