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Five years ago did you know where you would be today? Even if you had a vague idea of where you’d be, chances are reality is different to how you imagined it would turn out.

For me, my life changed when I read Rich Dad Poor Dad  and Multiple Streams of Income. It wasn’t that I learned anything new from these two books, it was the joining up of a collection of disparate ideas into a single cohesive plan.

It was the realisation that financial freedom was down to me and not the responsibility of  anyone else. Of course, deep down  I knew this, but making a concious effort to do something about it is a big step forward.

So for the last 5 years I’ve been pursuing a number of objectives all aimed at securing the financial future for myself  and my family.

The objectives themselves are not a destination but a series of markers of progress along the journey.

As an entrepreneur we are  all on a journey. A journey which takes many twists and turns. In fact this journey reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous statement in a 2002 press briefing on the Iraq war:

  [T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.
—Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Psychologists refer to this journey as the 4 stages of learning. As an entrepreneur we must progress through these 4 stages to achieve mastery of our chosen business.  But how quickly you progress and how quickly the journey  takes depends on you.

Here are the 4 stages:

1. You don’t know what you don’t know

Before I became an interim manager, I’d never even heard the term interim manager. I didn’t know that a market existed for them let alone how to become one. However, by interviewing experts and undertaking research, I gained sufficient knowledge to move forward. Until then I was living in blissful ignorance.

As an entrepreneur you must recognise that you have a lack of knowledge and then dedicate your time to learning how to overcome it.

The time spent at this stage is very much dependent on your willingness to learn and absorb new ideas and information.

2. You know you don’t know and it  bothers you

When you first start out doing something your head is filled full of random thoughts about what can go wrong.  Maybe your concerns lie with sales, maybe accounting. Many people will spend their time hiding from the concerns  by burying their heads in the sand or leaving them in the “to do”  pile. However, the more knowledge you acquire on the probelm you’re facing, then the sooner the fog will clear.

If your problem lies with sales, maybe you need to simplify your sales message so that you can more easily explain it to your customers and show them how what you do that helps them.  The more times you do this on a consistent basis the more your confidence will grow and your business will thank you for it. Your business will start to grow customer by customer. Its these conversations which build businesses.

Finding yourself a business mentor will help keep you focused when your confidence is down and keep you on track.

These will be the little challenges along the way. They will be the hurdles that you must clear to prove to yourself how much you really want it.

3. You know what to do and it requires consistent effort

It’s a fact of life that the more times that you do something then the better you will get. If you have a product or service it’s not a question of how good that product or service is. The success will depend on how many presentations or interactions that you have with your customers. Success is dependent on how much activity you do. It’s no coincidence that sales managers measure success of their sales people by the number of customer visits they make each day or each week.

The more avitivy that you do the more success you will have.


4. You do it without thinking

Psychologists call this stage unconscious competence.  This is where you have so much skill or practice that it becomes second nature to you and can perform the task easily. Sometimes even whilst performing other tasks or activities.  You will have achieved mastery where you may be able to teach others.  Entrepreneurs call this stage nirvana.

The move from step 2 to 3 will happen given time and of course practice.  The move to stage 4 will of course take longer and require a lot of practice.  How long all this will take will depend on you and how much you want success.

Where will you be in 5 years time?


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