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Coaching for Entrepreneurs 004 โ€“ Achievements

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Welcome back! You are already in the 4th week and just because you have started to work on your change, that you have eliminated one or the other time-waster from your life, and you have written down your goals for a year, you act differently than 95% of all other entrepreneurs!

Perhaps you were wondering when the entrepreneurial tasks would finally start? We're right in the middle! There's an old study of graduates from an elite American university. They were asked how many goals they had in life and how many of these goals they had written down. It was just 3 percent of all graduates who had written goals. After 10 years, these graduates were interviewed again. And the result was: These 3 percent earned more than the other 97% combined! Although there are also indications that this study never took place. But then it is a good invention. Honestly: if we look around: does it tend to be the determined or the silly who are successful?

We are right in the middle of laying the foundations for your success! And so we continue now! One of the most important activities as an entrepreneur is to develop self-confidence. Why is that so important?

Well, quite simply: science knows that most of our actions are emotional and unconscious. Estimates vary between 70-100%. I don't know, how these percentages are measured, but it's a fact that the vast majority of our actions are unconscious. Conversely, this means that the consciously planned part of our actions makes up only a small part of our activities. These are not unimportant, but we get far greater results when we take care of our emotions and our unconscious.

This may be an uncomfortable truth for fans of methods and checklists, that you work through consciously and in a controlled manner. Even those looking for 7 precise steps to success will be disappointed. That's not wrong, but it's only part of the way, the smaller part. Therefore, most of the initial coaching letters will consist of changing our emotions in the long run. And self-confidence is an important basis for this.

It is immediately obvious to most, that someone with low self-esteem will give up and give way more easily in the face of difficulties, than someone with high self-esteem. He's bad at negotiating. He's easier to throw off his path. He's more discouraged. He will engage only in less risky activities. And this is completely independent of whether both have the same plan on their schedule.

This is easy to measure for salespeople: Those with low self-confidence need longer to get back on track after every "no" on the phone. The direct consequence is fewer phone calls. Because they use the phone less than the high-confidence salespeople, they learn more slowly. The distance between them and sellers with high self-confidence is increasing. And this distance makes self-confidence shrink even further. Even if the sales skills were the same at the beginning, the results are very different after a short time.

Similar problems can be observed among the self-employed. I have often coached self-employed people who worked 14+ hours a day. And they would have liked to hire an employee, but couldn't pay them. I didn't understand that at the beginning.

Let's take a programmer who works 15 hours a day, 30 days a month. This is not as rare for freelancers, as you might think. That's 450 hours. Typically, 10-20 percent of these are administrative activities, such as writing offers and invoices, setting up your computer, etc., So around 360 hours would be productive. Then the hourly rate of a freelancer is around 70 euros. That should result in around 25,000 euros per month. Then why on earth can't these people hire and pay employees?

The answer is lack of self-confidence! Since one's activity is not valued, one starts to discount it. Reasons are then sought for this. Of the 360 โ€‹โ€‹hours, 100 hours are training. That doesn't count. Then the later work environment had to be recreated on one's computer for 20 hours. Which doesn't count either. Then 60 hours were searched for errors. That doesn't count either, and 80 hours are retroactive changes that also don't count.

The result: There are only 100 hours left on the bill and 10 euros per hour are charged, and for this, a discount is granted. So, the sales are not 25,000, but 6,000 euros. A lack of self-confidence is therefore responsible for the fact that often only a quarter of the possible amounts are billed. Also, this is not as rare as one might think.

Assuming, that this person would somehow manage to hire someone, then the following would happen: If this self-employed person would only charge his employee 6,000 euros for 450 hours. The employee is also diligent and would even work 225 hours instead of 160 hours a month. But then he still only generates 3,000 euros. Now an employed good programmer with ancillary wage costs might want 5,000 euros. This means that our self-employed person needs to add 2,000 euros every month. To generate this, he has to increase his working hours by a third. In our example, he would have to work 20 hours a day instead of 15 hours.

In such situations, I am always happy that this self-employed person is not in a position to hire anyone: Because he would have to work even more!

The key here is confidence. Familiarization is part of the job: Every programmer would have to familiarize himself with it. And every programmer would have to set up the working environment. And every programmer would look for errors. And there are subsequent changes with every programmer and every project. That's why the full 360 hours count and that requires self-confidence. Or to put it another way:

A self-employed will never become an entrepreneur
without self-confidence!

Why self-confidence is so important?

Another reason self-awareness is so important is that we need to wield power as entrepreneurs. Some now have a superficial problem with power. We will deal with that in a later coaching unit. This is usually a self-confidence issue. Unless we exercise power. I mean not only administrative power but also the power of influence. Then we cannot build a unified enterprise. And it takes self-confidence to exercise power.

After all, self-confidence also allows us a certain resistance to advice. We need this as entrepreneurs! When I started my first company, everyone advised me against it. Far too insecure! And you probably felt the same way. If we had listened, we would not be self-employed or entrepreneurs.

Then there are first successes and those who advised against it all come with advice on how to do it better. In addition, all the professional advisors:

  • Bankers,
  • tax advisors,
  • lawyers,
  • management consultants,
  • etc.

All of them come along and give you a thousand good tips. Again, it's important to ignore most of it! These people never started their businesses themself. A banker surely knows about a business plan. I don't want to deny that. But he has no idea of โ€‹โ€‹the usefulness of a business plan for business development. A lawyer certainly has a lot of knowledge about contract law or similar. But he has no idea what customer op partner benefits are created through it. For example, a sophisticated partnership contract creates and how many business partnerships have already lost their way in the run-up to the paragraph jungle.

So you need the self-confidence to do things whose consequences you cannot see down to the last detail. And regardless of what everyone else says. Except for the others, who have already successfully mastered the same things, one should listen to them very carefully!

It's also important to understand that confidence isn't something that comes naturally, it's something that develops. And in the positive as well as in the negative direction. And, most importantly, we must also distinguish between two types of self-awareness. I call it static and dynamic self-awareness, borrowing from Carol Dweck.

What is it about?

I would like to tell you an example from my life: I was always the best in mathematics at school. Since I let this fact get to me and didn't suppress it, I developed quite a lot of self-confidence and a high level of security in mathematics.

Then, I went to university to study computer science. At that time, the course consisted to a large extent of mathematics. Suddenly, I wasn't the best anymore and didn't solve all the tasks in my sleep. I didn't even know all the characters the professor wrote on the blackboard. Although my skills remained at least the same. I was suddenly insecure and my self-confidence suffered.

That was the static self-awareness. Static self-confidence comes from a static, natural talent. Since the abilities are not very changeable for this self-concept, the static self-confidence depends above all on the requirements and the environment.

The only way to keep increasing this self-confidence is, to make sure that the demands don't increase by moving to appropriate environments. Or even to evade the increasing demands completely. So I'm cutting myself off from growth! My consequence was, of course, there were a few other reasons, to drop out of college. I didn't think I was talented enough, despite being in the top 10%.

That means very clearly: We have to live with the uncertainty of growth, and the price for a perpetual static self-confidence is torpor.

Now, there is a second kind of self-awareness, the dynamic one: Dynamic self-confidence does not result from an awareness of one's mathematical abilities, strengths, and talents. But from the experience, of being able to develop one's abilities in such a way, I learn to master all requirements. This kind of self-confidence even understands the temporary insecurity as part of the process. And the failure isn't a sign of a lack of talent. It's simply the result of not practicing enough. Ultimately, the dynamic way of thinking says goodbye to the concept of "talent".

The difference eventually becomes apparent, when it comes to the static kind of self-confidence, I avoid any challenge. If I'm interested in the dynamic way, then I'm searching for challenges. Only if I keep mastering the new and unknown, I can keep my dynamic self-confidence high.

As entrepreneurs, we need the second kind of self-confidence. And we have to understand, that even if it doesn't always feel confident, it takes occasional insecurities, to attain this style. Incidentally, this self-confidence only partly has something to do with the required self-confidence, when speaking in front of groups. Again, confidence is about doing things even when you feel insecure. The question now is:

How do you develop dynamic self-confidence?

The answer is: By visualizing all the activities and results of my life, in which I have shown this dynamic self-awareness. By consciously reinforcing the emotionally colored memory of it. Writing down 5 points every day strengthens the dynamic self-confidence. Whether these things are big or small, it doesn't matter! All that matters is, whether I had to stretch to reach it and whether I overcame certain insecurity.

The freelancer from before could already write down the first success if he only realizes that all the activities that he has counted out so far are also valuable. The next success would be to address this to the client. And the next success would be to have at least a small part, maybe another 20 hours, appear on the bill per month. And another 20 hours for the next project.

In my mathematics university example, a first success would have been to learn the meaning of the symbols that the professor had used. A next success would have been to solve one of these new tasks, etc.

Successes that matter are always things that we haven't done before. Or on bad days, things that we haven't done on bad days. If we don't have a problem making 10 acquisition calls a day, then we shouldn't write off making 10 calls as a success. But we should write it down if it was 12 or if our partner left us yesterday and we still made 10 calls today.

I know that many days it's hard to get 5 achievements like this together. I have days like that too. But if we don't get these successes together, then it's almost an incentive to tackle 5 specific things the next day, that I can write down as successes in the evening.

This noting of successes is one of the most important points, that I bring to you in this coaching reprogram. If you only have time for one task to perform, then start with this!

Your tasks:

  1. Only one task because it is so important: Write down five achievements, every day!

PS: The next coaching letter for entrepreneurs is about your commitment.

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