Entrepreneurship – it’s the dream for more and more people these days. We live in a world that continues to devalue the personal approach to business. It’s all about the sale, about the profits, with little regard to loyalty and longevity.
It’s a weird system we’ve created, where we look at college and a good job as proof of a successful life and promising future.  We have a slew of college prep schools where we guarantee application to and acceptance at a 4-year college. This is the path we set our children upon…but how many of us reading this article are paying off school debt while struggling to start, launch and grow a business?  I know I am. I received an amazing education and it definitely shaped who I am today, but looking back I wish I had seen the fork in the road, the place where I could have detoured from the societal norm and pursued an idea, a dream.
Many Entrepreneurs don’t find the confidence or determination to strike out on their own until a tipping point occurs. For some, it’s starting a family and realizing that the perfect future they’ve been pursuing also means researching, finding and trusting a childcare center. For others, it’s the moment they realize that the path they are on doesn’t fill their soul, doesn’t provide the need to create that drives so many of us.
If you find yourself pondering Entrepreneurship, for personal, financial or any other reason, there are a few things you should know.  Below are the first 5 of my 10 Tips.
  1. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.  Never be afraid of hard work. Something that seemed so natural a few generations ago, something that was revered and considered a key part of a good work ethic has become a challenge to circumvent. We hear things like “Work Smart, Not Hard” and rather than being a force for efficiency, it becomes a mantra for those trying to find the easiest way to get a job done. I am not opposed to that in theory, but there are many times when hard work is the shortest route to achieve your goal. Spending 45 minutes searching google for an example of the best way to write an email might have been spent buckling down and just writing that email. (don’t worry, we’ve all done it!)
  2. You can do it all, but you shouldn’t.  I am a DIY gal at heart. I have taught myself photoshop, illustrator, and countless other software so I could save the money I would have paid a professional, and instead, I created what my business needed myself. In the beginning when I had more time than money this was usually a decent strategy, but looking back I wonder how much faster my business would have grown if I had been marketing instead of designing logos, business cards, and websites. I could find and work with great people for affordable prices (Fiverr anyone?) but at that time, and still today, I am the best at marketing my business and securing future profitability. 
  3. Time spent planning is an investment.  Mind mapping, business planning, goal setting, these are all planning tools that often get brushed aside during the startup phase. They are seen as something we will get to one day, but that day rarely comes. These tools can be essential to identifying your ideas, narrowing your niche and creating strategies for success. Don’t shortchange yourself by skipping over them.
  4. Big or small, you need a business plan.  Business plans don’t have to be 100 pages with charts, graphs, and endless financial worksheets. Business planning is an exercise where you put pen to paper and make sure your idea has merit. Developing a solid business plan can serve as your validation of your ideas and can create a roadmap for your business for years to come. 
  5. Surround yourself with positive supporters, but listen objectively to the naysayer.  We have all been there, you have an idea that has you dancing around, talking excitedly to anyone who will listen and ready to take on the world…and then you talk to a Debby Downer who rains on your startup parade and has you doubting your future as an entrepreneur. When you are launching a business one of the best moves you can make is to find a group of like-minded individuals who can support you on your journey. They will help keep your motivation up, help you work through issues you encounter, and serve as a sounding board for future ideas. They will be your safe harbor when it feels like success is so very far away. Refuge with them, let their enthusiasm feed yours and keep you motivated, but occasionally invite in constructive criticism. Understand that the very best idea ever won’t be successful unless there is a market for it. 
As I wrote this, so many more thoughts were churning and struggling to make the cut…but these really resonated with me!
Here’s to building great things…one day at a time!