Overcoming the 6 Obstacles to Building Your Ideal Business

Figuring out your strengths, positioning, and messaging is key to building a business that’s truly aligned with your purpose. But turning that vision into reality comes with its share of internal challenges.

[Full Transcript]

Figuring out your strengths, positioning, and messaging is key to building a business that’s truly aligned with your purpose. But turning that vision into reality comes with its share of internal challenges.

  1. How do you stay true to that purpose?
  2. How do you stay on track when things get really hard?
  3. How do you make sure that you’re thinking clearly and not making reactive decisions?
  4. How do you keep yourself focused on the things that actually matter?
  5. How do you consistently solve problems that keep other people stuck?
  6. How do you communicate your ideas in a way that gets through to the people you’re trying to influence?

Luckily, just being aware of these potential sticking points can go a long way toward overcoming them.

Obstacle 1: Being Out of Sync With Your Sense of Purpose

Building a business takes a massive amount of energy and dedication. Without a sense of purpose and calling to tap into, it can feel impossible to maintain the drive necessary to stay focused over the long haul.

Purpose (as I define it) is the culmination of how you’re meant to contribute to the world and authentically express yourself as a unique individual. Think of it as the sum result of all the attributes and elements that make up your nature—your talents, skills, interests, quirks, and strengths. All of these integrate to make up the theme of “you.” The more you’re able to live in integrity with that theme, the more authentic your life becomes, and the more alive, joyful, and fulfilled you feel.

A clear sense of purpose is the heart of your unique offering (strengths), competitive advantage (positioning), and your strategic narrative (messaging). If you want to feel truly inspired by your work every day, it’s critical to stay aligned with your purpose, follow your calling, and trust your intuition.

Obstacle 2: Quitting Too Early or Too Often

In the past, one of my own biggest obstacles was being stuck in a never-ending cycle of starting and quitting. I would begin a creative project (or even launch a business), completely inspired and feeling on top of the world. Then, as soon as I’d hit a roadblock, I’d start second-guessing myself. Eventually, the internal dialogue of “this won’t work” would override all my enthusiasm, and I’d start over with a “better” idea—only to repeat the process again.

I lacked the resilience needed to push through the low points and stay focused on a project long enough to bring it to life.

Resilience is raw energy that you tap into by aligning your actions with some kind of meaningful purpose. To be resilient means that you’ve gotten clear about your calling, and you use that clarity to concentrate your focus and energy on something that truly matters to you. When you’re resilient, you’ve tapped into a powerful source of motivation that’s driving you to build the business you want to build.

Building your business’s positioning and messaging around your strengths can feel like a leap of faith—a creative act that’s full of optimism at the beginning, but vulnerable to all kinds of internal doubts and fears as you hit the inevitable challenges on your path.

Whether we call it grit, commitment, or resilience doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that your success as an entrepreneur depends on the ability to persevere through obstacles, rejection, and failure so that you stay true to an authentic, meaningful vision for your business.

Obstacle 3: Thinking Reactively

With all the moving parts in a business, it can be hard to think straight sometimes.

Strategic thinking looks very different from the typical day-to-day reactive thought loops many entrepreneurs are stuck in. The key differences between good strategy and the typical use of the word “strategic” are the focus on challenges, specific approach, and actions. True strategy involves taking a step back, honestly assessing the obstacles that stand in the way of your goals, and figuring out specific solutions to those obstacles.

By building your business strategy on core concepts like strengths, positioning, and messaging, it’s easier to avoid getting caught up in reactive thinking. You’re able to think and plan more clearly, guided by these three elements as your foundation to help you take decisive action and make more effective long-term decisions.

Obstacle 4: Spreading Yourself Too Thin

How many times do you find yourself chasing every new opportunity or shiny object, only to then also find yourself struggling to stay focused—flip-flopping between periods of high productivity and complete exhaustion?

Maximizing your impact is all about making conscious choices about what to focus on. It starts with eliminating the 80% of activity that contributes just 20% of your results. Instead, you focus on that sweet spot of the 20% of activity that contributes 80% of your results.

That’s where being clear about your unique offering (strengths), competitive advantage (positioning), and your strategic narrative (messaging) can be invaluable. When all three are aligned, they can guide you right to the 20% of effort that gives you 80% of impact. They help you focus your time, energy, and attention on what really matters, so you can accomplish more without burning out.

Obstacle 5: Solving the Wrong Problems

If you’re always putting out fires, you’ll never actually make much progress toward solving your biggest challenges.

Being a better problem solver isn’t just about embracing problems—it’s about constantly seeking out better problems to solve. That includes solving external problems (your customers’ problems) with your products and services, as well as solving internal problems (sales problems, marketing problems, staffing problems).

Solving these types of external and internal problems is how you create value as an entrepreneur. By identifying the obstacles that stand between you and your vision, you’re able to focus your attention on the actions that will have the greatest impact on your success.

Problem solving is also a critical skill for designing effective business processes, products and services, and marketing strategies. Over time, each of these aspects of your business will inevitably have dozens (maybe even hundreds) of weak links that require new solutions.

In order to overcome these types of challenges, you need to be able to quickly analyze and reframe problems so you can solve them more easily.

Obstacle 6: Lack of Influence

It’s impossible to build a successful business without the ability to express your ideas in a way that connects with your customers, prospects, or employees.

Influence isn’t pushing people to do something, or hard-selling them, or exerting force or domination over others. True influence is about serving. It’s the ability to drive change by aligning with people’s intrinsic motivations.

The ability to influence others isn’t a single trait, but a collection of skills that come together in various ways depending on the situation, including selling, negotiating, active listening, critical thinking, empathy, and emotional flexibility. These core skills of influence are where the rubber hits the road in your business. In order to translate your strengths into clear positioning, and then into effective messaging, it’s critical to be able to clearly communicate these ideas so that you can move others to take action.

In my next few posts, I’ll dive deeper into each of these obstacles, and share ideas to help you overcome them.

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