Why 8 Out of 10 New Businesses Fail

When I first committed to Zen training, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it would have been a breeze. Maybe an easy way to find peace and relaxation from the hustle and bustle our culture weighs on us.

Do a duck duck go search on meditation, and you’ll find countless ways to find inner peace. Most people preach that meditation should be easy. Go for a walk in nature and find the stillness. Lay down with your eyes closed and visualize. Relax on the couch and count your breath. Then, and in no time, I’ll find enlightenment, right?

I went to my first Zen class with all these ideas about meditation, but no real experience. Do you think I was in for a surprise? Oh ya.

My teacher made me sit on a small round cushion without a mat on the hard floor (what! I couldn’t lay down). I had to cross my legs in some kind of kung fu style that only double jointed people can do. Worst of all, I couldn’t move. Not even an inch. Not even a scratch. When I did move, he scolded me.

We meditated for fifty minutes. Fifty. Friggin’. Minutes. My legs were in so much pain. My foot fell asleep and the pins and needles feeling seeped into my stomach. I was nauseous and almost puked. At the fifty minute mark he rang the bell to end the meditation. I was broken. I wanted to cry.

You Might Not Make It

Isn’t this shockingly similar to being new in business? We have these grandiose ideas of making a huge impact, having financial freedom, and making six figures within six months. But the truth is: we want to cry most of time. Making our business work is hard.

Only two out of ten people make it. You wouldn’t have guessed that figure because 8 out of 10 business or life coaches preach your dreams can become a reality, or you can make six figures in six months (I think it’s up to seven figures now).

The deck is stacked against you, too. You’re inexperienced, so you don’t have social proof or validation that your business is viable. Your income is low, so you desperately need clients and money. When you mix inexperience and a low income together, you undervalue yourself and price way too low. You give a ton of your time and exhaust yourself, but you’re not getting ahead as you hoped.

Who are the ones that make it? That’s the wrong question. A better question: What’s the best chance you can give yourself so you do make it in business?

Commit Wholeheartedly To The Form

The reason why the Rinzai school of Zen (that’s my form) is rigorous and soooo damn hard is because it’s the quickest way to enlightenment. It’s not about finding peace or feeling happy, it’s about getting over yourself. And this type of Zen training gets harder and harder until…you wholeheartedly commit.

Before wholehearted commitment, you move when you are sitting. You don’t truly listen to your teacher. Sometimes you show up, sometimes you don’t. You quit counting your breath when you should be counting. You don’t practice day in and day out. You think enlightenment will just happen to you.

After wholehearted commitment, you have no choice. You sit because that’s what you do. You count your breath because that’s what you do. You endure the pain because that’s what you do. You seek enlightenment and you keep seeking because that’s what you do.

The irony of it all: once you wholeheartedly commit, you have a breakthrough. The enjoyable side effects kick in: a quiet mind, inner peace, unexplained joy, and clarity.

The majority of people who fail in business (and I have experience failing four businesses) are not wholeheartedly committed. They go through the motions and look for the easy way–the next marketing trick, social media tip, sales tip, or line of thought, “how can I get the next client.”

Yes, you will have to endure pain, and if you’re new in business, I’m sure there’s pain. You are trying a lot of things and not seeing much work.

But when you commit with a whole heart, you burn all bridges behind you. You have to make it. You have no choice. The pain is still there, but the magic happens. One client turns into two. Two into four clients. You are being appreciated for your contribution. You feel the love inside. People say “I love you.” (yes, that does happen from my community.)

How to Wholeheartedly Commit to Make Your Business Work?

Plain and simple: it’s a decision you make. Wholehearted commitment can happen from having too much suffering in your life that it lights a fire under your ass, or you can decide, right now, to commit.

I like the decision route. Here’s how.

  • Raise your standards.

Are you in business to make a living? To make money? Or, are you in business to make some kind of impact for others? Are you in business to discover your very best self? To grow? To have financial abundance? To share your voice? To share love? Most importantly, are you clear on what you are after and what you will not settle for?

The turning point to wholehearted commitment in my Zen training happened when I decided to go full on seeking enlightenment and to sit for everyone. I was clear to why I’m doing my training. And I committed and decided to settle for nothing less than full clarity and realization.

You need to do the same for your business. Why are you doing what you are doing? What do you really want? What will you NOT settle for? The right answers will appear when the aliveness and passion kick up inside of you. Hint hint: it’s not going to be about money or toys.

  • Get leverage on yourself.

The funny thing about us humans is that we are only doing two things in life: avoiding pain or moving toward pleasure. For example, you have a migraine. You are in pain. Therefore, you take some aspirin so you can avoid pain and move to pleasure.

I also bet that you are in business because you want pleasure. This may take many different forms, but some common forms of pleasure from business are: money, significance, contribution, certainty, appreciation, freedom, etc. And when you have a lack of clients and money, you are in pain and want to move into pleasure.

Now here’s the tricky part. If you are struggling in your small business, especially if it has been a long term struggle, you are unconsciously linking pleasure to your struggling situation. Why would you ever do that? Because it’s what you know. There’s certainty in that situation. Certainty of how things will happen in your life brings you comfort and pleasure; therefore, you stay the same.

The beauty of Zen training is that it creates so much suffering and doubt that you are forced to change. When that happens, you realize enlightenment.

Business is a path to enlightenment, too. Changing your situation in business, and to move into wholehearted commitment, you must get leverage on yourself. Ask these two questions and journal about them:

1. What is the cost of not having a thriving and abundant business? Make sure to find the pain in your business life and how it affects all areas of your life.

Well, if I don’t thrive and have abundance, then it will always be a struggle to make ends meet. I will give a lot of myself, but never really feel nourished. I will also need clients and money and I can see myself compromise integrity to make a buck. I will actually feel drained and always be pissed off. This will upset my wife. She will get sick of our financial lack. I can see our credit card bills go up. We won’t be able to connect with friends and family out of town. I won’t be able to travel…

2. What is all the pleasure I will gain from having a thriving, impactful, and abundant business? Make sure to write about the impact for your business and finances, but also the other areas of your life.

My calendar will be full and I will love what I’m doing. I will feel really filled and I’ll be able to give more. I can start that charity I always wanted to start. I will be able to buy a nice plot of land and build that little New Englander. My wife and I will be able to travel and experience cultures. I will feel loved and like I’m making a difference because I’m helping other businesses succeed.

Make sure you get into this and give it your all when writing. When you understand the cost and pleasure, you have leverage and commitment to change your situation.

  • Master the forms.

The rituals we have in Zen training are rigorous. There’s a certain way to enter the gate, to walk to your cushion, to bow, to sit, to hold your hands, to breath, to light the candles, to stretch, to exit the sitting area, to do everything. Sometimes it is daunting.

But we strive to master those forms for a purpose: to set ourselves up for success. We want to give ourselves the best chance possible to realize enlightenment.

You need to do the same for your business. There are heart-centered and ethical structures and strategies to support your business that will set you up for success. So many new business owners only rely on passion and excitement. They jump in and hope to figure things out on the way. Passion and excitement are not constant; they are like a candle that flickers in the wind.

I have two ways here to support you. But most importantly, whether it’s from me or someone else, invest in learning the business forms. All people who do good things in life have a teacher and make an investment to master the form.

How about you? Can you tell me a time in your life when you wholeheartedly committed to something that it completely changed your life? Maybe it’s your business? Or maybe in a different part of your life? What was the defining difference?

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