By Jason Beukema, an EO South Florida member and owner of Whet Travel
The “road to yes” is more than just a journey toward success and positive thinking, it’s about truly knowing yourself – your highs, your lows, your strengths, your setbacks – and carving a niche that you can own that will be your own. As I moved the tassel from right to left with an entrepreneurship degree from Central Michigan University, I knew I had to dream big and work hard to be the quintessential success I had so carefully and keenly set out to become. But what did that even mean, and where and how would I begin?
A mentor of mine said if I find something I love to do, I’ll never work a day in my life. And what I loved more than anything was going on vacations. I had been on several cruises growing up and was always bored because it was full of families, older folk and offered nothing in the way of real entertainment or nightlife. So, without a dollar to my name, I dreamed of chartering a US$750 million dollar cruise ship and creating an experience for my friends that was unlike anything done before.
- Envision a dream. Once you have a dream and you’ve envisioned how you will add more value to the world (and you’ve mapped out your plan), the hard part is staying on course. If it is your passion, you will, and if it isn’t, then you will fall off course as the obstacles surmount. And they will. Every entrepreneur wants to quit at some point. Create a dream board, put reminders on your bathroom mirror (or in my case, above the toilet) so that you can look at your dream and be mindful of it every day. Eventually, it subconsciously becomes you, and you are drawn to the result. Some people call it the law of attraction. It works.
- Fail forward. Everything offers a learning lesson, and the only way to keep the wheels moving is to continue trying new things. From sampling new marketing tactics to employing better technologies, change is the one current you shouldn’t swim against; rather, use it as a way to get farther in your business. New ideas and uncharted territory may lead you down a dead-end road, but the person who fails the most ultimately wins. In my company, we have a rule to make as many mistakes as possible, as long as we don’t make the same mistake twice. If you aren’t failing and trying new things, you aren’t growing. You’re dying. It’s either one or the other.
- Cash is king. I always knew every dollar that was coming in and out of my business, but I didn’t understand anything about cash because, thankfully, I always had it. But when my business rapidly grew from producing one music cruise charter a year to four (and went from US$2 million in revenue to US$8 million in about six months), I somehow almost went out of business. Why? Because profit statements and revenues are not as important as cash, just ask Enron. Hire a CFO, even if he is just part-time. An accountant saves you money on taxes, but doesn’t understand the analytics and processes the way a CFO does. It’s changed our business.
The arrival to “yes” is different for every person, but for me, it came down to one all-encompassing hurdle I learned to overcome and conquer: finding my inner voice. In doing so, I learned to listen, began to trust my voice blindly and committed all the way. What makes you tick and thrive is all your own, and once you’ve figured that out, it all falls into place from there. Welcome to “yes.”