4 Ways to Take Your Passion Project to the Next Level

What does success mean to you? Sitting down and honestly thinking about the answer to this question will help you know when it’s time to take your side hustle or freelance project to the next level. It will involve a lot of hard work, but by keeping the following tips in mind, you can gauge when you’re ready to take the leap.

Passion isn’t enough

Passion alone isn’t enough to make you a successful entrepreneur — hard work is a crucial part of the victory. When you reach the top, keep climbing, because you can’t take for granted that you’ll stay there. Celebrate by putting even more effort into your business.

After the Cowboys won the Super Bowl, we didn’t get a lot of downtime. We went back to Dallas to train instead of going to banquets and tours. Becoming champions meant that all of our opponents were going to be playing their best games against us, and we had to anticipate that. It’s when you get complacent after a big victory that you need strong leadership.

Related: Former NFL Quarterback Turned Motivational Speaker on What it Means to Be a Leader

Goal setting

Without setting goals, you won’t be able to measure your success or know what accomplishments or milestones to celebrate along the way. It’s important to establish goals. Start by making SMART plans: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based goals. These criteria will help make your goals easier to stick to and achieve, which also means that you’ll have the motivation to keep going when times get tough, resulting in a better chance of success.

We did this with Coach Landry’s “Quarterback School.” During the offseason, we would break down what happened, analyze what we and the other teams brought to the game, and set goals. These goals would take the form of yards per rushing attempt or average gain on first down instead of just being the best team in the league. Our specific goals on the way to winning the Super Bowl were incremental, reasonable and attainable with the right goal-setting methods. Focusing on goals in smaller steps helps you see where you need to improve in small ways that add up to big successes for your business.

Willingness to make mistakes

Too many aspiring entrepreneurs are afraid of making mistakes. Often, this fear is so overwhelming, it keeps those with an idea from even putting their concepts to the test in the first place.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—some of life’s most valuable lessons are best learned through failure.

Avoiding risks might feel good in the short term, but it’s not the mindset that’s going to make you a successful entrepreneur. Unless you push yourself and your limits, you’ll never be able to succeed in the ways that you hope to.

This requires reshaping your thoughts. It means being able to see and embrace failure as an opportunity to do better and learn rather than seeing it as an absolute defeat. I’ve personally experienced this many times, and I’ve learned that you can’t reach your true potential without failing. Sometimes that means falling on your face again and again. But at least falling means that you’re going somewhere, and once you pick yourself up again, you’ll know better the next time you face a similar challenge.

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Turning obstacles into opportunities

You can’t avoid obstacles if you hope to start a successful business. Turn obstacles into opportunities and make sure your plan is flexible enough to help you take advantage of them. Embracing obstacles can help you flex your creative muscles. Facing unavoidable circumstances means finding a way to succeed in spite of them. Flexing your entrepreneurial muscle and thinking of new ways to overcome challenges is a much better use of your time than focusing on what you can’t control.

Rise above your fear of failure by embracing the kind of outlook and attitude that lets you believe in yourself, your abilities and your business. When reshaping your mindset, consider your strengths and remember the steps that you need to take to achieve the goals you’ve set.

Stay focused on your big picture goals. Breaking concentration means starting to notice obstacles, which makes them look bigger than they truly are. Don’t give yourself the chance to give up on your original plan — your SMART goal doesn’t have to get completely thrown out just because you need to find a new way to achieve it.

In conclusion

Entrepreneurial success requires hard work and risks. It means taking an honest look at what’s driving you, what you need to do to improve, and not getting so comfortable that you avoid the challenges that can help you and your business grow. It’s only when you commit to taking the steps to becoming a stronger leader that success follows.

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