Consciousness raising for startup success

    By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

    Asked what business tasks they could do better, "being more efficient" was top on the list of one in five entrepreneurs who responded to a recent national survey of small businesses. A cluttered calendar, daily distractions, and an overwhelming to-do list can keep any busy business owner from succeeding, and time management tips like the ones we shared here last week can help you streamline your schedule.

    An uncluttered mind is key to entrepreneurial success

    But getting control of your time is just one of three steps that business coach Linda Tomb recommends to business owners who seek greater success. Hand-in-hand with clearing the clutter from your calendar goes clearing the clutter from your mind, she says.

    Tomb's consultancy, Unleash Your Business, helps women entrepreneurs "grow a small business into a big business…with heart." In part two of our three-part "Time, Focus, Money" interview with Tomb, she says, "Focus is about taking charge of the thoughts that are occupying your brain. You can work till you drop but still be disappointed if you don't have the right mindset. This is the key to people's success."

    Mental clarity is important for entrepreneurs not just for the sake of completing business tasks on time, but for the sake of ensuring that you're running the business you intended to run and living the life you want, Tomb says.

    What does she mean by that? Tomb explains, "When I begin coaching a new entrepreneur, I walk her through a set of questions designed to eke out her current state of mind." Tomb says she asks, "What do you want your business to be? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Who's in your business? And what's driving you?"

    Not everyone has easy answers to those questions, she says, and it can take months of self reflection to arrive at them. When the knee-jerk response to the latter question is "money," Tomb pushes her clients to dig deeper. "There's always something more than money driving people," she says. Tomb argues that you can create more wealth for yourself when you really know what motivates you.

    "Once you know what you want, we figure out what's stopping you from having it," Tomb says. "Do you believe that you don't know how to lead a business? Do you believe you're not worth what you would need to charge to sustain yourself? Do you think your business has maxed out at its current level? Have you adopted a parent or spouse's belief that it's safer to be on a corporate payroll than to be independent? Do you think that you can't succeed in a down economy?" Tomb says once you shine a spotlight on the belief system that's holding you back, then you can figure out if it's true or not, and get beyond it.

    To those who cite the current recession as their biggest roadblock, Tomb points out the many examples of successful companies that started in economic downturns, including Microsoft, FedEx, GE, HP, and Trader Joe's. "Bad economies are perfect times for entrepreneurs. Necessity is the mother of invention," she says.

    Tomb's guiding principle is a well-known nugget of wisdom: What you focus on is what you get. The idea has been branded with a woo-woo label since it was adapted in the 2006 new-age film, The Secret. But Tomb notes, "The grandfather of this movement is Napoleon Hill, whose famous 1937 book Think and Grow Rich described the formula for success that Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, F.W. Woolworth, and others of the time followed." She adds, "Even Henry Ford famously said, 'Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.' But these ideas go back to the mystics who wrote, 'As you think, so shall you be.'"

    In that sense, Tomb sees her job, in part, as an entrepreneur's consciousness raiser. "It's empowering to consciously choose the thought that you want to have and step forward with that one," she says. She helps each client to craft a mantra or a phrase that can replace old beliefs with a new, improved one, such as, "I can make good money doing what I love," "I am worth $100 an hour," or, "I do have time to pursue my dream." Success can become reality when you have clarified what you want and believe in and focus on your ability to get it, Tomb says. It's as simple as that.

    You can reserve a spot online in Linda Tomb's free May 24 Startup Secrets teleclass, "Time, Focus, Money: The 3-Step Solution to Unleash Your Business."

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