My Biggest Misconception

When I started my company, I was excited.

The feeling of complete autonomy was invigorating.

“Never again am I going to do anything I don’t want to do,”  I told myself.

Out into the world, I went, business plan in hand, feeling good about the value I could provide to my clients and prospective clients.

I wrote a book.

I gave speeches.

I held breakfast and lunch seminars.

I developed relationships, and people referred me business.

By the end of my first year, I was making enough money to pay all my bills and support my family.   Each year, for the first three years, we had just enough money.

The money I needed seemed to “show up” right when I needed it.

After year three I noticed something odd.  My income hit a plateau.

I would attract new clients, different types of clients, clients in different parts of the world, yet when I looked at my financial statement at the end of the year, I was within 10-15% of the previous year’s revenue and profit.

And, curiously enough, my income was about the same as my income in my first few years as a corporate executive.

When I discovered this insight, I shared it with a friend who owns a successful technology company.  He asked me the million-dollar question:

“What forced you out of the loop of making that income when you were in the corporate world?”

“My boss, our CEO, challenged me,”  I said.

“How?” he enquired.

“He told me a story about how one of our competitors, his former brother-in-law, stole an account from him.

The CEO explained that this account was the first big client he and his former brother-in-law signed up when they started the business.

When the CEO’s sister and brother-in-law were divorced, the brother-in-law took that account and started a competing company.

The CEO challenged every new leader of the New York office to get that account back because it meant so much to him personally.

Nobody could ever do it.

In fact, our competitor had run everyone from our company out of New York for years.  Their business was smaller than ours on a national level, but they crushed us in New York.

I not only got that account back within six months of that conversation, but I also took eight of the competitors most valuable accounts away within the year.

The CEO was so happy he proposed me for partnership, doubled my base salary, give me profit distributions in the company, and bought me a membership in an exclusive private club.”

“So some external motivation forced you out of your comfort zone and made you exceed your personal expectations?” My friend astutely concluded.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Why don’t you force yourself to do the same thing for your own business?”

That’s when it hit me.

I was waiting for some huge breakthrough.

I was waiting for my boss to come and sit down and tell me some story – so I could go out and crush the competition.

That doesn’t happen when you’re an entrepreneur.

You tell yourself your stories.

My story was: “I’m a survivor.” Which translates into:  “I make enough to survive.”

That’s not sufficient.

So I started telling myself a different story.

I’ll keep the details to myself but suffice it to say that story involves flying first class, putting my kids into a great school, and having the freedom to say “NO” to anything I don’t want to do.

I needed the shock of that conversation with my friend to break me out of my comfort zone.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I needed the shock of that conversation with myself.

What conversation do you need to have with yourself to break through to the next level?

What beliefs are holding you back?

Why are you letting them?

Here are three additional resources you can use to break through to the next level:

How to Build a Powerful Sales Message

This is your seven step guide to building a powerful sales message.

Five Qualities Necessary for Sales Success

These are five qualities that will make you more successful in sales.

How to Write a Proposal and Have It Accepted Every Time

Here is my secret to writing great proposals.