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Andi Gray: Get off the roller coaster of entrepreneurship

Andi GrayAfter a few years of owning my own business, I feel like I’m living on the edge. I see opportunities and jump on them. I ride a roller coaster of ups and downs. I put some wins on the board and try to leave behind the things I wish I could do over. It all seems like such a gamble. Is this what business ownership is all about?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: For many owners, running a business becomes a thrill ride of excitement, an adrenaline rush, letdown and recharge. Look at behaviors linked to entrepreneurship. There are obvious warning signs and success markers. Survive the roller coaster ride of small-business ownership and make more money while doing so.

One trait cited in discussions about entrepreneurs is impulse behavior. It is often posed as a chicken vs. the egg question: which came first, the impulsive behavior that turned into entrepreneurship, or the small-business owner who survived by honing impulsive behavior.

Impulsiveness has played a role in survival for as long as humans and animals have lived on this planet. Responding quickly and reacting with little or no thought helped keep us from becoming dinner when we lived in caves. Impulsiveness as a child, in some studies, is shown to lead to dominance as they mature into adults capable of taking action.

We use words like decisive, determined, courageous and successful to describe people who can act quickly or impulsively. We also use words like rash, hasty and reckless, uncontrolled and careless. Why one view vs. the other?

Business owners can probably think of situations where they dashed into action, only to look back and ask why they moved so fast. There are also plenty of examples where acting quickly worked in their favor without getting lost in analysis paralysis. Knowing when to act and when to sit back and wait can be a crucial skill for business survival.

Business owners hone skills in the real world handling all sorts of challenges and hurried decisions, like dealing with upset customers or managing cash flow to make payroll. Find out what works, what doesn’t work, learn to repeat successes and avoid situations with poor outcomes. As the business grows, owners encounter situations that are not exactly similar to past experiences. The honed skill of acting quickly, decisively, without looking back helps to get things moving.

This is where business owners can get into trouble.

Learning deliberate behavior, especially in unfamiliar situations, is crucial to long-term success. Business owners should learn how to buy time in unfamiliar situations. Often business owners feel two opposing forces — controlling impulses and the adrenaline of making flash decisions to solve a problem. Entrepreneurs love to “jump in.” It’s hard to break the habit of making decisions right now instead of waiting.

Learn from past mistakes and acknowledge the missteps, accept responsibility and figure out how to do it differently in the future.

Find new support resources that help as you grow. Develop the ability to be proactive and innovative vs. reactive. Work from a set of written goals and develop systems to analyze new situations. Learn to get the right outcomes by staying within risk boundaries. Know when to walk away from presumably great opportunities. Successful business owners also learn how to moderate emotion, which means walking away when faced with a strong emotional reaction.

Success is tied to learning how to limit potentially destructive behavior. Gain skill at saying no. Stop overextending yourselves financially, emotionally and physically.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc. (strategyleaders.com), a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping small to midsize, privately held businesses achieve doubled revenues and tripled profits in repetitive growth cycles. Interested in learning how Strategy Leaders can help your business? Call for a free consultation and diagnostic process at 877-238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Email her at AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for a library of Ask Andi articles.

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