You have a great idea that’s going to help lots of people. It makes you feel good even thinking about it. You can imagine what the world will be like when your new idea starts spreading. The potential for transformation is exponential. This is the dream – doing what you love and being successful.
And then there are some sobering statistics. There are apparently about 400 million entrepreneurs in the world (around 5% of the population). A little over 50% of businesses fail in the first 5 years. Another statistic says 90% of startups fail. And 82% of businesses are self-funded.
More and more people are creating their own businesses and looking to make a positive difference in the way they do business. I believe that business is the biggest key to solving the great challenges we face on our planet. And in 20 years of coaching and teaching business owners, many of them gamechangers, I’ve seen some mistakes over and over again.
They usually happen because the person didn’t know any better or thought they were doing the right thing. I’ve boiled them down to 10 mistakes to avoid if you possibly can. Creating a conscious business is challenging enough without them.
1. Spend all your savings and run out of money
This is amazingly common. It usually takes a lot longer than you think to create a purpose-led business or a new organisation or project. It’s often harder to make or raise money than you expect, so your initial projections can be highly optimistic. It’s also very challenging to raise money or make sales when you’re desperate.
It’s far better to keep a source of income while you’re building your new project. It can be part-time, or working for someone else. You might feel it’s a compromise, but in the end you want your new venture to work, so you need to support it as best you can. Running out of money or investing everything in your business may seem heroic (and, unfortunately, that heroic approach is part of the entrepreneurial culture), but it isn’t fun and it isn’t very efficient.
Use your entrepreneurial flair to keep the cash flowing all the time and you’ll have a much better ride.
2. Ignore short term cash
I wonder how many purpose-driven, conscious entrepreneurs are struggling because they don’t have enough cash on a day to day basis. They’re so caught up in their purpose that they take their eyes off the ball and don’t take care of their regular personal and business needs. I see this all the time.
What I’ve learned is that successful, established businesses always make sure they do a proportion of their business with solid, preferably long-term clients who pay the bills so cash flow doesn’t become a problem. In my own business, I’ve learned to always have a base of clients who pay regularly so I know I can pay my expenses. When I forget about that for a while (usually because I get comfortable), my cash flow drops and I have to take urgent action to get it moving again. The more I’ve researched this, the more I’ve discovered that it’s the same for everyone.
3. Be afraid of making money
It’s shocking to me how prevalent is the belief that it’s not ethical to make money if you’re doing what you love or you’re doing good for others. That makes for a very dysfunctional world where we either have to sell our souls to make money or help others and be constantly broke.
In my experience, having written the book, Love Money, Money Loves You, it’s highly ethical to create a business that serves others and to make money from it. The money shows that you’re effective in what you’re doing and allows you to keep going and to grow. It also enables you to take care of your family and yourself. There’s no virtue in struggling (except that struggling is probably better than being lazy), and even less in depriving your family of what they need.
I encourage you to face any fear around making money and ask yourself some deep questions about what would happen to the world if all the people who wanted to do good were unsuccessful, broke, and unable to thrive. Is that a world you’d want to live in? If not, please figure out a better solution.
4. Be emotional
Emotion is the downfall of many businesses and projects. Self-mastery is the saviour of many challenges and crises. There’s a reason why research about meditation and relaxation consistently shows such positive benefits.
The majority of the work I do with gamechangers and entrepreneurs is to help them to relax, calm down, and find inner peace. We’ve resolved huge tax and legal problems, turned around financial disasters, saved multi-million dollar sales that had been lost, solved supplier problems, and eased difficult client situations by creating peace over and over again.
I now annoy people quite often by warning them not to get too excited, because being over-excited scatters their energy, which can ruin a potential good result. Likewise, being depressed, anxious or worried about business only makes life harder than it already is.
This doesn’t mean you should suppress your feelings by tuning out or switching off. I’m suggesting that you discover how to manage yourself so you’re not run by emotional reactivity.
Anything you can learn to master your emotional life is worthwhile and the long-term benefits outweigh even the enormous short-term gain.
5. Ignore your marriage or personal relationships
This is a big one. Sometimes work is a lot easier than a personal relationship. Sometimes relationships seem to distract you from your mission and purpose. Issues in your primary relationship can take up a lot of time and energy, and you may feel that you’re letting other people down if you pay attention to your domestic situation.
In my experience of working with gamechangers (as well as in my personal experience), giving your personal relationships lower priority is all the wrong way round. Your close personal relationships are where you expand your capacity to love. They will push your buttons and expose your weaknesses to the extreme, if you don’t open up to more love.
It’s easy to talk about love and creating a world where people love each other, but this starts in your own heart and your own family and community. In fact, I’ve come to recognise that these very personal relationships give you challenges that specifically help you fulfil your mission or purpose.
This is where you can explore a much deeper, more lasting love than anywhere else. It’s where you learn to overcome your tendencies to be heady, right all the time, annoying or annoyed, irritable, arrogant, a victim, self important, self righteous, and I could name a host more behaviours that are unattractive and easy to fall into.
Love is key to your happiness, your success and your ability to manifest.
6. Imagine that your kids’ problems aren’t connected with your mission
A suicidal teenager, a sick child, behaviour problems, depression, anxiety. It’s easy to think that this is family stuff and that the business/mission must go on regardless. And this is another case where paying attention to work can be easier than dealing with heartbreaking situations at home.
Where I’ve worked with families in trouble, I’ve always found that the best outcomes arise when both parents take full responsibility and are fully engaged. These kinds of problems are about your humanity. They call you to expand and go beyond what you already know. They ask you to listen in ways you haven’t listened before, to understand what may be almost incomprehensible to you, to let go of judgement and prejudice, to learn new things that you didn’t want to have to learn, and to expand your heart again and again.
If your child goes through a difficult time, there is a great gift in there for you if you engage. It will help you become a wiser, more grounded, more fulfilled human being and you will bring this into your mission and business. Ultimately it will enrich us all.
7. Ignore your personal health, well-being, and energy
If you’ve ever experienced burnout, you know that pushing yourself to the point of burnout isn’t worth it. Ignoring any kind of sickness isn’t worth it, either. Once lost, good health can take a long time to recover. The big question is how to demonstrate to someone who hasn’t been there yet just how important it is to take care of yourself.
Perhaps I was lucky in a way. My younger sister died of a brain tumour when I was 30. Somehow I realised through that experience that no one else could take care of my health, not even the best doctors in the country.
I’d already burned out once at 28, and I did it again soon after her death, but then I started to learn about energy and health and I never looked back. It’s the most precious knowledge and the foundation for everything I do.
I recommend that you always listen to your body and take quick action when something is going out of balance. You know inside yourself how healthy you really are. Good health brings mental clarity, focus, energy, stamina, motivation, enjoyment, relaxation, and a lot of other goodness that will help you greatly over the years. And you can have so much knowledge about health these days, if you want to, that you can pretty much avoid or heal most problems. It takes some determination and learning, and it’s valuable beyond measure.
8. Fight your way to your goal
Fighting is exhausting, seriously. And if you get exhausted you may never reach your goal. Also you’re unlikely to enjoy it once you get there. And what’s the point of that?
If you want to create change, it’s more valuable to learn how to align yourself with life and energy so you don’t have to fight. It’s amazing what’s possible once you’re relaxed, happy and creative.
I know this approach may sound naive, and I’m not saying you won’t encounter challenges. It’s just that there are more effective ways of overcoming them than fighting.
9. Be really serious about what you’re doing
This is a tricky one. We’re mostly dealing with pretty serious situations. It’s seems obvious to be serious about something you really care about.
There’s only one problem: Being serious slows things down. Being happy makes things happen faster. Being serious means you have to work much harder yourself. Being relaxed means more gets done for you. Being serious creates blockages in the energy system. Being light opens up the flow and allows more serendipity.
I find many people struggle with this. Our culture and education system tends to favour seriousness. It’s hard to believe that being lighthearted is more effective. I can only recommend that you try it out and see for yourself.
10. Fight the system, be against the system, hate the system
You can spend all your energy hating, fighting and going against the system, but the system is very big and powerful. Changing the system usually takes a very very long time, if it’s even possible.
At an energy level, when you fight something you give it energy, which means you make it stronger. The more attention you give it, the more you build it up. Strong emotions also send energy, so hate, in particular, is very powerful in creating more of what you hate. Even worse, hate creates it in a very negative way. This is exactly what you don’t want to do.
With what we now know about quantum physics and the laws of creativity and manifestation, it’s become clear to me that it’s more effective to create a new system than to fight the old system. As people adopt the new system the old one will become obsolete.
If people don’t adopt your new system, don’t blame the old system. Pay attention instead to creating something that people will adopt. That can be very challenging because people don’t always do what to you is right, obvious or beneficial. But if you can create a system that people love, adopt and share, a system that is also positive, that’s a truly great achievement. Then you’re fighting for something, not against, and all the power of life can align behind you.
Here are a couple of ways I can help you create practical, grounded improvements in your life or business by expanding your consciousness.