Ever since I was a small child I remember my grandmother being there for me during many of my most challenging moments.  From typical childhood stuff like not doing well in school or a girl I had a crush on rejecting me to more intense things later in life like when I took company #2 into bankruptcy or divorcing of my first wife.

The message was always the same, “Stefan, never give up!”

She should know.

Oma (German for grandma) was born and raised in Munich just before WWI.  And by her early 30’s she watched her life tear apart, piece-by-piece.

During the early part of WWII, Oma and Opa (my grandfather) helped hide and get their Jewish friends out of Nazi Germany.   In 1942, during the second bombing they had endured since the beginning of the war, Opa was killed.  It was also the second time she had lost virtually everything they owned.  Oma told me she is glad Opa died that way because she was sure he would have ended up in a concentration camp for refusing the Nazis’ request for using his thriving business to supply German troops on the eastern front.

But now a widow and homeless with three young children, Oma moved out of Munich and into the country.

As if that was not enough, soon after relocating, Oma almost died from an infection.  But what pulled her out of her coma, she told me, was thinking as she lay unconscious, “I cannot leave my three children as orphans!”

Soon after the war, having lost almost everything she had and being ashamed of her countrymen, Oma and her children left Germany forever to start a new life in America.

“Oma” Doering — Photo by Andreanna Doering

To this day, whenever confronted with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, I think of Oma, who died in 2002 after having had a very fulfilling life in America.  I remember her crystal clear eyes, full of loving passion and conviction, saying, “Stefan, never give up!”

 

 

 

Lately I have been working with a lot of small business owners trying to raise capital for their businesses.  And with the economy the way it is, more than a few of them are seriously thinking of giving up.

Entrepreneurs can learn something from Oma.

 

The Five Parts to Never Giving Up as an UnReasonable Entrepreneur:

  1. Crystal Clear Visiona vision that inspires the bejesus out of you.  Something you are truly passionate about.  Keep in mind all successful visions I’ve ever seen serve a higher good.  They have nothing to do with the entrepreneur’s or company’s success.
  2. Intense Determinationwith your powerful vision, create a clear goal you want to achieve.  Make sure it is UnReasonable—beyond what you think you can do and integrates your passion and vision.   Then adopt a whatever it takes mindset.
  3. Smart Strategy—develop specific and measurable goals.  Create your game plan to achieve them.  Make sure you break them down into manageable chunks.
  4. System to deal with Obstacleshave contingency plans lined up.  If things don’t go according to plan, what’s Plan B?
  5. Powerful Support Teampeople that “listen” to you as if company vision is a “done deal.”  The best way is to get into a mastermind group, with like-minded entrepreneurs.  Each supports the others in your successes.  BEST Coaches is starting the Smart Capital Mastermind Group program in early January.

Here’s the key to being an entrepreneur that lives by this mantra:  giving up on your concept is different than giving up on your vision.

For example, just because your organic clothing manufacturing business doesn’t turn out the way you hoped does not mean you give up on the vision of sustainable clothing for the world to wear.

And closing your concept down, which I’ve had to do twice, does not mean you’ve failed.

That only happens when you give up on your vision.

So, stay focused on the vision and when you’re stuck, use Oma’s mantra.

 

Action Steps for the Week:

Feeling weary about moving your business model forward?  Not sure you’ll make it through?

First:  you’re not alone–

This is the single and most difficult part of being an entrepreneur.  Start by listening to a powerful song by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, Don’t Give Up.

Second:  revisit your vision–

Why are you doing this to begin with?  Make sure it is beyond “you”.  Visions are things designed to never be achieved, but for you to focus on.  IE:  Microsoft’s (used to be): “A computer on every desk”.  Or an acupuncturists, “Healing Humanity”.

Third:  create your what, by when goal–

If you tell yourself that you must do whatever it takes to accomplish this, what would you need to do?  Write this out in a timeline.

Fourth:  Build your support team–

I strongly urge you to create a mastermind group of like-minded entrepreneurs.  Or join one of ours.

Fifth:  create your exit–

NOT from your vision, but from your concept.  What needs to happen by when before you must stop trying?  There is a difference between being UnReasonable and being irresponsible to you and your family.

Then after doing these steps, and the next time that voice in your head starts to question where you are heading with your business, you can tell that voice, “Thank you for sharing.  Now move over because I have work to do!”

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