You must earn your ending. The eulogy, the bonus, the Pulitzer Prize. The day your business sells, and you retire on an island. The day you graduate from install helper to lead installer, you move from helper to technician. Customer service help desk at Home Depot to entrepreneur — your pathway, your ending, must be earned.

When I took a risk (and didn’t)

As a young college kid and then later as a young adult, I jumped out of an airplane. My friends and I drove to Kansas and found ourselves outside of a trailer house in the middle of a corn field. Two friendly dive instructors walked out and greeted us, with head-to-toe tattoos and long scraggly hair. We got into and airplane, rode into the sky, and we jumped out. A few years later, I found myself at the skydive center of Atlanta for my second and third jumps.

But last year, since I was happily married with two beautiful baby girls, when the call came to join friends for a skydive trip, I quickly yelled, “Are you crazy!” I’ll never jump a fourth time. Now that I am a mother, I can no longer afford the risk.

Why entrepreneurs must take risks

And yet, strength is built in moments of weakness, in the moments of weakness that we choose to take risks. We all have weaknesses. I’m too nice. While growing my team, I often offer my team too much too soon, before it’s been earned. That will kick me in the tail if I don’t change.

The danger zone appears when we think we’ve made it, when we stop loving our customers, when we stop looking for our weaknesses so we can strengthen them. Fortunately, in contracting, it’s simple. When the market changes, you change.

Consider the entrepreneur. Whether she was working for someone else as a lead service tech or grew up in her family’s service business, at one point, she found that she could treat her customers better, price better, market better, and be a better contractor.

So she chose to get into business.

Fast forward a few years, when she’s experiencing feast and famine, when she no longer gets to depend on the healthy, steady paycheck from her old boss. Let’s say there is a wall staring her down: new competition. A big business franchise moved into her market and she now has the choice to become a victim or strengthen her weaknesses with risk.

When threatened by a newcomer in the market and experiencing a moment of vulnerability, we have the choice to resist or compete. To complain about declining business or compete. Remember: Competing is why the entrepreneur chooses to get into business to begin with!

“But my competitors stole my customers!” False. Success is rented and not owned, and the rent is due every day. Let’s not forget, competitors are not some enormous sea monster that crawled out of the ocean. They’re just entrepreneurs that grew big, and often faced their weaknesses faster than we did and with more risk.

When the market changes, you change. You want to win—don’t resist, lean in. Earn your ending.

Publication date: 5/13/2019

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