As an entrepreneur, you have two voices whispering inside your ears …
“The Inspiration Voice” and the “Follow the Herd Voice.”
One will lead you to success; the other, many times, will lead you to wasted time and disappointment.
One of the greatest gifts an entrepreneur has is fresh inspiration that comes at a sudden moment in time — out of nowhere. It’s that idea that suddenly pops into your mind, followed by a huge explanation point that can be felt throughout your whole body.
We have all heard the phrase “herd mentality.” This term is derived from the word “herd,” meaning group of animals, and “mentality” implying a certain frame of mind. In essence, the term herd mentality is when you see a large number of people act in the same way, at the same time.
The greatest enemy of the entrepreneur and their gift of inspiration is following the herd.
Inspiration is the food that feeds the entrepreneur; it brings us life, and gives us that courage and energy to keep going, striving to create and build that which the world has not yet seen. Food from the herd is not the same, is not pure, and following it wears us down, drains us, and leads us many times to disillusionment and disappointment.
As entrepreneurs, we must protect ourselves from the herd mentality; we must guard the creative inspiration in us, and follow that inspiration voice deep down inside us — free from being tainted or influenced by what the herd is saying.
I started my walk as on entrepreneur when I was 21. I was young and naïve, living in Maui, and one day had a moment of inspiration to open a tanning salon in Kauai (Yes, a tanning salon in Hawaii). No one was doing it; most would say it was insane because who in the world would need a tanning salon in Hawaii? Yet I had a sense it could work. You see, Kauai is the “garden island” and why do you think it was called the garden island? Because it rains ALL THE TIME! When the tourists came, part of their plan was to come home with a tan. There was no way they were going to come back from their vacation without a tan. So they flocked to my salon!
The other market I served was those who worked all day in the tourist industry and wanted to be tan, yet didn’t want to spend their free time on the beach … they flocked to my tanning salon. My idea and inspiration paid off! I ran it for three years, sold it, and today it’s still running strong 23 years later.
If I would have consulted the “herd” and the “business experts” at that time, I probably would have never stepped-out to do it. The herd’s voice would have silenced my inspiration and been my greatest enemy!
Since that day, I have added many stories to my life just like this one. I have started and sold three businesses. It’s not because I am some special business expert. It’s because they where unique, fresh and ahead of the herd.
For me, fighting against the herd’s voice has become my biggest challenge. Whenever I listen to it, I mostly fail. The herd’s voice silences the creativity and inspiration in me, and I was created to bring something new into this world — not following and copying what everyone else is doing.
You see, as entrepreneurs, we are called to birth something new! We are leaders … not followers. We are forerunners.
If this resonates with you, I want to encourage you to keep walking outside the box, resist the temptation to do what everyone around you is doing … no matter how much everyone says it’s great. Once everyone is doing something … it’s the herd! You have joined the herd and thus cut off your inspiration supply!
I remember the first months after starting my Charlotte Entrepreneurs Organization (now 900-plus members strong). I had never been to a network meeting or entrepreneur meeting before. What I did was to put myself into the mind of an entrepreneur, think about what they would like, what would feed them, and what would bring value to them.
Soon after starting it, it grew very quickly and everyone would tell me how much they loved coming and how different my meetings were from other network groups. Yet I never knew the difference, because I had never attended other groups to see what they all do, and thus, my creativity was not influenced and it was new, fresh and successful. It was successful because it was not influence by what everyone else was doing!
Think about the companies or organizations around you that stand out. Why do they stand out? Is it because they have followed the herd and implemented all the “must dos” or is it because they were inspired to birth something fresh and new?
You see, listening to the herd’s voice will take away the fresh and new, and you will just blend in with the herd. Follow the herds voice and you join them.
The herd’s voice says: you need to have this and that because everyone is doing it. You need to have a blog, social media, capture emails, give away free ebooks, etc. Yet, the truth is … because everyone is doing it, it does NOT stand out anymore. It did at the beginning, when it was leading edge, yet it is now the same as everyone else is doing — not leading edge.
Right now “content” is the buzz and must-have for website traffic. Well, that may have worked at the beginning, but imagine how much content you are competing with if everyone is doing it. If everyone is doing it, it will no longer be effective!
The people doing this very early on where successful, but once the herd caught on, it changed.
The inspiration voice says: don’t do anything just because others are doing it. Stand out by not doing what others do. Wait to hear for inspiration no matter how long it takes.
As a copywriter, I am truly challenged with this. All the other copywriters on the internet have free ebooks to capture email addresses. They all have blogs for traffic. As a writer, these are things I could produce quite easy, yet this would all take so much of my limited, valuable, copywriting time away from doing what I do best — writing my clients copy! Am I about writing sales copy for clients, or am I about building email lists, blogging and providing free ebooks?
My belief is that once it is “common” it no longer special.
At the same time, there is the thought that if everyone is doing it, it must work. Yet every time I walk into that territory I find myself seeing no fruit and a lot of wasted time and effort … and I hear that voice inside me that says “you are not called to follow.” I seem to only succeed when I follow the inspiration voice.
For those of you who can relate to what I have spoken about, I hope this encourages you to have the confidence to not join the heard, but be the leader and forerunner you where created to be. Have patience and wait for that inspiration. Evaluate the business ideas you see around you and choose only those which you feel strongly would complement your business.
In time, you will see something wonderful born into this world and I can’t wait to see it!
Copyright 2010 by Christine Alexander, WriteStrategy.