Many aspiring entrepreneurs give up too early when presented with obstacles along their path. They get discouraged and forget the small wins they’ve accumulated over time. The road can feel long and tedious to an aspiring entrepreneur. What they fail to realize, is the amount of effort it takes to birth a business unto the world and as a result—throw in the towel too soon.
Often scolded for being selfish, impatient, or too focused on instant gratification, many business-minded Millennials are succeeding in the marketplace. Despite what some may think, Millennials can be relentless in their determination to impact the world—and bring attention to causes that matter most.
Meet Jonathan Maxim and Kale Panoho, two successful Millennial startup entrepreneurs who have teamed up to create K&J Growth Hackers, a digital marketing agency. Both Panoho and Maxim have experienced challenge and frustration and know first-hand, the struggles of building a business.
Kale Panoho is a personal trainer who recently opened up a gym in New Zealand which welcomed $202,000 in 14 days. Fired from his job a year ago, Panoho had to push through blaming others for his circumstances, and take responsibility for his future.
Jonathan Maxim is a graphic designer turned Fortune 50 marketer from Comcast, who applied his passion for fitness to create Vea Fitness, an app that rewards users for working out. He hacked his tech startup to over $100K in free marketing for its launch and now employs a diverse team of 12.
Maxim left his day job, making almost $200k, and invested all the money he had saved to buy a home—toward his startup. Little did he know the difficulty of the journey which lay ahead.
I decided to sit down with these two growth hackers for some insight to address a few of the core issues which may be causing you, and many others, to discount the small wins you’ve already accumulated along your entrepreneurial path.
1. Comparing yourself to others
At the heart of your frustrations may be the daily stress of comparing your progress to peers and influencers. It’s important to understand that it’s normal to experiences this inner conflict—wondering if you’re good enough or if you’ve done enough.
“We’re often baffled by the ‘highlight reel’ of others,” says Panoho. “When you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s successes you’re missing all of the failures, day-to-day disasters, setbacks and struggles that they are undoubtedly going through.”
How many times have you compared your life to those on social media? Maxim says that everyone goes through periods of struggle, but the key is to start small, hit low targets, gain confidence, and use those wins to gain emotional momentum.
2. Expecting too much at the start
Whether you’re placing unrealistic expectations on yourself or feeling pressure from family and friends—doubt can wreak having on your mindset. For many of you, wondering if your business is growing fast enough can be a considerable source of tension.
Businesses take years to grow, and there’s no way around this fact. Your best course of action is to develop a 5-10 year plan to build your business into one that is sustainable for the long-term. There is no denying that it can be hard to ignore the feedback from those closest to you—but you must be able to stand your ground and stay the course. Panoho says, “A lot of people tell you what can’t be done out of their fear or insecurity, even if it’s well-meaning, or for your safety.”
Money is another point of pressure. It can feel discouraging to lack the finances to afford specific business resources, care for daily costs of living, and even hire the right mentor to guide you on your journey.
“This comes back to how much failure and adversity you’re willing to endure.” Panoho ensures that it is not beneath you to put your dreams on hold for awhile until you have what you need to proceed. Sometimes this is a harsh reality one needs to take a look at to assess next steps.
With regards to affording a mentor, Panoho says, “Learn where your mentors are the busiest and find a way to apply your free time to solving that problem and exchange your time for their mentorship.” Without a doubt, this method is highly underutilized by entrepreneurs today. What value can you offer someone you admire? Take charge of your life and commit to bringing as much value as can to someone you look up to—you may be pleasantly surprised to see what opportunities open up.
3. Focusing on too much, too soon
If you want to become successful, it’s imperative that you set small goals. Your smaller goals lead to more significant milestones. You should be clear on what you are working to achieve. Many aspiring entrepreneurs use terms like “grinding” and “hustle.” Whatever those words mean is up to you—just make sure you’re taking necessary action to get results.
Maxim says it’s easy to become busy with marketing and can be a massive time waster—taking the form of social media engagement, Instagram postings, reading news articles and more. He says, “choosing one KPI and sticking to it is the most efficient way to grow. In the case of Vea Fitness, I have a set download goal for every month. If I miss it, I know I’m the only person to blame.”
4. Lacking a daily routine
The discipline to have healthy habits beyond hustling is something that Maxim has always struggled with but is gaining momentum on lately. He has a planned morning routine—which includes meditation, push ups, air squats, coffee, reading, and a healthy protein shake—and hard stopping points for work. A healthy lifestyle routine will keep your energy high, your mindset clear, and your focus on-target with the tasks at hand. “You have to set your barriers—no one else will do this for you,” Maxim says.
5. Failing to commit to the hard work
Many find it difficult to do the hard work needed to build a business. Hard work includes tasks which generate systems, organization, management, sales, income, and processes. There tends to be a lot of fear around these areas because they can require skills outside of your comfort zone. As an entrepreneur, you may find it extremely uncomfortable and dislike feeling unqualified or powerless over specific areas of your business—but as Panoho insists, “the hard work is the work that brings the greatest yield.”
When I asked Maxim why he feels so many entrepreneurs struggle with the more rewarding aspects of business growth, he shared, “talk tends to make us feel more comfortable—which explains why many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on social media, thinking they’re driving business.” In many cases, networking does drive business. But, it misleads our mind into thinking that progress is occurring—when in fact no real progress is made.
Maxim shares honestly, “It’s a delicate balance between talking with friends, building last connections, and doing actual work.” He finds that the best balance for staying connected with high caliber people and making measurable business progress is 80% task and project work along with 20% interacting and being social.
It takes a whole lot of grit to start, build, and sustain a business—so make sure you celebrate every small win along the way.