I open with the 'think twice' subject not to scare anyone from taking a leap of faith, but I say that because we are often inundated with inspirational books and articles telling us to go for our dreams. I LOVE this, but I also think it only fair to lay out the truth. See, I 100% support anyone who is pursuing a dream, but I have found over the years that there is a big difference between a dreamer and a do-er. Dreamers are the ones who have grand ideas and see the path easily in front of them, do-ers are the ones that work hard for the idea, then work 10 times as hard doing the research and figuring out a way to make it happen. So, I have listed below the 5 characteristics that I personally believe are a requirement if you are going to take a massive risk and pursue a career dream.
1. Stubbornness - Okay, so hear me out on this one. So, if you are hard-headed, unwilling to value the advice of others, and arrogant enough to believe that you are right, always, then head for the hills now. You will fail many times before finding humbleness. On the other hand, if you are stubborn enough to plow through your challenges, determined to find a solution, determined to prove your naysayers wrong, then you have a leg-up on others.
I remember in my Junior year of high-school, I was way more interested in my career than high-school. I would often cut class and go log more hours at the dance retail store where I was working and very involved. My guidance counselor pulled me aside one day to tell me that I was going to be a failure and with this record would never be successful in a career. Funny enough, his little talk motivated me to 'quit' my high-school and head to the bad-girl school where I could sign in and out as I'd like, finishing my senior year in less than 3 months. This enabled me to carry multiple jobs, while going to school when I could work it around my schedule, including nights. I have still never forgotten that little talk we had, as it has pushed me to prove him wrong, even to this day. Thanks Mr. Nelson!
2. Work ethic - The one thing I hear over and again from entrepreneurs is that they didn't realize how consumed they would be by their careers. I am included in this, although wouldn't trade it for anything. Often, the most successful entrepreneurs are not the smartest, they are the hardest working. I didn't go to an Ivy League school, actually neither of my parents even went to college at all, but I saw them both working their tails off. To be 100% honest, when I am surrounded by other successful people, I sometimes feel a bit uneducated and not well-spoken, but I know if put to the test, I could likely hang with the best of them when it comes to work ethic. I recently read a book by Barbara Corcoran, the Real Estate Mogal on Shark Tank, and she is the walking billboard for what is really possible. She says it over and again in her book and also on the show, she may not consider herself the smartest, but she was darn determined to be the best and she did!
3. Willingness to sacrifice - Before pulling the trigger on your big idea, you need to write down a list of what you are willing to sacrifice for it, literally. How about time with your kids, your life savings, friends, how about time with your spouse? Does your spouse support the idea? As a mom, I do the balance dance just like every other, but I have to make a conscious decision to miss out on a lot of time with my kids. It is painful and often confusing. They grow up so fast, and I certainly don't want any regrets, but it is just a fact that you don't grow a multi-million dollar company while having a bunch of free-time and hanging out with the kids during the week. Every single day is a decision on how to best spend my time to maximize the results, both with family and in business. Maybe you have a business idea that is not full-time, and there is a different way, but so far, for me, this has not been an option.
4. Competitiveness - I can't think of a single successful person that does not have a competitive edge. For me, I am not competitive in a harsh way. I don't wish ill-will on our competitors or even our copy cats, but I do have a pure drive to out-perform them every single day. I firmly believe I would not be where I am today without this. I feel blessed to do what I do, and obligated to our customers and my employees do it better than anyone else.
5. Unselfishness - I think some other successful business people may disagree with me on this one. I have heard many times over that no one is watching out for you except for you. Well, this may be true in many ways, but I have found in life that the moment that you become the focus, the moment that you lose humbleness, and the genuine concern for others is the moment you fall flat on your face with no one around to support you. I started this business with a promise to God that I would use the success he gave me to pay it forward, to honor our customers, and to share my journey. I wouldn't be honest if I said there are not moments when I get completely caught up in running the business that I forget to take a step back, but there is not a moment that goes by that I am not eternally grateful for this opportunity that I have been given. If your only goal is to make millions, in my opinion, you should think twice.
With all of this, I will end with a quote shared by one of my favorite Shark Tank sharks, Lori Greiner, on her facebook page recently. I agree all the way!