My Entrepreneurial Journey Part 8: Purpose vs Resistance
My current mantra is focus and simplify, focus and simplify. I am working hard to stay focused on the most important actions that will help my business be successful and to eliminate all unnecessary complexity and distractions. To make my business healthy and sustainable I need to focus on three simple metrics: number of customers, frequency of orders, and average order value. If I grow each of those even a small amount, they compound each other and my top line will grow. If I can do that affordably, then I can impact my bottom line too. It sounds so simple, but yet I find it very difficult. I suppose it falls under the “simple but not easy” category.
I listened to an interesting podcast the other day–it was an episode of “Ten Percent Happier” with Dan Harris, which is one of my favorites (alongside “By All Means” of course!). He was interviewing Ashley Whillans, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, about her book, “Time Smart” (which I haven’t read yet). They talked about “goal conflict,” and I could completely relate to it. If you don’t have a clear intention or goal for how you are spending the next hour (or 15 minutes, or half a day) there can be a real feeling of conflict: should I be spending time with my kids? Should I be doing my accounting? Should I be writing new web copy? Should I be scrolling through Instagram or Linked In? (Definitely not the last one, though it is probably what ends up happening while I’m figuring out what I should be doing).
Setting an intention and allocating chunks of your day to a specific purpose can create a feeling of flow and momentum that is hard to come by when facing “goal conflict.” It is also a powerful weapon when facing the omnipresent foe of productivity: Resistance. Steven Pressfield wrote a great book, “The War of Art,” that expands upon the characteristics of this inner enemy. He writes, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
I’ve come to realize that it is a lack of certainty about my actions that makes me hesitant and less focused.
Despite knowing all these benefits of intention setting and focus, I still find myself distracted and procrastinating. A bit like raising children, running your own business highlights one’s shortcomings. There’s no place to hide, you have to face your own weaknesses everyday because there’s no one else to blame.
I’ve come to realize that it is a lack of certainty about my actions that makes me hesitant and less focused. Fear of wasting my time with actions that won’t move the business forward, or spending money on advertising or other programs that don’t work, ultimately represents a fear of failure and an avoidance of uncertainty. I’m working on accepting the fact that uncertainty is a huge part of being an entrepreneur, but I am reminded that there is one thing I can be certain of: doing nothing won’t achieve anything, and trying something whether it succeeds or fails will teach me something. To quote Albert Einstein, “Failure is success in progress.”
I believe that if I take time to understand my customers, to really care about them, to understand who they are and where they are, and to give them products that improve their lives and bring them joy, then their number will grow and they will come back for more. Each day I recommit myself to that purpose, and everyday I am distracted by worries about the future, challenges to overcome, new ideas and “magic solutions” being offered to me. But I keep coming back again, sometimes clinging only by the fingertips, to my mission of creating a beauty company that believes beauty should make you feel good, instead of not-good-enough. Everyday the battle between Resistance and Purpose rages, and I’m counting on my mantra of “focus and simplify” to help purpose win.
Wish me luck!
Catch up on Powell’s entrepreneurial journey:
Part 1: Intent vs. Buy
Part 2: Help Wanted
Part 3: The Gift of Feedback
Part 4: Human Vs. Algorithm
Part 5: A Vs. B Minus
Part 6: End of Year Reflection
Part 7: What Now?