Last week I spoke at an event attended by about fifty entrepreneurs with businesses ranging from pre-revenue to about 4-million in annual revenues. While I knew I was expressing an important fact through one particular statement, I was unaware of how profoundly it would affect many of the entrepreneurs in attendance. Here it is:
You don't know what you don't know.
As simple as these seven words are, they helped people experience an insightful shift of perspective about their past, as well as their future. Attendees later told me that they felt relief--a sense of forgiveness of self for mistakes they've made and money they've lost. Seven little words gave these entrepreneurs permission to accept the past and move forward with a strong determination to create big change in their lives and business.
You don't know what you don't know, and that is perfectly fine--until you make decisions based on a series of incomplete or faulty information. But how would you even know that your next decision may damage your business and possibly drain your bank account? That's the problem--you won't.
So, what to do? Surround yourself with people who have been there, done that. You won't have to question your decisions and take reckless risks when you surround yourself with mentors, coaches, and industry experts. While admittedly being an entrepreneur can feel very lonely, you are not alone. Many, many people have marched on the very same path, so why not learn from them and increase your knowledge less painfully? Here are four things you can do now to prevent loss and regret later.
1. Identify three (or more) types of virtual mentors
I refer to respected leaders and successful entrepreneurs as virtual mentors because we don't have to personally know them to learn from them. Select at least one successful person in your industry, one who is a remarkable leader, and one who teaches busy people about physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Devour their advice, learn everything you can about their philosophies and follow their success path. Read their books, search on interviews or online videos, and when they speak at an event, attend it if possible.
2. Find at least one mentor who will advise you
Most successful people want to help others to become successful, don't believe that it's unrealistic to connect with them. I once asked a client who her life and business idol was; who would she give just about anything to engage in a conversation? It was Kathy Ireland, whose business acumen took her to a worth of about five-hundred-million-dollars. I taught my client how to visualize this meeting and open herself to the possibility of learning from her idol. Within two weeks this client found herself in the seat next to Ireland on a Virgin America flight. They became fast friends and magic happened.
While this is a rare example, my point is that you won't get what you want if you never ask and don't believe. Reach out to people and ask for help. Begin with a LinkedIn or Facebook connection and work your way up to the ask.
3. Hire a seasoned coach
No successful person makes it on their own; they build a team. A seasoned entrepreneur coach with a track record of success will help you explore your choices, eliminate negative thought patterns, and teach you what they've learned from the many clients before you. Some business owners believe they can't afford a great coach, I know countless entrepreneurs who will tell you that you can't not afford a great coach. Think about opportunities and money lost (past and future) and imagine the savings had you been guided through those decisions by someone who has a wealth of experience. The right coach is priceless on many levels.
4. Ask for guidance from other business owners
During last week's event, I suggested to a number of people that they find others who have successfully achieved things relevant to their next steps. Launching and maintaining a thriving Amazon store, for instance. Find people who can share their resources and point you in the right direction. Make sure you seek out a non-competitor and be specific with your ask. In the Amazon example, I suggested using an experienced Amazon marketplace expert, but why take a chance on someone you don't know? Ask for referrals, advice, and guidance. It may take a few attempts, but you'll find someone to help.
You don't know what you don't know. Let go of the past and fill your future with people who can fill in the blanks and teach you something. Life can indeed be easier and business more fruitful. If you have useful information, please share it with others. It will enrich your life and put some good karma in the bank.