The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What must every entrepreneur know about startup success?” is written by Grant Cardone, author of The New York Times bestseller Be Obsessed or Be Average.
We’ve all read generic books and articles that tell you to “follow your dreams.” While that advice might offer inspiration, it doesn’t show you how to make permanent life changes that transform your business for the better.
Investing in a new business is dangerous. Your time, energy, resources, and name are all at risk to make money. If you want to tear down the cocoon of “average” that’s been so tightly spun around you by society, you need to become obsessed.
Being obsessed with business expansion is critical to success—it’s senior to strategy, pricing, timing, competition, or people. Place every ounce of your energy, time, money, and other resources into growing your revenue. Prioritizing the top line is more important than good margins. Shift your energy into offensive spending and investing. Make, raise, or borrow enough money so that you can reinvest 30% to 40% into expansion.
Be willing to risk waste in order to grow. Return on investment is simply a lie you tell yourself to justify not spending money. Invest knowing that not all of your investment will have visible returns. There’s not one ad, marketing campaign, branding campaign, or social media post that I’ve done where I regret spending money—you always need more exposure.
Years before the economic crash of 2008, when my successes were accumulating, I started to ease off and wasn’t focused on expansion. I lost my purpose for a time, so my obsession was beginning to soften, and I became much less busy. I watered down my successful creed of relentless push, total commitment, and demanding work ethic in favor of finding time to “relax,” to step off the playing field, to take it easy with “reward yourself” weekends, five-hour golf games, dinners out, “quality time” at home, and a whole lot of introspection.
If I had just kept feeding my obsessive pursuits, I would have been in a completely different position when the markets collapsed that year. I would have been able to buy competitors for nothing, take market share that I used to have to fight for, and buy real estate for pennies on the dollar. I would have had the courage and the cash to expand my empire a hundredfold. This is why you must always keep pushing to grow.
It takes guts and courage to make money today. If you don’t invest in yourself, don’t expect customers to invest in you. Put your money at risk and into the marketplace. Get obsessed, and you will already be ahead of most entrepreneurs.
Here are three tips to help you stay hungry:
Beat the sun up
Get more done than all of your competition by waking up first. If I go to sleep at 9 and get seven full hours of sleep, it’s 4 in the morning. That means I’d have a three or four-hour head start on everybody else. Be the first one up in your company and be the first one up in your neighborhood. While your competitors are still having their first cup of coffee, you’ve already finished dressing, working out, and writing your goals. Getting more done in less time will help you stay hungry.
Never be normal
People who take normal levels of action are most prevalent in our society. They spend their lives taking enough action to appear average and create normal lives, marriages, and careers, but never do enough to create big success. Average, by definition, assumes “less than extraordinary.” But you’ll never reach true success by being less than extraordinary. Put your big ideas out there and work to make them reality, even if they are risky.
Find your purpose
To understand what your purpose is and to keep fueling it, you need to constantly ask yourself questions: What excites me now? What am I willing to do for no money? What skills or talents do I have that I ignore? What do I want to be remembered for? If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do? These questions will open your mind up to so many directions, inspire you to accomplish great things, and keep you alert to opportunities in sync with your obsession.