There is so much that a small business owner, or potential entrepreneur, can do with just a shift in how we think, and what we focus on.
When you start to look back at what you have achieved and where you are in your life, work and business, you would begin to realise that success is heavily dependent on your attitude.
Most people who are successful started out just like you – and then they kept their strength and determination, they persevered through the tough times and now we look up to them as successful business people.
The good part is that you can make it too and even achieve much more than them. The magic is upgrading the software your mind has been running on with a new, better and bug-free version!
Here, serial entrepreneur, Taimur Khan, tells ByteStart how a positive mind-set can help you succeed with your start-up;
“The only thing keeping you from getting what you want is the Story that you keep telling yourself about why you can’t have it” Tony Robbins
My career started in films where I won many awards with films at Sundance, on HBO and on Discovery. From there I set up Blueberry Creative – a successful post-production talent management company which I took to exit.
My current business is Skylightit.com, an online business software that helps you manage tasks, projects, time billing and invoicing, all in one application.
Skylight was what I call “an itch that had to be scratched”. I realised that in my other ventures, we spent considerable resources and incurred costs on software that didn’t work for us. So in 2009 I started to research the options. I couldn’t find the right solution, so, in 2010 Skylightit.com was born.
To be frank, this wasn’t an area I knew much about when I started, but I did it – the BBC even featured us on its flagship technology show ‘Click’. And since launching Skylight, I have acquired new skills in software development, product cycle, marketing and taking an idea from nothing to launch.
How did I do it? How do others do it? What sets the successful apart from those still looking for success? It’s all about mind-set. If your mind-set is right you’ll push all obstacles out of your way, you won’t be held back by worrying if you know ‘enough’ – you’ll just ‘scratch that itch’ and get on with it!
Here are 5 tips to help you shift your mind-set in order to launch the business of your dreams, or speed-up the growth of your start-up:
1. Never stop learning
What is the latest industry trend? Is there a way you can use less energy to increase your production? What are your competitors doing?
Learning never ends. Every day something new comes up that you can leverage and use to grow your business, or launch a new. Therefore, it is important that you keep updated with trends and releases and take action with what you have discovered.
For instance, I realised that if I were to run a tech company that helps business run efficiently, I had to work closely with developers and I had to learn to code. So I did.
When we started developing Skylight, I had no idea how to write code, I simply had a vision of what we wanted the software to do. Today I am happy jumping in to fix some CSS, PHP or JS on a project that had millions of lines of code written by rock star developers.
There are many ways you can learn that can improve your business and give you new skills. Today the web is full of specialist content; some simple Googling will reveal a plethora of online articles, eBooks and videos about your industry.
Chambers of Commerce and many networking groups offer workshops, and most industry bodies also provide opportunities for continuing professional development. The opportunities are everywhere – all you need to do is make sure you avail yourself of them and keep up to date.
2. Self drive and motivation are essential
Do you always have to be supervised or chased to complete work? Does your business only focus on growth when in crisis?
To be a successful entrepreneur you need to be self-driven – so find out what motivates you, and do more of it.
Studies show that it is easier to remember uncompleted tasks than accomplished ones. This can be a little demotivating, so, to mitigate this, make a note of the tasks you have already completed and give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ whenever you look at the list. It will help you remain motivated and become a self-driven person; knowing that there is a lot that you have already done, so there is a lot that you can do.
Another thing that you can do to force yourself to value your past achievements is to save, print or highlight all the recommendations and awards that you’ve received. Put these in a visible place where you will be looking at them often.
Additionally, when you get a complimentary note from a client, you can print out the email and put it somewhere where you can easily check it out whenever you need a boost.
3. Plan and get organised
Failure to plan is planning to fail. Without setting defined goals it becomes impossible to gauge your progress. Also, psychologically, it helps to tick tasks off and keep you motivated.
I prefer to have targets or broader goals that span 12/24 months, these are grand ideas, some might have shape, some might be in development. The idea is to know where you are heading in the long run. These broader goals are further chunked down to shorter 3 to 6 month targets. Beyond this I work from daily and weekly tasks.
There are many things that you have to do in a day, so list them down in order of priority and when finished, tick them across. There are plenty of apps and cloud based business tools that can help you to achieve this, so take your time to find the one that works best for you.
Naturally, I use Skylight to manage my tasks and organise them by key milestones and projects. So, let’s say, Skylight needs a new feature, I’ll create a task for this and keep all my related notes and research attached to this task as I, or someone in my team, works until this task is completed.
Sometimes we are adding more tasks than actually completing them but this helps us keep a log of what needs to be done, as well as what has been done.
4. Your goals matter but your vision matters most
Every Tom, Dick and Harry has goals! Ask almost anyone and they will tell you they have some sort of a goal.
So, why don’t people achieve those goals? The main reason is VISION, (followed by focus and determination).
Just having a list of goals is not going to cut it until, or unless, you have a specific vision. What do you want to achieve in your business and what will it look like when you have achieved it?
Always ask yourself this question before engaging in any activity and soon you will find yourself paying attention to the right things that can propel your business ahead.
5. Stay active and be social
When we’re under pressure, we tend to be less active and our quality of thinking and attention may be negatively affected.
However, this can be countered by exercising. Since some people do not like the word “exercise”, so let’s call it “staying active”.
This can include walking around the block, taking a flight of stairs, jogging, watching and copying the moves of an exercise video, brisk walking or even working out at the gym three times a week.
Exercise is not only good for your health, but it will also boost the quality of your thinking. When your quality of thinking improves, you will be able to focus better on actions that help you achieve your business goals.
Small business owners and start-ups entrepreneurs suffer a lot from over work, being a workaholic all the time is the worst thing you can do. There is always more work than time!
Social time can be time off with friends and family but it can also mean reaching an extended network at social events and conferences.
This helps with keeping in life in balance and will improve your network by connecting you with people who have succeeded in your field.
Never forget the reason why you started your business. Was it the passion to help people? Did you want to bring a change to your city, state or even country? Solve a problem?
Even when things are tough, cling to the main reason that made you start your business and keep forging forward. Take feedback and improve on what works. Avoid any failure mind-set and shift to the success mind-set by continued self-development and learning.
I recommend starting small and building a routine. See what works best in your given circumstances; bad habits take time to shed and good ones take even longer to set in.
Remember that our brains are programed to look for the easiest way out, that is why so many New Year resolutions fail. If you are committed to start today – you will see the results.
I end with this famous quote by the Dalai Lama;
“Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation”.
About the Author
This guide has been written for ByteStart by Taimur Khan, founder of Skylightit.com, a cloud based management and productivity tool for project collaboration – designed specifically for freelancers and small businesses. Taimur is a serial entrepreneur with a string of successful companies to his name, including Blueberry Creative, which he took it from start-up to exit, and WIDEi Films.
More on ByteStart
You can find lots more advice on getting the best out of yourself in these other ByteStart guides;
- How finding a great mentor could help you to grow, and your business to flourish
- Barriers to growth – how to identify them and how to overcome them
- 5 simple steps to overcoming procrastination
- The 7 qualities every business woman needs
- Increasing your personal efficiency – how to get more done in less time
And, if you’re launching a new business, these will help you start on the right track;
- Top 10 business planning tips for start-ups
- The start-up survival guide – 6 practical tips to help you get through the early years
- 10 advantages of running your business as a limited company over being a sole trader
- The 3 issues you’ll need to overcome if you want your start-up to reach £1m turnover
- Which types of business insurance are you legally required to take out?