The #1 Trap That Entrepreneurs Fall Into - And How To Avoid It!

Uncategorized Sep 12, 2020

Michael Jordan was a great basketball player. Then he became an owner of a team…but was he a great owner?

The problem is that Michael Jordan the player and Michael Jordan the entrepreneur are two different people.

The skills Michael practiced and honed for years – those same skills that made him so successful on the court — were nowhere near the same skills he needed to be equally successful as an owner.

What Michael fell into was what I call The Trap.

Entrepreneurs fall into “the trap” all the time — believing what got them to where they are now will allow them to keep on killing it no matter what new endeavor they attempt.

They think if they out-work, out-hustle, and out-practice everyone, they’ll come out on top. They think working even harder and longer is the answer to winning. Along with that comes the feeling that they have to prove themselves — continuously.

What these entrepreneurs fail to understand is that being a superstar in the early stages of a company doesn’t mean they have the skills to build a world-class business. 

Yet those early wins as an entrepreneur are exactly what lures them into “the trap”.

They’ve gotten used to winning, and winning has a way of making people want to keep winning. It compels you to seek out more and more challenges, each bigger than the last.

The problem is that even though you were certainly a superstar in the games you played to get yourself and your company to where it is now, you’re not yet a superstar in the games those next and bigger challenges require you to play.

What happens?

You walk onto that new court, feeling like the winner you’ve always been — certain you will win — only to discover you’re a rookie all over again.

It’s frustrating, even terrifying.

One day you’re a hero, the world is yours for the taking. The next day you feel like a has-been with no hope, trapped with a business you just can’t scale, no matter how much you do or how hard you work.

That’s “the trap” — that battle between your ego (your former identity as a winner) and the reality that you’re not winning anymore.

What comes with this new reality is inner shame that you’re the cause. And because you don’t know any other strategies for achieving the next level, you start to work even harder, desperately trying to out-hustle everyone else.

In the process, you become a slave to your business.

Think you’re alone in “the trap”?

Not a chance, and there’s data to prove it.

There are approximately 6,000,000 privately owned businesses with payrolls in the U.S. Of those, only 4% ever generate $1M in revenue in a 12-month period.

The numbers are even more traumatic for female-owned businesses — only 2% of these businesses ever generate $1M in revenue in a 12-month period 

Obviously, the vast majority of entrepreneurs are suffering and it’s because they’re in “the trap” and desperately searching for a way out.

How do entrepreneurs find themselves in “the trap”?

Entrepreneurs not only love to win, but they have a real need to win. If they don’t, they get cranky and nervous.

Being self-reliant and very disciplined, they achieve hero status because of their ability to work harder and stand out from the crowd.

While doing the things that make you a solo standout is great, they are not the same things that will make you a standout as a high-performing entrepreneur building a business.

In short, being that soloist can get your business started, but it won’t help you scale it.

As a result, you find yourself trapped between your ability to be a successful solo player and your inability to build and scale your business.

Why can’t the solo superstar win anymore when it’s time to scale?

Winning in scaling a business requires doing something that can feel very foreign and uncomfortable to the solo entrepreneur: surrounding yourself with other amazing people who are capable of doing amazing things.

In short, recognizing that you can’t do it alone and doing something about it. 

Sounds easy enough, right?

Yet the numbers show that very few entrepreneurs are able to do this.

They may know they need to, but building a superstar team demands a very different skillset. One that must be learned and honed just like you learned and honed the skillset that got you to this point.

But this is not the only new skillset you’ll need to learn if you intend to scale successfully.

Because to be able to surround yourself with amazing people capable of doing amazing things, you must also learn how to become that person others are dying to follow.

That means crafting a vision — what I call a Picture of the Future or PFT — that has so much clarity and is so compelling that others not only understand it but want to follow you to it.

In short, you must learn the skill of making your vision your people’s vision.

Because if your vision is only about you and where you want to take the business, you are still playing the solo superstar and you’re not thinking big enough.

The second skill you must learn is how to get yourself and your team to execute activities better than your competitors. 

In fact, fast, accurate, synchronized execution in every area of a business is a requirement for scaling, competing, and winning.

Without this skill, you can build a team, but it’ll be a team of soloists all stuck in “the trap”.

Meaning each member of your team may have their own wins, but they won’t be wins big enough to scale the business.

Finally, to achieve fast, accurate, synchronized execution, you need a third skill: inner-awareness.

Even more specifically, inner-awareness of your personal impact — how you impact yourself, others, events, and circumstances. 

This level of inner-awareness is what helps you win not just the minds of those amazing people around you, but their hearts.

And winning your people’s hearts is at the core of escaping “the trap”.

How can you tell if you’re in “the trap”?

It can take a long time (too long) to realize you’re in “the trap” — so one of the biggest favors you can ever do for yourself is to learn how to tell if you’re in it faster.

Here’s what being in “the trap” looks and feels like for an entrepreneur trying to scale:  

You’re working extremely hard, but one day you look around and realize that your team isn’t as competitive as you are; they don’t want to win as badly as you do, and they aren’t standouts, much less superstars.

You begin to feel all alone, living in the weeds of business minutia.

You also begin to feel paralyzed and overwhelmed because everything is a priority —and when that happens, nothing is a priority and you don’t know what to do.

You are lost.

You’re not sure where to go and you’ve been so self-reliant that you hesitate to ask for help because it feels humiliating to not be able to work your way out of “the trap” on your own.

At this point, your inner critic, perfectionist, and judge take over. You find yourself saying things to yourself that aren’t kind. 

You thought you knew so much, but now you are humbled by the realization that you know so little about scaling a business.

That’s how you know you’re in “the trap” — you see that you don’t know how to cope with the new challenges in front of you. Challenges that require competencies you dont yet have.

In short, you’re in “the trap” when you feel like an impostor and live in fear of others discovering that you’re making it all up as you go along.

What does it feel like to escape “the trap”?

High-performing entrepreneurs describe it as a new type of winning. New because it’s no longer just you, the superstar, who’s winning but your whole team, your whole business.

You also feel like for the first time, in what’s been a long time, you have real direction.

You have a purpose and compelling vision that you can describe clearly to others — that Picture of The Future — and it’s not only yours but owned by your employees. It motivates and drives them and that makes you feel a new kind of excitement and no longer alone.

Not only that, but you find your Picture of the Future differentiates your business from your competitors and acts as a magnet for attracting really good people.

You’ll also notice that the same people who were once kind to you when you were in “the trap” are now trying to keep you down. Suddenly, they’re saying bad things about you (e.g. you’ve hardened, you’ve become demanding and ruthless, you’re taking advantage of others). Don’t worry. It’s only because they’re still stuck in their own trap.

Finally, escaping the trap makes you feel proud, and you truly deserve to.

You’ve not only learned how to scale a business but also how to build a business with an Edge, one in which you’re able to see and do what others can’t because you’ve now let go of ego and become a life-long learner.

You’re a person of purpose and vision who knows you can’t do it alone and no longer wants to.

This means you don’t hesitate to ask for support anymore either just like you did when you were first becoming that solo standout and before you fell into “the trap”.


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