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Startup – again: How to rediscover your entrepreneurial self

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, said, “Think small and act small, and we’ll get bigger. Think big and act big, and we’ll get smaller.” It’s important to stay lean and sharp in the business world, but it takes effort to rekindle the creative and entrepreneurial juices that got you where you are now. Kelleher’s words are a great reminder to think of your business as a startup every day. Often when we’ve been in business or in the same position for many years, no matter the level of success we’ve obtained, we lose that initial feeling of hunger for business, fear of failure, and incredible drive for achievement. To continue a successful business trajectory, you need to consistently rediscover your original energy, optimism, and thirst for success. How to get and not forget that hunger?

Remind yourself of the stakes. At the beginning of each day, emphasize that you need to make money, secure funding, or find new customers and clients. Don’t get bogged down solely in returning calls, reading mail and articles, or letting your day be consumed by meetings. Every morning when I sit down at my desk, I ask myself, “What are you going to do today to make money?” That question alone is enough to get my head in the right direction and focus on growth. Redirect your staff’s attention to the hunt. Money and clients don’t grow on trees. Remind yourself and staff (gently) that payroll or commissions aren’t manna from heaven and are rather earned on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. What are they doing to make money, and, just as importantly, what are you doing to support them in their quest to be successful? Remind them of a visually interesting phrase: “We only eat what we kill.”

Go back to your future. Remind yourself of all the things you initially did to jump start your career or business. Rediscover the tasks and habits that are now ingrained in you that made you what you are today. Was it networking? Visit or join a group new to you and you’ll immediately be the new kid on the block. That’s good because that potentially anxious feeling of having to introduce yourself and really explain what you do should be easier to overcome now. Simplify and focus. We have so much to do and so little time. To regain the laser focus that brought you those light bulb ideas and ah-ha moments, you need to mentally and sometimes physically sweep the decks. Take an hour and just think about the business and brainstorm the next path to success. No phone calls, no emails, no smart phone; kick back in your chair, look at where you work, and visualize success. If you can’t find that space for clarity in your office, go to a conference room or find a quiet cubicle. Meditate on the path that brought you to today and visualize yourself on the next journey.

Once you rediscover your hunger, you can lead your pride on the hunt once again.

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