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 and 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 schools that recruit students by promising 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 9-5 isn’t the lifestyle they want. For others it’s the moment they realize that the path they are on doesn’t fill their soul, doesn’t provide the opportunity to create that drives so many of us.
If you find yourself pondering Entrepreneurship,for personal, financial or any other reason, here is a bit of advice from me to you.
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, 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 been spent buckling down and just writing that email.
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 softwares so I could save the money and create what my business needs 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?) and spend my time doing what I’m the best at… marketing my business and securing future profitability.
Time spent planning is an investment. Mindmapping, 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.
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.
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 and be 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 criticsm. Understand that even the very best idea ever had won’t be successful unless there is a market for it. Your outlier, your naysayer can help you find balance.
Develop an inspiration board and at least 3 affirmations. When the going gets tough, the entrepreneur needs to remember why they got started. What was their driving factor, their tipping point moment, their WHY. Create a visual that can be printed, framed, laminated, etc Keep it handy and look at it each day. Find at least 3 affirmations that help create positive connotations with your goals. Say them to yourself, shout them out loud, write them down, whatever works for you, but do it each and every day!
Start as your mean to go on. Create your systems and stick with them from day one. Review your numbers on Friday, write blog posts on Monday, review social media needs monthly, whatever you determine to be ongoing, regular business needs, carve out time and make them a priority.
Build a business that works for YOU! Building a business, your business, takes time, effort, late nights, early mornings and more. Make sure that you are looking at the business you are building from every angle. Is this a business you will still be happy running 10 years from now. Think about how it will be when you are successful and have achieved your goals. Can you see what that will look like and how the life you want to be living will fit in? Don’t build a business that needs you in the office 40 hours a week if your plan is to work 15 hours a week from a beach!
Numbers don’t lie. Make it an essential part of you week to review the numbers. Good, bad or ugly, numbers don’t lie. Know if your business is on track, behind or exceeding expectations. Knowledge is power, and knowing how your business is performing is vital to becoming and staying successful.
See failure as part of the path to success. Few people succeed the first time, for most,success was a winding road. Try to enjoy the journey and always view failure as a learning experience. Failure is only a roadblock if you don’t detour and find a new way, a new path to achieve your objective. Never stop trying.