A version of this article originally appeared on the EO Melbourne blog. The content has been edited and reprinted here with permission.
When the traffic flow is slow-going, how do you amuse yourself? Do you ever find yourself reading the bumper stickers on the cars around you?
Some bumper stickers are funny. Others are political. Plenty are inspiring, and a few are confrontational. All bumper stickers reflect the person who chose to affix them to the vehicle.
What would your bumper sticker say? As an entrpreneur, what message do you hope to share with others around you—maybe even entrepreneurs on their own journey?
We interviewed members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Melbourne, Australia, who shared these words of wisdom. Budding entrepreneurs or those who contemplating starting a business may learn a thing or two from these bumper sticker slogans.
Fuel your drive. Go passion forward.
Passion. It is a powerful word that we hear often from business owners.
Passion is the fire in your belly that makes you go through obstacles and over stumbling blocks. Passion is the fuel that moves an entrepreneur, even when the path forward looks treacherous.
If you are at the beginning of your journey, load up with plenty of passion. It will propel you forward. If you’re somewhere in the middle or farther on your journey, passion will recharge and reinvigorate you.
Plus, passion can be contagious, but it dwindles if you don’t nurture it. Feed it and generously share it with others.
Plan ahead. Chart your route.
Setting goals and mapping your way to them is critical to your success. It is crucial to know the route toward your destination. Do research. Gather data. Create a checklist with key milestones, and assign dates to your goals. Planning can even accelerate your progress to key goals.
Of course, there will be unexpected detours and welcome opportunities that arise. Take them. But always keep your head up and your compass set to navigate toward your next big goal.
Face your fears. Embrace courage.
Many entrepreneurs (the honest ones, anyway) will admit that they felt some fear when they started their businesses. Cash flow, debt, problem employees, imperfect products and changes in the industry can keep any founder up all night.
Courage is one characteristic that makes entrepreneurs stand out above the rest. They face their fears and take calculated risks because they want to carve their own path. Even when the ride ahead seems tumultuous, they continue to move forward with the determination to arrive at their next stop.
Stay in the positive lane. Wear a smile.
The entrepreneurial journey is like a roller-coaster ride. It’s not a straight path. It has peaks and troughs, potholesand sharp curves. There inevitably will be situations that dishearten a business owner.
Amidst all the disappointments, positivity is a quality that makes the experience more colorful and less dreary. Focus on what you’re good at, as well as positive things around you. If there are bumps in the road, be solution-driven. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
As EO members share, there’s value in feeling grateful for all experiences, good or bad. After all, even difficult situations can mould you to become better and stronger. Take a moment to think of those things and be thankful for what they have brought to you and made you become. And smile often.
Never give up. Drive on.
For others, it may sound like a cliché. But for entrepreneurs, it is a grain of wisdom that they need to consume every day. Persistence, perseverance, relentlessness, determination, patience, tenacity, endurance—and the list goes on. All these words are summed up in one mantra: “Don’t give up.”
There are times when owning a business will feel like going into battle. You’re in battle with your competitors, with doubters around you and, most of all, with yourself. In business, there are those who quit after the first year of operation. Some ventures don’t fly in the initial stages. But those that survive and last long are those that persist. Success does not happen overnight. There may be traffic jams, but keep driving, and you will eventually get to your destination.
Work hard. Make it happen.
There are no shortcuts to triumph. You labor for it and invest in it—physically, financially, emotionally and mentally. Sure, luck plays a small part but the greatest ingredient is hard work.
Find your tribe.
Surround yourself with the right people, whether inside the business or outside of it. Join groups like the Entrepreneurs’ Organization to meet your peers—those people who get you and can advise you. Having a solid support system will make your entrepreneurial journey a little easier and a lot more enjoyable.
Ask questions. You’ll get there faster.
To avoid getting lost, ask questions. Sometimes, all it takes is one powerful question to generate the right answers and insights to you help you change the course of your journey for the better. Plus, humility is an excellent quality in great leaders. To ask is to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and that you’re open to new ways of thinking.
Stop, look, and listen.
Stop making noise. Look at your surroundings. Listen to others.
Listening is one practice that many entrepreneurs mention time and time again. It is necessary for decision-making. Listening encourages openness. You also learn more when you hear the opinions of others. After all, that is why we have two ears and just one mouth, with a huge brain in between.
Listen to your people. Listen to the market. Listen to your partners. Listen to your clients and customers. Listen to your loved ones. Listen to your body.
By listening well, you know when to avoid danger or when to chase after an opportunity.
Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial career, there is always room for improvement and growth. You must grow alongside your business. It is the natural way of things. Expand your knowledge, augment your skills and enhance your capabilities. Continue flexing your entrepreneurial muscle by attending learning events, listening to experts, reading books and sharing experiences with peers.
Now, which bumper sticker will you put on your car window? Some of these might be reminders you need to repeat to yourself every now and then. Or maybe you hope to save others from having to learn the lesson.