Chasing opportunity

Photo credit: Disney Pixar Studios

In case you haven’t seen it, in the Disney Pixar movie Up dogs are depicted as easily distracted creatures that will stop in mid sentence (yes, they talk in the movie – but only due to the ingenuity of an inventor who fits them with special collars. But I digress…) at the slightest distraction – usually a squirrel. It’s a cute movie, a funny shtick, and a perfect metaphor for many entrepreneurs.

One of the greatest things about being an entrepreneur and owning your own business is that you can do whatever you want. And one of the most challenging things about being an entrepreneur and owning your own business is… that you can do whatever you want. When you have a job, you generally have a job description and some standard methods of operation that you’re obliged to follow. While this can be stifling to some, it can also make decision making pretty easy. There are certainly many jobs where a person’s own judgment comes into play, but there’s almost always a right and wrong way to do things.

As an entrepreneur, there is no “right” way to run your company. Your way is the right way. It might not be successful, but there’s no one in a position of authority to tell you you’re doing it wrong. For many business owners, this is downright terrifying. If there isn’t any way to know for sure what’s wrong and what’s right, there’s a good chance you could be going down the wrong path and not find out until it’s too late. So for many, they start out knowing exactly what they want their business to be, and then – SQUIRREL! Something comes up – some opportunity, idea, input from a colleague, etc. – that causes them to take their eyes off their original goal and wonder if that should be the direction in which they should head.

Perfection is Elusive

I’ve known people who have started and stopped three, four, even five businesses within a year’s time! Their hearts are always in the right place – they think they’re progressing by moving in a new direction. But in the end, they end up back at square-one each time, and still not 100% sure they’re doing the right thing. And therein lies the problem. Some people have a need to be 100% sure – for everything to line up perfectly and for there to be no doubts.

If you’re one of those people, I’ve got some bad news: It’s not going to happen. There is no business, program, or method of doing business that’s 100% perfect. And you’re bound to have some doubts along the way. It’s simply part of being an entrepreneur. The key is to have your doubts, recognize the imperfections, and proceed toward your goal anyway. Sure, making adjustments as you go is prudent, but completely changing your course should be something that happens only when you’ve exhausted your possibilities with your current course.

Learning from Achievers

Through interviewing and reading about many entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve recognized that the one thing they’ve all had in common, more than anything else, is a relentless drive to achieve their primary aim, no matter what. They aren’t easily distracted; they refuse to stray off course; and they refuse to give up. For many of these achievers, there is no doubt that other opportunities were presented to them along the way. They’re usually the type of people who everyone wants to partner with or wants involved in their venture somehow. But they didn’t allow themselves to get pulled away from their dream. They kept working toward succeeding at one thing, until they achieved success. Then, often times, they moved on to another entrepreneurial adventure. But only once they had done what they originally set their mind to accomplish.

Realize that while in many respects it’s true that life is short, there’s plenty of time to accomplish a lot in this life. Look at serial entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, who have started a number of companies and organizations in a wide range of industries. Great ideas and opportunities will always be around. So strive toward fulfilling your current passion and purpose, and then, if you choose, move on to the next achievement, and give that your full attention and effort. In the end, you’ll feel far more satisfied having met your goals and reached your dreams. And then you’ll have plenty of time for chasing squirrels!

Do you find yourself “chasing squirrels?” How do you stay on track and focused on your objectives? Share your thoughts below.