When I arrived in Trento, Italy on Thursday the first thing I noticed were the city walls. Since the medieval times they have kept out invaders from the north and conquerors from the south. When you are reminded of your ancient past each day, perhaps it makes it harder to understand that THE PAST IS NOT THE FUTURE.
I was a speaker at a venture event in Trento this week that was sponsored by the local government and businesses. This region is making a fantastic effort in their attempt to break from the traditional thinking of old Italy and Europe and to foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. While perhaps this may sound novel, the reality of changing peoples’ beliefs and even values is daunting. In almost every single meeting I had with entrepreneurs it only took about 3 to 4 minutes before they started by telling me how difficult it is to succeed with a startup in Italy. It was almost as if they felt it was their task to convince me that this was impossible!
So how do you change the limiting beliefs of entrepreneurs? How do you inspire them to believe that success really is possible and that help can be found if entrepreneurs are first willing to learn the game and to search for assistance? Here are some tips…
- Create a single winner. Most people have heard the story of Roger Bannister, who in 1956 became the first runner to break the 4 minute mile barrier. For many years no one thought it possible for a human to run this fast and yet within the same year that Bannister broke the record, 13 other runners repeated the same. Today there are teenagers that run this fast. Once one person has proven that something can be done, many others are smitten with the same belief. Do whatever it takes to foster one single winner and many others will follow in their footsteps.
- Stay focused on success stories. There is much research that shows that the focus of your local news actually affects local behavior. If your local news sensationalizes crime and violence, then crime and violence have a tendency to increase. It is as if whatever we focus on grows. Focusing on success stories means that you have to actively go out and find the stories that support the belief that success is indeed possible. Focus on the success of entrepreneurs, even if they are not from your local area, and you will be surprised how quickly success will repeat itself in your region.
- Create support groups. Nothing is more powerful than a situation where a group has a common goal of supporting and encouraging each other. Best practices are contagious. Groups can meet in person or via online live webinars and teleconferences.
- Hold contests. Everyone loves a competition and entrepreneurs come forth in droves when there is an offer of a prize or of recognition. Organize contests and promote your winners. Give them prizes of assistance and help with business development.
- Invite dynamic speakers. There are people out there who are really good at delivering a message of motivation, belief and enthusiasm for entrepreneurs. Find these people and bring them in to talk with and work with your entrepreneurs. OK, maybe I suggest this because I myself am a public speaker on this topic, but do not underestimate the power of bringing in external people who can shake things up a bit.
- Encourage specialization. This is a tough issue, but the fact is that the world we live in is rapidly becoming more and more specialized. Gone are the days when a Renaissance man like Leonardo DaVinci could do ground-breaking discoveries in multiple and diverse areas of science and art. Today, the fastest way to succeed and get noticed in a crowded global marketplace is to specialize. Select an area – any area – and then setout to become a thought leader in this area. A hint is that the more narrow the niche, the faster you can dominate.
- Realize that we live in a Global Community. Take a good look at Google Apps and especially Google Wave. Tools that allow teams to collaborate globally are already available, excellent and often free. I am currently working with a startup from Norway where the system designer and programmer are in London and the marketing team is in Texas. Using Google tools, we collaborate online and are rapidly building a company and preparing to launch our first software products. Location no longer matters like it did.
- Remember Henry Ford. The man who was perhaps the father of modern factories of mass production was once quoted as having said “Whether you believe you can or cannot do something, you are correct”. If you believe you cannot succeed then you are probably right.
What we believe tends to become our reality. If you are an entrepreneur who believes that success IS possible, then you will probably find it. YOUR PAST IS NOT NECESSARILY YOUR FUTURE… unless you choose to make it so.
OK, so these are just some of my ideas on how to change the old beliefs and bring in new. What do you think? Use the COMMENT section below to share your ideas with me or send me an email and tell me what you think. Even better – join one of my free webinars where we can discuss these topics with other entrepreneurs.