This past week I have been talking with three very different business owners and they are all in the process of leveling up in their businesses.
The best analogy I have for leveling up comes from playing video games and I was not a good video game player. I did have a lot of friends that were and I would watch them succeed and win in video games and it was really impressive.
In business as in video games, to get to the next level you have to:
- meet certain challenges
- acquire certain skills
- acquire certain tools
- build up enough points (money)
- be motivated and determined
- able to pause and reflect on what is working and not working
- have a little luck.
One really big difference between video game leveling-up and real-life leveling-up is that in real life, you have emotional IQ and you have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to level-up or you will fail the next level and that could end your business. Life is not a video game.
After coaching all of these years I can see the points where owners are leveling-up and start to ask themselves questions and really work on growing their emotional IQ to be prepared and positioned for success at the next level. We will also talk about what they are letting go of to get to the next level. Many times the tools and skills needed at one level of the business need to be farmed out and the owner needs to grow and expand in new ways. I also know that this is one of the reasons they are a business owner or entrepreneur, they love advancing to the next level. That doesn’t mean they aren’t scared about it, they are just more excited than scared and so they do it.
Common Business Level-Up Milestones:
- First employee on the payroll
- First building rented or office space
- First big marketing strategy
- First employee outside of family and friends
- First firing
- First firing of family or friend
- First big loan -taking on large debt
- Buying a building
- Having an HR department
- Equipment purchase over $200,000
- Crossing the $100,000 mark
- Crossing the $500,000 mark
- Crossing the $1,000,000 mark
- Crossing the $1,000,000 mark
- Crossing the $10,000,000 mark
Back to the three business owners from the recent weeks, each of them is crossing over one or two of these lines. They are working on the business plan, they are working on the loan, and that all reminds me of building roads. We in the surveying department had a saying, “Everything looks good on paper, wait until we are out in the field building it, then we will know how good the plan is.” Plans are really really important and right after you have a solid plan for your businesses you need to start to map out what it is going to take for emotional IQ to execute the plan and to stay at the next level.
How to Mentally Level-Up With Success:
- Reflect on what is working
- Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the company and you
- Learn – take classes, watch videos, ask colleague, read books
- Know your “Why”
- List out what you need
- List of five people that can support and mentor you through this process (not just the banker, investors, employees or board members)
- Have a written plan
- Emotional support – counselor, coach, physiatrist
- Do not do list – this is the opposite of the todo list
This is why conferences and ongoing training are so important. This is why having trusted advisors is so important. This is where coaching can be so valuable.
Let’s focus on emotional support and why that matters. When you level-up you are taking yourself mentally to a place you have not been before. It is going to be scary and there are going to be a lot of questions you can’t answer at the next level and not being able to answer those questions is going to cause anxiety. Anxiety does a whole bunch of things to the body physically and to the brain that makes it even harder to problem solve and to stay at the top of your game. That is why it is equally as important to prepare mentally for the next level as is it to have a well-crafted plan.
For the woman who is starting a new business that she had been dabbling in on the side the greatest anxiety trigger is going to be not having a weekly paycheck. This is security and newly minted business owners are never prepared for that feeling when it hits.
For the business owner that is looking at buying a building, the biggest anxiety trigger is going to be the buyer’s remorse that will hit days to weeks after all of the papers are signed. Every doubt, fear, and old beliefs that they have about themselves, and this building will land on them in one swift PLOP.
For the business owner who is hiring key managers and delegating and increasing revenue and payroll at the same time and the same rate, the anxiety trigger will be not meeting numbers one week in sales and questioning the whole business and why all the stress and headaches.
None of these things were written into the business plan as being a problem or something to worry about and yet they can all kill the whole business if not handled well and addressed right away. How you address it is simple. You dig down, into your core beliefs and find the one that is old, wrong, and outdated and you update it. One of the best ways to disprove and update a belief is to fact check it in twelve ways. I make my clients do all twelve because when you can see and feel twelve times how really off that belief is, you will have shifted it and you get to move it. It may try to come back and you can just reference your sheet and remind it, that it’s wrong. I have a couple of other processes too, it always depends on the person’s learning style what tool I use.
Life is not a video game. Life is so much richer, deeper, and vibrant. In life if you make a mistake you don’t just get to use another life and start over in a second, it takes a lot more energy to clean up the mistake.
I think we are always leveling-up in business and in life, we just might not be aware of it and we are all moving at different speeds with different skills so it looks different for each person.
If you are in the process of leveling-up in your business I hope these tools and details will help you better prepare and have all the right tools and skills to be successful at the next level and ready to keep moving up.