by Crystal L. Faulkner, an EO Cincinnati member and co-founder and partner of Cooney Faulkner & Stevens, LLC
Several months ago, I heard a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I thought about that saying and wondered: Was I still challenging myself? Did my goals still “scare me”? Have I become entirely too comfortable in my business?
I run an accounting and advisory firm, and over the years we’ve built a strong business with a significant client base. In fact, we just recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. Although our business is considered successful, I found myself reflecting on my own progress as an entrepreneur. I questioned whether I was still pushing myself, and recalled the “scared excitement” I felt when we started out. I had to step out of my comfort zone so many times to make the company what it is today … when did that end?
I conceded that maybe I wasn’t pushing myself like I had in the beginning. I wanted to rekindle that scared excitement because I was afraid to consider what I might miss if I didn’t challenge myself. Here is how I re-embraced getting comfortable with being uncomfortable:
Write Down Your Goals
Unless a goal is written down, it is only an idea. Writing down my goals and assigning deadlines helps me visualize what I want to accomplish. Having my goals publically displayed also holds me accountable. My goals are displayed in frames in my office and home to remind me of my priorities, both professionally and personally. If I can see it, I can do it.
Make the Decision to Raise the Bar
It’s easy to be comfortable with what’s familiar. But I knew that if I wanted to grow alongside my clients, I needed to stop procrastinating and earn my certification in business exit and transition planning. That meant dedicating time to studying, taking exams and attending conferences … while still running my business. It was worth the effort. These credentials now enable us to offer a new service that provides a holistic review of our clients’ objectives, in turn helping them increase the value of their businesses.
Identify (and Weigh) the Pros and Cons
What will happen if I take action and venture outside of my comfort zone again? Our business may experience growth. What will happen if I don’t? Nothing will change. Measuring the pros and cons of my action and inaction was beneficial when deciding whether to pursue the exit-planning certification. I was perfectly content to keep doing what I was doing. However, it was clear that several of our clients were entering their retirement years, had no exit plan for their businesses and no idea where to start. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to bring added value to our clients, while at the same time expand our service offerings. By weighing my options, I was able to build equity in myself and the business.
Generally, entrepreneurs don’t think about the benefits of failure. However, if we apply what we learn from our failures, we can use it to practice, improve and try again. Several years ago, I made a proposal to a real estate developer, but didn’t get the business. At the time, this potential client thought our firm was too small. I stayed in touch and continued to send the business owner valuable information that was pertinent to his company. The owner witnessed firsthand our understanding and knowledge of the real estate industry, as well as our commitment to providing value. Recently, this same individual reached out to me and hired us to handle his personal and business accounting needs. By using my failure as fuel, I was able to set myself up for the future.
Ask yourself these three questions: Are you truly stretching yourself and your business? Are you constantly learning and developing as a leader? Are you reaching new heights and realizing your full potential? If you didn’t answer yes to these questions, do what I did: Take Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice and “do one thing every day that scares you!”
Crystal L. Faulkner, CPA, (pictured) is an EO Cincinnati member. Her firm specializes in exit-planning strategies for privately held businesses. Contact Crystal at firstname.lastname@example.org.