Last year, American entrepreneurs started an estimated 800,000 new small businesses. According to data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 160,000 — around 20% — will have failed by the end of their first year. By the end of five years, half will have shuttered. And by the end of a decade, only 266,667 or 33% of these new businesses will have survived.
So why the high failure rate? Putting it simply, people are starting their business without a business purpose. Many people start a company because they are trying to escape from someone else’s dream, theme, or poorly defined idea.They have found a big idea to take to market without identifying what they are trying to accomplish.
Without a specific purpose, your agency — like any other company — is simply adrift, steered by the market conditions surrounding it.
Make the Connection
Connecting big ideas to a purpose isn’t just for those at the top of the company organizational chart. Everyone needs a strong, defined purpose to work toward. It’s the power that drives high-end achievement.
Nowhere was this more evident in my life than when I worked as a dishwasher at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant as an 18-year-old youngster. Mr. Farrell’s purpose for his company was to create memories to last a lifetime through celebrations, birthdays, and anniversaries. He insisted that every employee know that purpose and say it out loud every day.
I became invested and learned how to execute at a level that fulfilled the company purpose and taught me how to create my own. Understanding the power that came from this understanding and having Mr. Farrell as my first mentor resulted in me becoming the youngest franchise owner in just 10 short years.
This principle is the same for business and in life; everything starts with knowing what you want. Once you can answer that question, you can begin down the path to attain it.
Born to Succeed
Some people are born with this sense of purpose and how to achieve it, but they are few and far between (only 3% of the population). Another 10% of people can problem-solve their way to success, but only when opportunities present themselves. The rest (the majority of the population) have no direction and no plan, and often pay the price for it or take from others to try to get ahead.
So, what if you don’t know what you want and find yourself among the majority of people who are spectators watching others succeed, thinking success was not meant for you? Thankfully, you can learn to reprogram your personal GPS setting to get what you could and should have.
- Start with taking an inventory. Figure out what you like to do and — just as importantly — what you don’t enjoy doing. You must discover your labor of love in order to find your big idea.
- Write down your goal. Set a simple goal and start the day-to-day actions to achieve it. Writing it down cements your idea and makes it real.
The difference that sets apart that top tier of successful agent entrepreneurs is that they are focused on their goals, objectives, or life purpose and execute the actions necessary to achieve them.
Nothing will happen until you know what you want — and you are the only one who can decide what that is.
David Ibarra is a managing director for Portfolio, a leading provider of reinsurance and F&I programs, and a nationally recognized leadership consultant, entrepreneur, speaker, and author.
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