Most entrepreneurs have said to themselves at some point, "I had no idea starting my own business was so complex!" But great adventures lead us down paths we would never tread otherwise. It's not easy to choose the path of the unknown in a world that seems to crave what's secure and predictable. If you are starting a business, you will discover the best and sometimes unfortunately, the worst in people. Focus on the positive, and vow to be positive, and your journey to business success will ultimately be triumphant.
Starting a business will put you into contact with new people all the time who fulfill roles you hadn't considered before. Some people will energize you and inspire you to continue, while others seemingly have nothing better to do than discourage you or try to bring you down. Knowing who they are and what their motives are can help you navigate the windy road to entrepreneurial success. Here are five personality types you will meet on your road to business success.
Where would we be without helpers? It might be your best friend who is by your side come what may. It could be a neighbor who takes an interest in your venture and is always there to offer encouragement. It could just be that good friend that lets you vent. Helpers may have no direct impact on your business or its success, but they provide support that is every bit as essential as that of your vendors and partners. Recognize these people and try to never take them for granted. In fact, you should be sure to thank them for their encouragement and their friendship.
Expect to encounter pessimists and haters along the way. Maybe they think they're giving you a "reality check," but you do not have to cash it. You know yourself, your idea, and your plan better than anyone else, and some people will simply never understand that level of passion or commitment. In fact, the haters you encounter who try to discourage you are unknowingly giving you very valuable information: They're indirectly showing you that you're doing something right. Mediocrity doesn't inspire much interest, but success can be threatening to some people, and can inspire negativity because of that.
Learn to distinguish supporters from flatterers early, and you'll save yourself a lot of heartache. Flatterers know how to stoke your ego. You may think they're the ultimate supporters. But then, perhaps, they ask you to do a project for free or at cost or take on a case "for the exposure." Or they attempt to exploit your gifts and talents for their gain in some way. In the short term, accommodating these people may feel good. Eventually, however, you will realize that used you for their own gain. That's a sure recipe for resentment. There's no time for moochers or resentment on the path to business success.
You will encounter people who genuinely mean no harm, but who don't deliver. Maybe they offered to paint your back office with paint left over from doing their home, but keep "forgetting" about it. Maybe they offer to put you in touch with a supplier or vendor, but never actually do so. Remember that actions outweigh words. You should also realize that some people who subtly undermine your success are the ones who were either too afraid or too uncommitted to accomplish their own dreams. Undermining your dreams may be a way to help them feel better about themselves.
A great mentor in your journey as an entrepreneur is a gift beyond measure. His or her time with you may be brief, or it may last for years. You will learn, grow, and develop the confidence you need with a mentor constantly giving you honest feedback. A mentor is a leader who makes you want to succeed and demonstrates how to do that. They will generally be among your biggest supporters, but they also know how and when to constructively explain where there's room for improvement.
Mentors aren't necessarily who you expect them to be. It could be someone who has succeeded despite serious obstacles or someone who opens your mind up to new ideas and philosophies. Connecting with mentors today is easier than ever before, thanks to the internet. Twitter and LinkedIn are two great places to look for mentors, but then there’s SCORE.org which is an organization that provides business mentors at no cost. You can meet online or in person.
From the time you start your own business, you’ll look at life and work differently. It may be the first time you've really followed your heart. Expect obstacles, setbacks, and the occasional flat-out failure. Understand that successful people deal with all of these on the road to success.
If you'd like more insights on starting your own business, I invite you to download two free chapters of my book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months.
Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.