By Troy Hazard, an international speaker, best-selling author and managing director of The Edge Corporate Strategies.
As a long-time speaker, I have lectured at hundreds of conferences around the world. I’ve talked to every type of business person imaginable, and the one common denominator among them all is this: Most people are looking for that “one thing” to make life easy. They seek that magic bullet— the key to life, the universe and business success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.
What I tell my audience is that the secret they seek is not external. It’s not something you can touch, hold or own. It’s something you feel, something you believe. In my years of speaking, I have found that many entrepreneurs are trapped in four core beliefs; beliefs that stop them from really learning:
- They believe they don’t have enough time to implement what they learn.
- They believe the information they gathered doesn’t apply to their business or industry.
- They make most of their business decisions out of fear and are too afraid to ask questions.
- They lack vision and purpose.
These beliefs are rampant in the business world. I know, because for almost a decade, I lived, worked and breathed them. It nearly made me bankrupt … twice.
It was in the mid-1990s, and I had been in business for almost a decade. At the time, I owned and operated a number of non-related companies. I was making tons of money, driving fast cars and living in a nice house. I was living the dream— until there was an interest rate spike in the market. As a result, the economy went flat and many of my clients went broke, all within 90 days. I was left with roughly US$500,000 in bad debt, along with an astronomical tax bill I couldn’t pay.
One morning, I stood in my dining room and stared at the pile of bills, cash-flow projections, debtor and creditor print-outs, and asset and liability assessments on my dinner table. I had nothing left in the tank…or in the bank. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do. I leaned on my Forum, and through their support hired an administrator to get me back on my feet. Days turned into weeks, and months into years. Eventually, I got over the hump, but not without a little bruising.
When I was finally stable, I took a look at my businesses and searched for the clue that determined their success or failure. Turns out, it was me. Everything led back to me. That was a tough pill to swallow. I remember thinking: It must be someone else’s issue! Surely, it wasn’t my fault that things got so off track. And yet, it was. It all came down to my belief system and how I approached business. I thought I was infallible, living fast and furious in the present.
It dawned on me that I was like most of the members in my audience. I was too afraid to implement change for fear of “getting it wrong.” I thought I was smart, but I was just arrogant. I thought I was lateral-minded, but I was running in circles. I thought I was innovative, but I was simply repackaging the same bad business concepts. I was erratic and unfocused; a clueless entrepreneur looking for his magic bullet.
In order for me to grow as an entrepreneur and not get stuck in the present, I had to constantly evaluate the present to help me assess my future. More importantly, I had to look internally for the solution to my problems and manage my belief systems, not look externally for an excuse to the problem. To protect my future I had to always bring it back to me.
It was then that I realised how simple it was for a business mind to get trapped in the wrong belief system. I vowed to change the way I thought about business and share my experiences with my peers.
Throughout it all, I learned that the key to a better, brighter future in business is to face reality and take responsibility for your actions. The success of your business lies on your shoulders, and once you face the real issues at hand, only then can you make things easier for you and the people you lead.
Troy has spoken at several EO events. In the span of 20 years, Troy has founded and nurtured 10 different businesses.