Contrary to what musicians and thespians would have you believe, encores are tough.
It turns out there’s really no paint-by-numbers magic formula for success, and it can be equally tricky to repeat your success a second time, especially if you’re not exactly sure how you got there to begin with.
If that’s you, don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Many solopreneurs and creative independents often find that there’s more at stake to keeping a business successful than there is to making it successful in the first place.
The good news is that there are several keys to repeat success that can move you forward and help you strike gold a second (or third, or fourth, or a hundredth) time. You just have to know what they are.
Why Are First-Time Successes So Hard to Repeat?
Sometimes being successful can feel a bit like being struck by lightning – most people never experience it, some people do, and a very few people actually experience it twice.
While that’s not necessarily true (there are many, many successful people in the world), it still can feel that way, especially if you’re trying to be the person who gets struck twice.
So why is it that so many first-time business owners fail after their first go around? There may be a few key mindsets that keep people from moving forward.
You have a “what’s next?” attitude
It’s not uncommon to exert an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources to launch your business the first time, which means that by the time you hit success, you’re either already burnt out and wanting to coast, or you’re looking for the next adventure.
Many entrepreneurs tend to fall into the latter category. Your drive to discover new things, take risks, and move things to the next level got you here, but once you’ve “arrived” you’re ready to move on to the next challenge.
Instead of taking the time to take stock of your success, refine your process, and determine how you go there, you’re already off on the next project or tracking down the next big lead.
For some, this means spending your career in constant development mode, with a string of first-time successes but no solid understanding of how to take things to the next level.
You’re experiencing expectation anxiety
If you’ve set the bar high the first time around, you may think that there’s no way you’ll be able to reach that same level the second time.
Consider it the “returning champ” syndrome. The first time you win a gold medal, you’re stoked. The second time, you’re nervous. There’s more at stake. You’re the returning champion. You need to show everyone that you’ve still got what it takes.
If you win yet again, there’s even more pressure. What if you fall to the newest challenger? They’re younger, they’re stronger, and they have a drive to win.
Instead of being able to enjoy the experience and do your best to face your competition, the weight of expectation falls on your shoulders, making relatively easy tasks seem impossibly tough.
You weren’t emotionally ready for success
The reality is that sometimes people really do just stumble on success. Just like people really do randomly get struck by lightning.
The problem with this is that it’s easy to get swept along for the ride and forget that repeat success takes intention. If you’ve had everything handed to you (relatively speaking) the first time around, then you’re not going to be sure what to do with yourself once it’s your turn to take the reigns.
Or it could be that you did have intention, and that you were able to reach all your goals and all your dreams came true, but there’s some nagging doubt in the back of your mind about your own self-worth.
Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe you’re not good enough. Maybe you should give up.
These types of thoughts can take even the most robust person and reduce them to a pile of ashes. If you haven’t dealt with the weight of underlying doubt, you may find it hard to achieve even greater heights the second time around.
The Best Ways to Find Repeat Success
So how do you overcome these pitfalls and make sure that you can repeat success? The key is to start shifting those negative mindsets into positive ones.
Believe that you’ll be successful again
In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, she talks about the power of the unconscious mind to affect success:
“When our subconscious beliefs are out of alignment with the things and experiences we want in our conscious minds (and hearts), it creates confusing conflicts between what we’re trying to create and what we’re actually creating. It’s like we’re driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake.”
She writes that the key to success is in shifting your beliefs about what success could actually look like (dream bigger!), and about your own ability to reach it (you have to believe you can do it).
“The first key to ridding yourself of limiting subconscious beliefs,” she says, “is to become aware of them.”
Surround yourself with people who believe in you
Jen also notes that it’s important to surround yourself with people who will encourage you to succeed, whether that’s a team of people in your business itself – co-workers, employees, etc. – or in your personal life – friends, family, and loved ones.
“Even though they’re often doing it out of love and concern, having others smear their fear and worry all over you is the last thing you need when you’re strengthening your superhero muscles to step out and take some risks, so I highly recommend keeping your mouth shut around people who are gonna bring you down. Instead, seek out those who are already totally kicking butt (or who are lifting up their foot to do so), or people who you know will be supportive, and confide in them.”
This is especially true for solopreneurs who are doing everything on their own. It’s important to find a mentor that can coach you through the tough parts of taking your business to the next level.
Even if you can’t find someone to coach you personally, find someone who’s doing what you’re doing and pull ideas. See what’s worked for them, learn about what hasn’t worked from them, and match it up with your own habits and practices until you see success.
Track Your Success
Finally, one of the best things you can do to repeat success is to find a way to objectively measure the ways you’ve been successful before.
Have people contacted you through your website? Or do you get more hits from LinkedIn? Do you still have a stack of 1,000 business cards lying around that no one has used? Do you have people emailing you about how satisfied they were with your work?
As much as you can, take note of what’s worked in the past and ask yourself, “Why?” Why did this technique work the way it did? Is there a variation you can use to make it work again? Do you need to change any techniques for a new market?
It’s also a good idea to gather feedback from your clients and customers. Remember that you’re trying to figure out the most effective way to run your business, so it’s okay to A/B test yourself like you would a product (after all, you’re selling you).
Repeating success doesn’t have to be as rare as lightning striking, but it will take a shift in mindsets and a few strategic actions in order to happen.
Make sure that you fully believe that you’re capable of achieving success the second time around (you are!). If you’re not fully convinced that you deserve more success, or you’re not sure how to set new goals or dream bigger, ask yourself why, and try to suss out any limiting beliefs that may be hindering your progress.
In practical terms, be sure to track and measure what has worked for you in the past. If there was a certain marketing campaign that worked well, take note of it and try it again. Don’t be afraid to test new techniques or to fall back on the old standbys. Just be sure to do something and not just sit around waiting for the clouds to gather.