Owning and running an ecommerce business should be rewarding and satisfying. It should provide a sense of well-being, creativity, drive, and success. Unfortunately, for some business owners, it doesn’t.
Sometimes entrepreneurs feel inadequate. They feel stressed, overworked, and defeated. Worse still, a leader’s feelings and attitudes may influence the entire enterprise. Negativity and doubt could spread through the team and make problems worse.
While some feelings stem from business realities such as profitability or inventory problems, sometimes how you view your business — good or bad — depends on the rules you use to define success. You may even be setting yourself up for failure.
“At the base of every emotional upset you’ve ever had with another human being is a rules upset,” wrote Tony Robbins in his 1991 book, “Awaken the Giant Within.”
Robbins, one of the world’s best-known life coaches, argues that each of us has a set of rules that we use to govern our relationships and experiences. Thus, when an ecommerce entrepreneur feels like he or she isn’t getting enough done or experiences a sense of inadequacy, it is because a personal rule has been violated.
While some rules can be empowering and helpful, others essentially demand failure.
For example, if a business owner values customer service above all else, she may build her company around providing the best service. Her brain will subconsciously develop a rule to define what it means to be successful at customer service. This rule could be something like this:
For me to feel successful, every customer must have a fantastic online shopping experience. If for any reason, a shopper doesn’t have a great experience, he should have his problem resolved the moment he calls in or chats in. What’s more, after the problem has been solved, he will leave a positive review explaining how exemplary customer service won him back.
Effectively, this rule would make it impossible to feel successful. It would be what Robbins calls “disempowering.” It would lead to negative feelings.
Fortunately, it is possible to identify a disempowering rule. Ask yourself, “What does it take for me to feel successful?” Write or type your answer, and do a little soul searching. Be honest about what has to happen to feel successful in your ecommerce business (and in your life).
With the written answer in front of you, consider one or more of three disempowering traits as Robbins defined them.
- “It’s a disempowering rule if it’s impossible to meet [emphasis original]. If your criteria are so complex or varied or intense that you can’t ever win the game of life, clearly you have a disempowering rule.”
- “A rule is disempowering if something that you can’t control determines whether your rule has been met or not [emphasis original]. For example, if other people have to respond to you in a certain way or if the environment has to be a certain way, you clearly have a disempowering rule.”
- “A rule is disempowering if it gives you only a few ways to feel good and lots of ways to feel bad [emphasis original].
The example customer-service-success rule, above, has all three of these disempowering traits. It is complex and impossible to achieve. It relies, in part, on the customer’s behavior, and it is far more likely to make the entrepreneur feel like she is failing.
The good news is that you can change or realign your rules, and in so doing, set yourself up for success.
The aim here is not to set a bar so low that just waking up in the morning is a win, but rather to set a goal that empowers you. It should be achievable. It should make feeling positive and successful a likelihood, and it should pull you in the direction of your business goals.
Consider your current rules for business success. If they are disempowering, change them. Rewrite the rules to be items (i) you control, (ii) occur often, and (iii) you’re likely to achieve.
With this in mind, an example of an empowering rule for customer-service success might read like this:
I feel successful anytime I empower my employees to serve customers. I feel successful anytime I provide a training opportunity for my employees to prepare them better to take care of our customers. I feel successful when I make business decisions with our customers in mind. I feel successful anytime I engage customers.
With a rule like this, being a customer-service-focused ecommerce entrepreneur would be satisfying. Just as it should.