Humanity has lived through many uncertain periods in our collective history.
Economic instability, institutional racism, war, famine, environmental disasters, slavery, abject poverty, disease, physical and mental abuse — we’ve seen it all, and we’re still here to tell the tale.
We’re a resilient bunch, it turns out.
The good news? Some of our most game-changing inventions and ideas were born during uncertain times.
We choose the entrepreneur’s life because we actually prefer uncertainty to boring, repetitive, predictable certainty.
Still though … you may feel like your entrepreneurial can-do approach to life and business is being tested right now. (If so — welcome to the club. Most people I know are experiencing this to some degree.)
Let’s look at how we can embrace uncertainty and find our entrepreneurial mojo again.
1. Acknowledge that entrepreneurship is a scary path to take
It’s not a straight path. It’s not a predictable path. But it’s not a boring path, either.
That’s why we take it, right?
If we wanted a reliable, steady job, we wouldn’t have signed up for this journey.
Entrepreneurs feel the fear of the unknown and we march straight toward it. With chins up and smiles on our faces, scanning the horizon, looking for what’s next.
2. Accept that there is no single map to show the way
There are a few fundamentals in business:
- Listen to your prospects and customers, and allow them to guide what you offer (and how you offer it)
- Build products and services that meet their expressed needs — and fulfill their unexpressed desires
- Keep your costs and risk low by delivering a minimal solution and expanding on it based on feedback from customers
For online-based businesses, add these extra steps:
- Build your email list starting today
- Deliver helpful, useful, engaging information to build trust, authority, and traffic
The life of an entrepreneur has too many variables for us to have a single map that works for everyone. How the steps above are implemented and the precise results they’ll achieve is dependent on too many factors to predict the outcome.
And that makes the journey interesting, doesn’t it?
3. Stay open to unexpected results
Life’s twists and turns happen when you least expect them. Just look at public elections and referendums around the world in 2016 in case you need examples.
When you bring it down to a personal level, though, can you think of examples where you set out in a specific direction only to veer off on a tangent that took you to places you couldn’t have imagined?
Here’s a recent example from my life:
- A year ago, I decided to write a book.
- I asked my friend Jeff Goins for advice.
- He said he’d advise me, but we should record the sessions — and the Zero to Book podcast was born.
- On one of the podcast episodes, he shared a story about an author who built a community around his book project.
- I built The Book Factory — a community of 900+ beta readers.
- The book launched to great reviews — many of them from members of the community.
It was a long and winding road that took me in directions I didn’t anticipate. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
When you try to spell out your path in advance, you may miss the random miracles that happen along the way.
So set a direction — but then stay open to what appears along your path as you march ahead.
4. Recognize that you make the map as you walk the path
You’re reading this post because I recently heard a line in a song I hadn’t heard in many years. It’s in Spanish (don’t worry: translation below). My favorite line in the song says:
“Caminante, no hay camino — se hace camino al andar.”
Which translates to:
“Traveler, there is no path — you make the path as you walk it.”
(It’s more poetic in Spanish!)
Here’s how I interpret this:
Your actions — your steps forward — move you along your path. But you don’t know where the path is until you walk it.
The only way to find the path is to walk the path.
So despite uncertain times and our own shaky faith, the only way we can find our way is to move forward.
The only way to discover your path is to walk it, step by courageous step.
5. Appreciate that the path is as individual as the people who walk it
Be honest: would you really want to be handed a prescribed course of action where all you had to do was implement it?
The path is more interesting when you appreciate your own individual twists and turns.
Your twists will be different from mine. You write your story with every step you wander up, down, and sideways (those sideways steps are the best, aren’t they?).
How to become the hero of your story
What’s a story without conflict and challenges? It’s not a story I’d want to read — and not a story I’d want to live.
The way you become the hero of your personal entrepreneurial journey is to face down challenges and persevere.
This is the common thread I’ve seen woven through all the Hero’s Journey stories I’ve featured here on Copyblogger.
Uncertain times happen to all of us. Our paths aren’t prescribed or predictable. Even so, we walk ahead — embracing uncertainty and forging our paths like the heroes we are.
What’s your hero’s journey?