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Originally published on Linkedin on 

Perhaps I am missing something, but in many published blog posts that tell me “what successful business owners do every day that make them successful,” I have trouble finding suggestions that I can actually implement. The actionable items that say “do this.”

Wait, sorry… there are plenty of suggestions of what to do…I should accept failure, pick myself up, learn from mistakes, accept that fear is part of the process, try something new, and get plenty of sleep.

Is this the way it is supposed to play out?

Insert dream sequence cloud

Day 237. No new clients. I accept that I have failed. My current marketing efforts have not generated any new leads. I sit down on the floor and accept that fear is part of the process. I accept my fear, I let my fear wash over me, the fear eats into my stomach, my shoulders, my ears. During the anxiety attack I proceed to have on the floor, I realize that I can’t pay the bills with failed attempts and I start to cry, my heart palpitates, I break into a cold sweat and start to shake. I happen to glance at the piece of paper that is clutched in my white knuckled fist. It is the list of things successful people do. I see that now I am supposed to confront my fears.

Curled up in a ball on the floor, I stare fear in the face, which, by the way, has taken the form of a dust bunny under my desk which I don’t have time to clean because I spend too much time accepting failure.

“Damn you fear, I confront you!”

Evil fear bunny stares back at me daring me to back down. I won’t. I stare fear in the face for what seems like forever. Our staring contest continues until I remember the list of things I need to do daily to be a successful business owner. I give evil dust bunny the stink eye, lie on my back and reference my list.

Reflect and learn from my mistakes. For the next hour I think about all the things I have tried to build this business, I ask them what I did wrong, I learn that there are too many potential mistakes and I might as well give up because who knows what will work and what won’t. I turn my head… evil dust bunny is laughing.

My list tells me to pick myself up and try something new. I get up. I decide to check my watch. It is lunch time. I won’t be completely unproductive during this refueling time. Linkedin just emailed me. Someone published “6 things every small business owner must do.” I will read that during lunch and try something new after I eat. Wow! The new article said I should get plenty of sleep. That makes sense. I am utterly exhausted after following my list this morning. I think I will take a nap.

Dream sequence fade out.

The behavior analyst in me tells me that it is time to let go of reflecting, accepting and embracing. It is time to “do.” I am certainly not the first to say it, nor the last, but if I am not “doing” there is no way my business can succeed.

Actionable items from the unsure entrepreneur with a long way to go-

Set clear and achievable goals and objectives for yourself daily-Success is completing what I set out to do.

Rewriting goals if they are not achievable in the time you set out to do them-If you set out to do something that is not realistically achievable and you don’t do it, you have failed. Instead- break down those tasks so that you can complete parts of them. Every day you succeed. Nice!

Set aside specific social media time- “Unproductive?” Sure. Are you doing it anyway? Yep. Give yourself unencumbered free access to social media 2 times a day for 5 minutes. Check in, like, comment, post move on. Do it for 5 minutes at a time. No less, no more.

Shut off social media apps on your phone– Too distracting. Too easy to check while working on a task.

Talk to successful small business owners in social situations– Don’t be afraid to drop the “Boy, growing a business is tough. How do you deal with (insert frustrating issue here).” You would be surprised how much you can learn from someone else while waiting for your kid at a birthday party.

Go home, write down the suggestions made by others, and implement them- You won’t be able to put all those suggestions to good use on Monday morning, but if you break the suggestions down into achievable parts and add them to your daily list, you will end up implementing them.

And so, with that, I leave you to it. I will go and cross off “write a post” on my list. Success! Then I am going to throw evil dust bunny in the garbage. Because that is something I can “do.”

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners. My grandfather was a shoe maker and had his own shop, my dad has owned his own businesses for over 40 years. My grandfather in-law, father and mother in-law owned an appliance store in NYC. My husband owned his own recruitment firm by the age of 28. All of them experienced tough days, hard years, and individual failure, but all of them are/were successful because they woke up every day and “did.”

When I wrote this post, I was months away from leaving everything behind to work as a nature lady at my children’s camp and then work at a local farm and nursery for the rest of 2014. During that time, I explored becoming a teacher, going back to work full time in a school district as a behaviorist, and working at the farm full time. In the end, I chose to give ABAC another go. I would have never believed it then but success was not so far away- It just took me stepping away from it all for awhile and reevaluating what I wanted and what I was willing to do to make it happen. – Adrienne December 11, 2019