Overcoming the struggles of entrepreneurship

I am a born and raised businessman, growing up in a family of small business owners. My parents own a winery, one of my brothers owned his own computer repair store, one was a DJ and the other was attending business school; so you can say that I have been around small-medium businesses ever since I was a baby.

Because I got to see my parents struggling to make ends meet, and my DJ brother going bankrupt, I learned at a very young age that being an entrepreneur is not easy. Being a successful entrepreneur usually means freedom. Freedom to spend more time with your family, freedom to have more than enough money to spend, freedom to travel, freedom to do what you enjoy doing, and freedom to live in the zone.

However, freedom has a cost, and most entrepreneurs are not willing (or unable) to pay that cost. The cost is not financial, but emotional. The emotional cost of achieving success varies from person to person and business to business. One is rarely similar to the other; when working for someone else you feel safe—but not free, and when you work for yourself, you often feel liberated but not safe; this is similar to when wild animals are kept safe at the zoo.

Starting your own business is easy, persisting and succeeding as a business owner is not. You may come across hard times, whether it's financial trouble, legal issues or other problems that threaten the future success of you and your business. So how do you deal with these problems? What do you have to do to survive them, and how will you conquer the challenges that your business faces during its darkest hour? These tips may help you deal with your current situation, regardless of what it is:

Tip 1: Be Grateful

Yes, I know—this is not another one of those "think positive" statement that teach you to put on your rosy glasses and see everything as sweet, pink and fluffy; no—however, it is true that the most successful people in the world are people who are grateful for what they have and of the cards they hold in life. When I lost my companies and real estate holdings in 2008 I was a wreck; I couldn't believe my luck, when I spoke to my mentor he said something I'll never forget: "You have no problems." I didn't understand. When inquiring further he revealed a truth I had failed to see with my own eyes. "You have eyes, don't you?" he asked. There are more than 3 million legally blind men and women in the United States of America alone, and most of them learn (in time) to deal with their misfortune and move on with their lives. "You have your arms and legs," he continued. "19% of the citizens of the USA cannot walk, did you know that?" I honestly didn't; I quickly learned I didn't really have any problems;

I had so many assets in my life that I was unaware of, I ended up not appreciating them. Only until you lose a leg, arm or an eye will you begin to realize how lucky you were before; 300,000 people died in a tsunami, 3,500 died from disasters in China, people in Israel are being bombed on a daily basis, people of Gaza have no food or water, children in Africa are born without limbs, some are raised with guns between the ages of five and seven years old. People die from diseases, lack of food, lack of pure water, and are struggling every day to survive, while I worry about my bank account, sitting in an air conditioned room with a $3,000 suite, complaining about money.

Today, I am grateful for having my health and the assets that I have, today I regained most of my wealth, and I got out of a bad situation simply because I started to look at things differently. I still cared, I still wanted to be a success, but I learned that it is all a game, and the more "attempts" we make towards success the better players we become.

The only way you can learn to achieve, is if you learn to appreciate the little things: do you have a family that loves you?—if so, use their love to help you through the tough times, use their support to guide you and help you get over difficulties you encounter in your business. Are you an entrepreneur? This may seem like a dumb question, but it is a serious one, if you are an entrepreneur and you made the decision to start your own business you are one of a kind: 95% of the wealth on planet earth is in the hands of entrepreneurs and business owners, so you can consider yourself lucky to have the brains and the guts to go out there and make it on your own… most people just burry their heads in the sand, ignoring the fact that their income is in the hands of someone like you and me.

In conclusion, you are lucky because you have so much. When you wake up in the morning try counting off the things you are grateful for, like all of the things you own (both material and non-material). You will see that the challenges you face as an entrepreneur really are not that bad, in fact, you are lucky to face these challenges, and once you overcome them you will be a better player, after all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Tip 2: Love it

If you study every wealthy and successful person in the world, you will discover that they all have one thing in common: they all love what they do. I know that if you are already an entrepreneur and you are reading this, you are doing so because you face challenges, or maybe you are reading this before you go out and start your own business; if that's the case, take it from me—if you do what you love you will have a bigger chance at success. The "struggles" will not be "struggles" anymore, but challenges, and everybody loves a challenge, right?

A. If you do what you love, you do what you understand: risk comes from a lack of knowledge, that's it—the only thing that affects the amount of risk, is the amount of knowledge you have about what it is you are doing. Freedom will always be risky to an extent, you can eliminate this risk by doing what you love, because if you love wine, you know a lot about it; I don't know a single person who loves something and doesn't take the time to study about it; therefore, the more you love what you do, the less risk involved. If I try to fly a commercial airplane I am exposing myself to 199% risk (if I can ever get it off the ground in the first place), but someone who has been flying commercial planes for 35 years will do it with his eyes closed, and he will have a 5% risk. So, if you love it = you understand it and that means less risk.

B. If you do what you love, you will never quit; no matter what happens to you and what difficulties you may encounter, nothing will be able to stop you, because you love it so much you will never stop doing it. Think about it, if scuba diving is your life's passion, but you ignore this passion and try and be a stock broker, that wouldn't make any sense. Maybe you'll make a few bucks, but it will not last, and when tough times come your way (and they always do), you will quit. However, if you made the intelligent decision of starting your own scuba diving school, or selling underwater photos and videos via a website or other channels, then you made the right decision. You will make much more money than being a stock broker, and you will never quit if financial issues come your way, lawsuits, or any other challenge that an entrepreneur may experience. You will survive, you will persist, and you will not stop because you enjoy it so much!.

One final example, I love to play golf, and I have a friend who can't stand the thought of it. I invited him over for a game once (even though I am not very good at it) and we played with a few other friends. The course was empty and we were able to enjoy ourselves, but my friend who hated gulf wouldn't stop complaining. Throughout the game he constantly looked at his watch. He was restless, hated where he was, and for him, every minute was as good as an hour. For those of us who enjoyed the game, the hours passed like seconds, and we were disappointed when it was over. The lesson here is that you must do what you love if you ever plan to be successful, and if you accomplish this one simple thing, then the challenges of entrepreneurship will be a pleasure to deal with, not a headache.

Tip 3: Never Quit

In 2005, when I was just 20 years old, I started looking for real estate properties to purchase for no money down, since I had no money myself. I ended up finding one home, owned by an old man who was not even living there, his kids had sent him to a nursing home and his house remained vacant for a few months. I had my eye on this property for a while, and when I decided to start my own real estate business and begin buying properties I decided to make this man an offer. Since I didn't know how to reach the owner of the house, I called his son, who was working in a General Motors factory in Fort Wayne. The man was very unpleasant but when I approached him, asking to buy the house, he was immediately interested in selling. Since I had no money, I tried to approach him with a no-money-down deal. I asked if he could carry a note for 20% while I would get 80% from the bank, but he refused. I asked again if I could arrange seller financing for the remaining 20%, and he refused again. He was very difficult to work with. I kept going for two months; I called him every Tuesday at about 12:00 and asked if he was willing to sell the house. I persisted until it got to a point where he threatened to call the cops if I didn't stop calling.

About a week later I was sitting outside the house, trying to visualize what it would look like after I bought it—what I would do with it, how I would paint it, what type of fence to install in the backyard (needless to say, I love real estate)—when I noticed an old man (the owner of the house) getting out of a car and being escorted into the house by a nice old lady. I immediately greeted him and explained that I was interested in buying his home. He agreed. He signed a note and gave me the 20% that was supposed to be a down payment, as a loan for five years; he was an old man (in his early 80's), and the house was in great shape. I rented it out to a tenant in less than two weeks after buying it, and I still own it to this day. The moral of this story is that I was persistent, I refused to quit and this mentality served me well when I got into some troubles three years later when the real estate market crashed.

This last example involves a man, let's call him Ed. Back in the late 1800's Ed paid every cent he had to purchase what he thought was a gold mine in Canada. He placed the mine down as collateral for a loan and began digging. Weeks had passed and he found nothing, another month passed, and he still found nothing. The banks were coming down on him hard because he couldn't afford to pay off the loan. Ed was now in big trouble. A young man came by one day and offered to check the area and create a scientific report. This report would be able to tell Ed if he had any chance of finding gold in his mine; Ed was very interested, but when he heard the price that the young man offered, he refused to pay even though he could afford it. Ed thought it was best to save his money in order to pay off the loan. After two more months of operation, he decided to stop digging and put the mine up for sale. The young man who offered to check the ground heard of this new turns of events and decided to buy the mine. He later purchased it as a piece of land since gold was never found there. Ed lost everything, and went bankrupt. He sold the mine for next to nothing, and all his possessions were lost; the new mine owner kept digging, and four days (yes, days) later, found gold worth millions of dollars.

Learn the lesson—be smart, and don't be so eager to quit when facing a challenge.

Tip 4: Failure doesn't exist

What is failure? The dictionary defines it as: "Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective." So in fact, what the dictionary defines as failure is something that we, as entrepreneurs, are dealing with every single day—"attempts" at success. The phrase to pay attention to here is "state or condition"; failure is, in fact, a state of mind. If you think you failed, you already have—that is the basic rule of failure. When banks are after you, and your business faces big trouble, you haven't failed... yet. But, when you decide to call it quits, then you have failed. Each and every one of us has a failure bar; this bar indicates how close we are to giving up and calling it quits. To me, failure was always an excuse for quitting, the fact of the matter is—if you don't quit, you won't fail. The best way to look at is to replace the word "failure" in our minds with the word "attempt."

When Edison attempted to create the light bulb, he "failed" 10,000 times before finally succeeding. In the entrepreneur game, 10,000 no's and a yes means yes. And that is the most important thing I've adopted into my personality during the last few years. I learned that there is no such thing as failure. When you think you are about to "lose" or "fail" look at it as a simple numbers game. The more times you attempt, the greater your chances of success are. So, forget about this word called "failure."

Tip 5: Wear your "Negativity Helmet" at all times

When I was a kid, I watched my dad go through some rough times with his company. His business partner had stabbed him in the back and ran off with half a million dollars of the company's money. The banks, along with suppliers and vendors to whom he owed money, were putting a lot of pressure on him. There is nothing worse than when a client is browsing through your store and the repo-man comes in to take away your cash-register. When I walked into his office I saw my dad almost depressed, with a mountain of bills and paperwork on the table. He told me (since I was five years old I can't remember the exact words I said) that I had told him to put on the "bad helmet," an imaginary helmet that blocked all the bad things from going into his head. Now, when I think about it, that was some pretty freaking smart advice from a five year–old kid. Today I still use this metaphor, but I call it the negativity helmet; there is no worst hell than the hell you create with your own mind.

What's the difference between Donald Trump, who owed about 9 billion dollars to the banks back in the early 90's and other developers (some were richer than Trump at the time) who owed less, and yet went under? The difference is the amount of crap these people allow to enter into their own minds. Your mind is a temple, and you must be careful what you let in to your temple. The Negativity Helmet protects you from all these bad thoughts. Just put the helmet on your head, close your eye and imagine all those negative thoughts hit the helmet and bounce back into space; I know it sounds silly, but it works. Try it. Then, afterwards, start coming up with solutions to your problem. Learn to always focus on the solution, and not the problem.

Last Tips: Change your questions and your vocabulary

Imagine you are in a debate in front of millions of people, voicing your opinion regarding something that you are passionate about, when your opponent says "I am not sure that this is the right information." How would you feel? (Well, this is a debate, so I guess it's not a big deal, he is allowed to voice his opinion, right?) What if he says, "That's bogus!" How would you feel then? What happens if he continues and says, "You are a liar! Stop lying!" You would be raging with emotions even though he said the same exact thing, but used different words.

Learn to change your words, the brain influences how we feel based on the words we hear and speak. Changing your vocabulary will enable you to think more clearly and see the situation as it really is, a situation in time—that's it! In every one of us there is a winner and a loser, and they both have a voice. There is only one who can control the volume of their voice, and that's you. They speak whenever you are in a good or bad situation; the question is, who will you listen to? The loser uses words like "Never," "You failed," "Just quit," or "What's the point?" And the winner uses words like "Fix it!" "Do it," "Don't Quit!" or, "I want to achieve it, go for it!

" Instead of saying: "I'm going through some problems right now," simply say: "I am going through a test right now." Doesn't it make you feel different? If you really thought of your business challenges as a test to prove your strengths would you react differently? Would you think and behave differently than if you thought of them as "problems"? Instead of letting the loser inside you say: "I'm screwed! Everything is a disaster!" Simply let the winner inside you say: "This is the time to prove myself, that I can do this thing!" Remember, it is the winner inside you that encouraged you to open your business in the first place.

Instead of saying: "I am losing," simply say, "I am attempting to succeed." The questions you ask also have an effect on you. Your brain (like software) will find an answer to any question you ask it, so if you ask dumb questions you will receive a dumb answer. Instead of asking: "What did I do to deserve this?" Simply ask, "What can I do to fix it?" Instead of asking: "Why does it always happen to me?" Ask, "How can I avoid it in the future?"

In conclusion: you are responsible for your own state, your own mind, your own life, and your own business. If you ever plan to be a successful entrepreneur you have to be able to deal with difficult situations, these tips will not solve the problem, but they will help you look at the problem from a different vantage point, and enable you to get solutions instead of just complaining about how bad it is. An entrepreneur‘s life can be tough—deal with it, or go back to your job.

Usher Morgan is the owner of The Morgan Organization, a real estate holding and Investment Company in New York, in addition, Usher Morgan owns a book publishing firm and a business development company in New York City; he is a born entrepreneur with a lifetime experience in business and success achievement. He is currently in the midst of releasing From Rats To Riches: The story of the 25 years old millionaire, which will be released by Library Tales Publishing on May 23rd, 2011.

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