The Missing Ingredient in the Recipe for Success

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5.4 million new business applications were filed in the United States last year, setting a new record and smashing the old one set in 2020 by 1 million. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 20% of businesses fail within their first two years, 45% close within the first five years, and 65% by the 10th year, with only 25% making it to 15 years. What makes one business profitable and another doomed for failure? Why are so many entrepreneurs left broken down on the road to success?

There are a number of reasons, such as poor marketing, failing to offer a product the public wants and not adapting to the changing market. There is, however, a missing ingredient in the recipe for business success that isn’t discussed in studies or quantified by statistics, an ingredient that is impossible to replicate yet incredibly easy to attain.

The missing ingredient for business success is…you.

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I’m the owner of Look Ahead Marketing, helping heart-centered entrepreneurs find their unique superpowers to succeed in business. I firmly believe that the reason so many entrepreneurs fail is because they are trying to be something, and someone, they’re not.

I see this happen consistently, especially when someone is just starting out in the online business world. They see the top talents in the space, like Tony Robbins and Amy Porterfield, and they think they have to copy what those people are doing in order to be successful. But inevitably, they fail and they have no idea why as they were so busy “modeling success.” What they didn’t do was be themselves. The reason Tony and Amy are uber-successful is because they are busy being Tony and Amy, not Dean or Jenna. While it’s always a wise idea to follow a proven path to hit your goals faster, you still want to be walking in your own shoes, not a pair you’ve borrowed from someone else.

I speak from past experience. I originally studied to be an engineer, following the safe and expected path my parents had laid out for their smart son. Although I graduated at the top of his class, I realized I was not passionate about a career in facts and figures. I changed course and embarked on my professional path as a marketer, sparking my love of bringing solutions and people together.

While it’s always a wise idea to follow a proven path to hit your goals faster, you still want to be walking in your own shoes, not a pair you’ve borrowed from someone else.

One solution I created was opening a photography studio with my wife, Learn Photography Company, focused on teaching hobbyists how to take professional-level photos. We’ve since grown it into a franchise across Canada with both in-person and online programs, counting more than 5,000 shutterbugs who have graduated from one of Learn Photography’s 12 courses.

Teaching thousands the science and art of taking great photos is akin to finding the magic to succeeding in any business endeavor, I discovered. While anyone can be given a manual and told to follow it to the letter, they are not guaranteed to succeed, no matter how detailed the instructions are.

I think that most people approach business as having to be like an engineer when the reality is that success is actually found over on the side of artistry. Being an engineer is like following the recipe exactly but where the artistry comes into play is the tasting, the adjusting to add that certain bit of personality that will make the dish uniquely delicious. Think of famous chefs who write cookbooks. Millions of home chefs will follow these recipes that are unbelievably good yet their dishes never reach the height of the start chef. Why? Because they have the instructions, but they don’t have the artistry.

The same happens in the business world. Entrepreneurs buy courses and expect them to be the “magic road map” to success, but what they don’t realize is that they need to put their own spin on things. A successful business needs to be built around you as you’re that missing ingredient that elevates a recipe from OK to exceptional.

A successful business needs to be built around you as you’re that missing ingredient that elevates a recipe from OK to exceptional.

The other trap I see new entrepreneurs fall into is the need for perfection. They don’t launch because their website isn’t perfect or their logo isn’t exactly what they want or they want to finesse their sales page before it goes live. Things are never 100% for them so they continue to tinker away and before they know it, they’re looking at their P&L statement six months later wondering why they’re in the red.

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Success is in the mess. It’s better to get your offer out and sold using a simple Google Doc rather than waiting months to launch with the “perfect” sales page. You can always adjust as you go along but if you never get your offer in front of your audience, you’ll never make a sale. Take action, be messy and make money.

I’m set to hit more than $1 million in sales this year after starting my online business only two years ago. Looking back, I wish someone had given me the following three tips for success when I started out:

  • Find a mentor. My mentality was always “look at how smart I am, I can do this all on my own.” If I’d put my ego aside and asked for help from someone who was further along the journey, I could have taken a significant shortcut to hit the 7-figure mark. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Find a mentor you click with and who has walked the walk.
  • Be true to yourself. Show up every day as the best version of yourself. Be unabashedly you as that is the secret ingredient your business needs to succeed.
  • Education is hugely important. Read, read and read some more! For the price of lunch, you can buy a book that has someone’s hard-earned wisdom that can provide the road map of where you need to go next in your business. Take advantage of business books as they will help you go farther, faster. Also, become part of a community of other entrepreneurs, as this is a journey that can lonely and full of challenges but there is strength in numbers.

Business can be hard but being successful can be a lot easier than you think, if you remember to always add in the secret ingredient of you into the recipe.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource for learning basic business skills, the latest digital technology and more.

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