Laura Roeder is an acclaimed social media marketing expert and founder of Edgar, a social media automation and content management tool.
Over Labor Day weekend, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" became the top-grossing movie of 2014, thanks in no small part to its newly christened box office leading man, Chris Pratt.
Pratt's rise to the top didn't come easy, though, and wouldn't have been possible without the dramatic physical transformation that took him from a schlubby everyman on TV's "Parks and Recreation" to a bona fide action hero. And while he certainly didn't mean to, when describing that transformation and the effect it's had on his career and his life to Esquire Magazine, he let slip some surprising business insights that every entrepreneur should pay attention to.
How can Chris Pratt's perspective on progress positively influence your business philosophy, exactly?
1. Don't write yourself off.
When Pratt was first approached about "Guardians," his first instinct was to not even bother auditioning. Overweight and known primarily as a comedic actor, he was haunted by the humiliating memory of an unsuccessful audition for another action blockbuster years prior.
As an entrepreneur, you may never feel 100 percent "ready" for anything. You'll always want to perfect that product just a little bit more before you release it, to polish your website one more time before launch, to save just a little more money before making a new hire. When you settle for the things that you know because you're not sure you're ready for something bigger, though, you exclude yourself from opportunities you may have been perfect for.
Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to develop a piece of commercial software--only it was something my business had never done before. Easy as it would have been to write off the idea because it was so outside my comfort zone and my own experience, I decided to give it a shot--and lo and behold, eight months later, we were able to launch our first app. Just because you've never succeeded at something before doesn't mean it's impossible.
2. Redefine progress.
Pratt told Esquire that getting in shape is "the result of doing a little bit every day. Moments aren't just moments. A moment might be a week or a month."
Whether you're trying to get a new business of the ground, struggling for publicity, or even just trying to fine-tune your internal processes, it's tempting to forget that your eventual successes may depend on a lot of failures and frustrations right now. Progress doesn't come from doing one thing--it comes from doing a lot of things, and doing them consistently. Think about where your business is now, and ask yourself, what do you wish you had started six months ago? Six months from today, what will you wish you had started now?
It may be something as simple as beefing up your social media presence by posting more, or as complex as learning a new coding language. You may wish six months from now that you'd started building a savings earlier, or attended more conferences, or started recording that podcast you've been considering. Choosing not to prioritize those things is easy, because their rewards aren't immediate--if you continue to ignore them, though, you can't make the progress you want for your future self.
3. Change with your business.
For most of his career, Pratt has been a comedic character actor. Since undergoing his "Guardians" transformation, though, he's embraced his action hero side, including taking a starring role in an upcoming installment in the "Jurassic Park" series. "When you get in shape," he told Esquire, "the world around you becomes things you wanna jump on and climb up."
Even if you've become comfortable or complacent doing the things you've always done, you don't have to keep doing them. When you change your business, allow yourself to explore the new world you're occupying, and take advantage of the new opportunities around you.
I started out as an independent designer, and went from that to freelance business consulting. Freelance consulting turned into writing, information products, and web courses, which in turn led to my first foray into software development. Each of these changes has opened up new opportunities--for networking, rebranding and experimenting with what my business could do.
When you make a change in your own business, don't hesitate to leave your old way of doing things behind--what's waiting just ahead could be even more exciting than what you're used to.