How to Be Bold in Life and Business

There’s a lot of so-called “self-help” out there with strategies to help you increase your contentment and sense of success in life. These books and programs offer points to consider, mottos, inspirational quotes, and sometimes even step-by-step guides for how to get yourself from the point that you are now to the vision you have of where you want to be. The self-help industry was last clocked at $11 billion, and that was back in 2013. There’s a growing sentiment that self-help, which already isn’t so much self (you’re paying someone other than yourself to retire early) also really isn’t all that much help.

Still, it seems to be human nature to desire more, and to seek out inspiration or motivation in the form of a book, a program, or perhaps a mentor. I’ve had a fair amount of success in my life. Has all that success come from sitting and listening to a book or a mentor, or from motivating myself to get up and do something, only looking for specific help when I was stuck with a particular problem? I think my success qualifies me to offer you a small bit as a mentor, so here are some things I’ve learned along with my accomplishments.

Be bold in the face of adversaries.

When our company’s first product went live, a sense of celebration was warranted. However, that was a bit short-lived, as within 6 weeks of launch, we received a cease-and-desist letter from another company. Unfortunately, as a small, new business, with limited resources, we caved to that demand rather than slow our growth by pouring money into a legal fight. We buckled under pressure from a larger competitor who felt threatened by us.

That pebble in our shoe ended up becoming a diamond because, being forced to come up with a new name for our product, our creativity met its potential and we arrived at a new name that would open even more opportunities for branding and for our products to become known.

Now, instead of buckling, I move boldly forward. You could say I persist through cease-and-desist. In fact, I take these letters as a good sign — if our competitors are paying attention to us, we must be doing something right!

Imagine if, the next time you went to pick up a bottle of shampoo, there were only one brand on the shelf, and it was offered to you by the first person who ever discovered a pH-balanced, liquid form of soap. Ludicrous, right? It seems so ridiculous because we are used to the options and choices provided to us as a result of the right that businesses have to compete with each other.

We now have a collection of cease-and-desist letters in a cabinet, all waiting for the day we follow through with our devious plan for them. I’m proud that our small company is growing, and catching the eye of our much larger competitors, even if their acknowledgement comes in the form of threats.

Be bold wherever you are.

When we first began Span Enterprises, we had many choices to make. We could have set up shop in any number of cities, including Charlotte, Los Angeles, and New York. Charlotte is now known as the banking capital of the South, if not of the entire nation, and both Los Angeles and New York are home to some of the most successful and known businesses the world over. They stand as two electric poles, icons of industry on either side of the country.

Instead, my business partner and I centered our first office in Rock Hill, SC. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but it is a wonderful small city with plenty of vibrancy. It’s located about twenty minutes south of Charlotte, and many people pass it up in order to engage with the hubbub and energy of the big city. We, however, didn’t make that mistake. We have this statement we believe in — Big ideas grow in small towns. We’ve truly made that happen. We’ve had room to grow without being surrounded by larger, glitzier organizations who may have looked down on us from their skyscrapers. We’ve felt a sense of community and support here that we’ve been able to return to our neighbors and friends.

Whatever your industry, you may feel pulled to migrate to a larger city in order to “make it.” You may even delay your plans and dreams until you can arrange to establish yourself in a large city. This can be difficult, and limiting. Why not begin where you are? You transfer later if that feels necessary. Our decision to plant our business in a small, thriving city has been one of the best decisions we could have made.

Be attentive when you should.

In order to start a new business, or really to start anything new in life, you have to cast aside the opinions of a few naysayers. This comes with the territory. Who knows why they do it, but you can’t listen to them if you know your dream is correct, and doable (make sure you know it is doable; this may require some research!). You have to have faith in yourself.

There comes a time, though, when it is necessary to take in feedback. Though it may come in the form of criticism, or even anger, take every interaction you have on the path to pursuing your goals as feedback to help you refine and succeed. Begin to discern the difference between bitter rants and valid complaints that you can turn into tips for your business.

Our business has had more ups than downs, but that is only because we were flexible, responding to the needs and concerns of our clients to change products, often relaunching stronger because of the adjustments we made. If we had a flop, we acknowledged it, and abandoned the product rather than grow stubborn and try to save it at all costs. For example, our product, Inspherio, was launched at a time when the industry it targeted was going through many changes. We could never gain good traction, and the product was not a success. We accepted this, and shut the product down in December of 2016.

Because we were able to listen to our clients and the data, we were able to move on and launch many more projects that were hugely successful. If we had dug in our heels on a sinking ship, well, we’d be sunk by now! Sometimes, in order to stay floating, you have to let go of heavy, dead weight. Rose knew this when she survived Titanic, after all, and we must know it for ourselves.

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Remember, most of what you do in life, you instigate yourself, alone. That doesn’t mean you don’t receive help, but you must have your own motivation, make your own decisions, and take your own actions. The mottos and platitudes found from self-help are all well and good, but the most obvious, most important thing about self-help is this: You must help yourself. I’ve given a few tips, and you can count those among the many thousands that already exist, but you are in charge of whether or not you take these tips and create action. Go out. Do. Be bold.

Remember, you can neither blame your failures on nor credit your happiness to anyone else — you are responsible for your outcome. Keep on keeping on.