Back when I was in college, I had an idea for a clothing business. I managed to turn it into a full-scale retailer and manufacturing company with products sold in more than 10 countries.
And I wasn't pleased with the buyer. The party expressed one future direction for my company during the sale process, and then took it the opposite way. It made me feel somewhat like a failure, even though that wasn't the case at all.
We're conditioned as children to train for one job that we'll do until we retire. That's rarely the case for entrepreneurs. We need to be prepared to start over--multiple times--in different industries.
Here are four of the steps you can take to maintain long-term success:
1. Step out of your comfort zone
First things first: You need to identify your comfort zone and take steps out of it.
This means different things to different people. For me, it meant putting myself out there and being sociable. I can play this, but I genuinely struggle to put on pretend smiles and talk just for the sake of talking.
Learn to not take yourself so seriously, and to not let situations outside your comfort zone stress you. It can do wonders.
You can--and should--maintain confidence and a hustler mindset. My advice, though, is to let go of being the invincible entrepreneur.
2. Find something that makes you happy
Nothing is worse than waking up and not finding any joy in what you're doing.
It's a motivation and creativity killer, and you'll burn yourself out. If what you're doing now drains you or changes the person you are, stop. As soon as you can.
I've shifted from clothing design to developing properties and building houses from the ground up, and it's been hard work--especially because I've decided to learn to do it myself.
As entrepreneurs, we already know what hard work and investment mean. When you find what will make you happy--rather than just what will earn you money--you have to be prepared and committed.
Set yourself up to learn something new every day and change your routine completely.
Ideally, you'll find something that makes money and uplifts those around you (and those whom you are touching through your product or service).
3. Get involved with your community
Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping young entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
Sometimes, I help with public speaking. Other times, I provide advice in an email.
If you'd asked me when I was younger if I'd ever teach anyone anything, I'd have laughed at you. After all, I was never a kid who particularly liked school.
It helps to find issues that are personal to you. I've been able to bring pressing First Nation issues, which are deeply important to me, to the forefront of public discussion. My family has been affected by government abuses of indigenous people, and I'm in many of these communities on a regular basis.
Getting involved with the community and like-minded individuals will open doors you didn't even know existed. It'll provide priceless learning experiences that will make you a better person and entrepreneur.
Once you've established yourself as a game changer and leader, you can tackle more complex issues and drive real change.
4. Don't expect a straight path
If you'd asked me five years ago, I'd have said the straight path to success was a relentless drive to make money. Now I believe there is no straight path to success--and that, sometimes, things fall into place even though you didn't expect them to.
Is your product or service needed? Is it useful to others? These are important questions. Give 100 percent to the entirety of a project--don't just focus on the money.
So long as your mind is open and you're able to prove yourself, you can increase your success in your current industry, whatever it is. You can embrace work in other areas, too--and help other people through your success.