Welcome to Episode 4 of the Every Entrepreneur Needs Systems podcast.
Today’s episode came out of a conversation with my friend Vasavi, who I’m hoping to get on for an interview soon, and it revolves around hard work.
Now. As a young entrepreneur, I heard a lot of gurus pontificate about how working hard was for the unaligned fools out there who bought into some Puritan belief that life is tough and work is hard. Sure, it meant our ancestors didn’t die as they broke ground on new civilizations and hunted for their food and survived cold, harsh winters. But now we have evolved beyond that need. In fact, if you just “get in the flow” then you’ll never have to work hard again and the very belief that you have to work hard means that you have a broken mindset and should really let the Universe flow through you.
If you listened to Episode 3: Pray and Move your Feet, you know that I think most of that is b.s. In part because if it were so damn easy everyone would become an entrepreneur and every business would succeed. Which empirically does not happen.
What bothers me about this belief is that we often use vague words like “hard” to indicate a wide range of challenges. Here are some more pointed questions:
Should entrepreneurship be so easy you never have to learn a new skill and the awkward fumbling that comes with trying something for the first time? Is every entrepreneur able to pick up skills like graphic design, sales, and website development immediately?
Is it reasonable to struggle to find the right words when faced with a difficult conversation whether that’s canceling a client agreement, following up on an invoice, or telling someone no? Should every entrepreneur be expected to know exactly what to say in every circumstance?
Does every entrepreneur have the capacity, from day 1, to run an online shop, service business, brick and mortar, agency, investment firm, Fortune 100 company, and a charity? If your business morphs between those categories, is it reasonable to need help learning how to manage a different kind of business?
Finally, should we believe that entrepreneurs can sit in silent meditation for 5, maybe 6, minutes and then be able to immediately and completely create the content for a new book, course or training? If you’re working over weeks or months, adapting and tweaking content isn’t that a sign that you’re not aligned and shouldn’t be an entrepreneur?
If you believe that entrepreneurs never struggle – with anything – then you’re either naive or delusional. Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t make you brilliant at all these skills any more than shooting hoops in your driveway makes you an elite athlete.
Just like every other area of life, entrepreneurs learn as they go: sometimes from mentors, mastermind groups, books, educational workshops, trial and error, coaching, and yes, just trying stuff to see what works.
And it’s hard – by God it’s hard!
So why do gurus insist that you shouldn’t have to work that hard to be successful?
Well, I call it Jack and the Magic Beans syndrome.
Firstly, some people just have short memories about what it really takes to build a business. In the same way that your great grandma may not remember the sleepless nights after a newborn comes home, they may just be so far removed from those days that it’s hard to understand reality.
But second, and more importantly, the gurus who sell you on the idea that x, y and z don’t have to be so hard are appealing to your human nature. NO ONE wants to work hard to get what they want. It’s not just our instant gratification society, if you go to any human at any time in history and offer them what they want and give them the choice of working hard for years to get it or just taking it right now, no one choses hard work.
You can’t easily sell on the idea of working hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be difficult – just that some people are willing to lie about it.
Third, the gurus telling you not to work so hard usually offer an alternative. The Magic Beans. Just take this *magical* solution that I found and you’ll be more rich, powerful, healthy and happy than you ever thought possible.
What you don’t realize is that the Magic Beans are shape-shifting. In the beginning it’s “just buy my book!” and $18 on the chance to not have to work hard is very appealing! Then, “join my program,” followed by “you need this software” and “have you become an affiliate yet?” and “you need to work with me in this absurdly expensive package…” each time moving the magic of the beans further and further away from your grasp.
Oh, and they can often throw in a side of guilt and shame. If the beans don’t work, it’s because you didn’t believe hard enough, stand in alignment or meditate on success long enough. It’s not the fault of the beans I sold you – look! – that person with a totally different skillset and personality and business model found success. What’s wrong with you?
Before you think that I’m just ranting and raving to depress you about gurus out there selling lies, I want to make a statement that should not be controversial but somehow, still is:
Learning how to be an entrepreneur takes time and is difficult. You can make it easier by learning from those who have been there and done that, but there’s no magic pill for learning and doing the work.
This is why I believe so strongly in systems; it’s not just a guess but a proven way to reach the outcome you desire and is easily tweaked as you learn more and grow. If you build systems in your business, then some tasks will become easier over time… but the work does not go away. Anyone who says otherwise is selling you Magic Beans.
Join me every Monday to learn about the systems your business needs most, how to build them and make them run “automagically.” I’m Kelly Azevedo, founder of She’s Got Systems and author of Every Entrepreneur Needs Systems.