I’ve been in the blogging community for roughly 10 years. It’s one of the many serial entrepreneur endeavors I’ve taken on from time to time. I haven’t always found success with them. In fact, most of my early blogs failed quite miserably and I used to be ecstatic when I would get just a couple page views – a far cry from the traffic I’m blessed to get these days. But with every failure came a lesson that could be applied.
And perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to “cut out the maybes”.
Success requires conviction. It requires absolute confidence that you can do something because that confidence keeps you invested. Sure, there’s always the argument that people have a tendency to cling onto dead-end ideas. I’m not suggesting there doesn’t come a point to know our limits and face risk mitigation, but what I am suggesting is to set higher limits for what you can achieve.
It begins with saying “yes”.
As I continued in my pursuit of blogging, I realized I was picking up a variety of skills related to not just writing content but being a webmaster in general. Eventually, I had a portfolio of WordPress sites behind me as bread crumbs of web design experience. I had absorbed countless articles on search engine optimization and improving web site speed. And as my sites grew I began to become familiar with virtual private servers and content delivery network.
I had learned all of that stuff for myself and for the success of my own sites.
And then one day it occurred to me that I could take all of the stuff I had learned in my years of building sites and charge people. So, I spent a week building 515 Hosting & Web Design, a one stop shop for local businesses to tap into my expertise with building websites, providing search engine optimization and hosting them.
Then I got my first inquiry. And then another. And another.
There was just one problem. No one was actually hiring me.
Why would they, though? As I looked at each of my responses to their request for web development I wasn’t beaming with confidence.
“I think I can do that.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem.”
“I don’t think that’ll be too hard.”
“I’m pretty sure I can have it done in that time frame.”
Where was the “yes”? Where my “absolutely, I can help you!”? Where was my belief in myself that I could even perform the tasks that I had set out in business to perform?
I started responding with “yes”.
Just like that I was getting hired.
Even if I hadn’t necessarily done what was requested before, within reason I put faith in my ability to learn how. Over the years, in my own web design experiences, I had been tasked with making a change, fixing a problem, or implementing a feature. Time and time again I had succeeded and so I had to apply that same self-assurance that building a project for someone else would just as likely require me to learn a new skill. I just didn’t need to be so transparent about the amount of learning on the job I would be requiring.
Truth be told, there were times I felt like I was getting in over my head.
I felt like I was making promises I couldn’t keep – that I was just “faking it until I made it”. Within reason, I was saying “yes” to pretty much any inquiry even if it meant spending more time learning how to do the request than actually doing the request. I suppose it was a case of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, because I found myself taking on projects, affirming a deadline and realizing there was more involved than I had planned on.
But looking back, that has been the key to success. I think it’s the key to success with any endeavor.
Customers don’t like “maybes”.
Customers don’t want to hear “I’m pretty sure I can do that”.
Customers don’t like hesitation about your qualifications. Imagine you sit down at the barbershop and ask the barber if he can give you a straight razor shave and he responds with “I’m pretty sure”. Would you trust that razor against your neck? Probably not.
You don’t go under the knife of a doctor that says “I think I can”. Why would we want to present any sort of business this way? And yet, so often I found myself selling my abilities as merely “pretty sure”.
Maybes allow us to feel like we’re not letting a customer down. If we don’t make promises and we just set our capabilities low we can avoid the embarassment if things don’t pan out – at least, I think that’s what sometimes we subconsciously do.
Instead of letting that mindset of not letting a customer down by not setting their expectations too high, alter your mindset to not letting a customer down by setting higher expectations of ourselves?
I’m not suggesting you walk into an interview for a CFO position fresh out high school graduation under the assumption you can figure it out as you go. I’m just suggesting that you take a look at what your capabilities are, what your realistic capacity for learning beyond those capabilities are and stop selling yourself short.
From now on, you’re a “yes man”. You’re a man that believes you can achieve what you set your mind, too.
Push yourself to push yourself.
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