Uncomfortable Situations Successful Entrepreneurs Can’t Escape

09/14/2016 10:25 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2016

Asking for more money.

Promoting the competition.

Taking a new approach when presenting to a group.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is sometimes the hardest thing ever. As an entrepreneur, the vision is clear, but the pathway to making it happen isn’t always paved with clarity. You know in your gut the potential for success is right around the corner, but it takes a series of efforts and sometimes difficult decision-making to get there.

A mechanic provides a customer with an estimate and starts on a repair job. Once he has removed parts and gotten a better look under the hood, he discovers more in-depth work is needed. Rather than investing the extra time and losing money on the job, the smart thing to do is to stop right there and go back to the customer to ask for more money. That’s not a pleasant conversation.

A restaurant owner is approached in his community about where the best place in town is to get a great breakfast. His burger joint doesn’t serve breakfast, but he highly recommends the establishment across the street which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He realizes that promoting the general area as a destination with lots to offer increases the likelihood of that diner sticking around for his next meal. The restaurant owner had to venture into uncomfortable territory by letting go of his fear of competition.

One of my own clients is a consultant who presents to business groups. I offered to review his presentation materials and provide feedback. The key visual element he used was a slide deck with screen after screen of bulleted lists. While this format may help him to remember what to cover as his talk progresses, audiences aren't drawn to reading words on a screen. Narrative storytelling is a more consumable method of delivery. Using a captivating and compelling image on each slide better serves to reinforce key points.

Adopting my suggestion means that a method my client had always relied upon to get through presentations now has to be abandoned. Breaking away from the comfort of a predictable pattern of how things have always been done is sometimes nerve-wracking. However, if we want to make improvements, we need to reach beyond the limits of our own perceived safety nets.

In my work in Web Development and Digital Marketing, I routinely meet with business owners. We join forces to ensure I have a thorough understanding of how their business is positioned in the marketplace and the advantages and obstacles they are facing. I outline steps going forward as part of an overall marketing strategy to help them reach their goals. It’s my job to address any roadblocks along the way. One scenario I’ve run into more than once is when a client comes to me to assess their company’s online presence. Typically, the existing website is not bringing in business as projected. I deliver a report that defines issues affecting the usability and/or functionality of their website. A task list is compiled to remedy any issues identified.

However, there is usually a preexisting relationship with the current web developer. In some cases that person is a relative or friend, or in working together the client has established rapport with the individual responsible for overseeing their website. Whatever the case, consider that your business website is an essential component on which the success of your business hinges going forward. If the person responsible for the usability and functionality of your website doesn’t possess the insight or skill to bring your website to the next level, it might be time to say goodbye. That conversation is likely to be uncomfortable -- but it’s one that is absolutely necessary for the health and wealth of your business going forward.

Believe me, I get it. I’m an introvert by nature. Dealing with people and how they may react to whatever you might have to say can bring about a sense of uncertainty.

Networking events have always been super stressful for me, as the idea of making small talk in a roomful of strangers was about as appealing as walking on shards of glass. However, I realized going into business on my own, there’s no more immediate way to let the surrounding community know what I have to offer than by talking to people face-to-face. Approaching someone with the intent of delivering a sales pitch is anything but inviting. However, starting up a conversation with genuine interest in helping others can open doors to new opportunities. I have since learned to take the initiative in introducing myself to other business people with a desire to put them at ease and learn about their business’s goals and challenges.

As entrepreneurs, taking difficult steps to enhance the overall well-being of business going forward forces us to reach beyond our everyday level of comfort. We all have doubts to conquer. Of course, there’s never any guarantee of success. However, if we don’t take risks in applying such efforts when necessary, we’ll never know what could have been if we did.

Karen Etchells is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Innovast Digital Marketing, helping businesses find success online with Website Design, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Management, and Email Marketing.

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