By the early 1990’s Richard Branson was facing a serious problem.
About six years earlier, he was in the midst of launching a new startup idea… Virgin Atlantic Airlines!
A business that big is not easy to get off the ground (no pun intended). By the 90’s the new venture was facing serious cash flow issues that put its entire future in jeopardy.
To get through them he took action that few entrepreneurs would ever have the “you-know-whats” to do.
He sold his record company, Virgin Records to EMI-Thorn for a billion dollars in 1992.
Now if cashing in a billion dollar windfall doesn’t sound like an unsettling move, remember he was giving up a successful company to save a struggling start-up!
The rest of that story is history. Virgin Atlantic went on to become a major player in the trans-Atlantic flight market.
No matter what obstacles he faced in his legendary career, Sir Richard always found a way to overcome them. And the success he has experienced since is a testimony to that.
Facts Of Business Life
Every entrepreneur, without exception, will face obstacles on their path to success. And the bigger your goals… the bigger the obstacles you’ll face.
The bigger challenges. The greater the potential costs. The more daunting the risks.
But obstacles aren’t “problems” for entrepreneurs. They’re facts of life. They’re expected. In some cases they’re even welcomed.
Because just on the other side of those obstacles is where your most explosive business growth is hiding…
…And the bigger the obstacle the bigger the ultimate payoff.
Finding ways to overcome them is what successful entrepreneurs do. My friend and mentor Mark Ford says he loves obstacles. Because he says that’s where he leaves his competition in the dust.
That’s the way super-successful entrepreneurs like Mark think. The bigger, the more intimidating the obstacle you’re facing, the greater the payoff will be in the end. The greater the prestige. The greater the distance you put between you and your competition. The greater your financial success.
Think about it…
What would make Richard Branson sell a billion dollar company but the promise of something even greater than what he was sacrificing?
Your goal shouldn’t be to avoid obstacles. It should be knowing how to OVERCOME them.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t look for the “easy” road. They look for the “profitable” road. And the most profitable paths are littered with obstacles.
It’s only your ability to overcome obstacles that gives you any kind of advantage in whatever business you’re in.
Where resources aren’t available, the best entrepreneurs fall back on their resourcefulness. They find a way over, under, around or through whatever is standing in their way.
And like I said, the bigger the better.
When you’re faced with a big obstacle, don’t cower from it. Confront it. Do whatever you have to to conquer it. Because your payoff down the road will likely be immense.
Of course there are some obstacles that are harder to overcome.
The Obstacles That Aren’t Obstacles
In fact, they’re practically IMPOSSIBLE to deal with. Because you don’t know they’re there. They’re the obstacles that hide in your blind spots.
You see there are essentially two different types of obstacles entrepreneurs face.
External obstacles vs. “externalized” obstacles.
What’s the difference?
- Obstacles (that actually are obstacles) are external barriers to achieving whatever it is you’re after.
- Costs – possibly prohibitive costs – of certain things you may need to accomplish your goals…
- Cash shortfalls that require emergency actions…
- Geographic considerations of getting a business venture off the ground…
- Production capacity of suppliers or manufacturers that you might employ…
All of these (and more like them) are legitimate obstacles.
They’re outside factors that stand squarely between you and whatever you’re after.
“Externalized” obstacles on the other hand, are something completely different (and far more dangerous).
They’re the “obstacles” that entrepreneurs who struggle and fail are all too willing to give into.
The “obstacles” that actually do kill businesses – often before they’ve even had a chance to get started.
The “obstacles” that pose a greater threat to your long term success, financial well being and all around happiness than almost anything else.
They’re the obstacles that YOU create!
Let me explain…
Your “Externalized” Obstacles
When you create externalized obstacles you’re effectively projecting the cause of any obstacle you face out onto the world around you. You’re making YOUR issues about something or someone outside of you.
You say things like:
“I never get a decent break.” (As if “big breaks” are just floating around bumping in to entrepreneurs…)
“I can’t get other people to JV with me.” (My product’s good. Other entrepreneurs should want to offer it to their crowds….)
“I can’t get more traffic to my site or visitors to my blog.” (The people in my niche are so stubborn…)
“I don’t have enough capital to start my business.” (Success in what I want to do is only possible with a certain amount of money…)
You say these things to describe the obstacles you’re facing. But here’s a cold, harsh slap in the face.
All success is a matter of choice.
Whenever you talk about an obstacle like that, what you’re really saying is “I choose not to do whatever would give me these things.”
When you say “I never get a break” you’re really saying “I choose not to do whatever’s necessary to cause a break in my life.”
When you say “I can’t get anyone to partner with me” you’re really saying “I choose not to create an offer that would make a potential partner want to JV with me.”
When you say “I can’t get more traffic to my blog” you’re really saying “I choose not to do the things I need to, to get more visitors to my blog.”
When you say “I don’t have enough money to get started” you’re really saying “I choose not to look for options that would cost me less.”
When you externalize obstacles, you’re simply playing a language game. If you can rephrase your obstacle as a personal choice then it’s not a real obstacle. (For example, you can’t really say “I choose for my suppliers to not deliver on time.”)
Everything you have and have accomplished you achieved because of the things you did or didn’t do. And you did or didn’t do them because of the choices you made.
Is this starting to sink in? You use language to externalize obstacles. To blame your struggles on anyone and anything but you!
An Exercise To Determine The Obstacles You’re Facing…
So are which of your obstacles are external and which are “externalized”?
Here’s a quick exercise: Take a minute or two right now to reflect and write down five of the biggest obstacles that are keeping you from achieving your really BIG goals:
Now look at those five obstacles you wrote down and ask yourself honestly…
If you took ten entrepreneurs who were trying to achieve the same goal, launch the same business, create the same product as you are, would they come up against some version of the same obstacles you wrote down?
Here are the rules for answering: If you’re sure they’d face the same obstacle, then check the “Yes” box. BUT… if you don’t know or can’t be sure, choose “No”. And be brutally honest when you’re answering these.
Obstacle #1: Yes [ ] No [ ]
Obstacle #2: Yes [ ] No [ ]
Obstacle #3: Yes [ ] No [ ]
Obstacle #4: Yes [ ] No [ ]
Obstacle #5: Yes [ ] No [ ]
OK. Any place you checked “Yes” is likely an external obstacle. Congratulations! You know what you’re dealing with.
On the other hand, any place you checked “No” means they’re NOT real obstacles. But rather some “externalized” creation of your own that you let get in your way.
How’d you do? Share what you discovered from this exercise in the comment section below.
Once You Know What You’re Dealing With…
…You’ll have a clearer idea of what you need to do.
Whether the obstacles you’re facing are external or simply externalized, you’ll know what actions you have to take to break through to truly explosive growth.
If you want see the upside of overcoming obstacles, download this free strategic briefing now. It’ll show you how a strategic approach to overcoming both kinds of obstacles can multiply your results by 10x, 30x and even 400x!