Dear future entrepreneur,
I want to share my sincere thoughts with you about owning your own business to help you on your journey. Separating yourself from the security of a paycheck and going out on your own is exactly like skydiving; it’s risky, but also rewarding.
Five years in, I’m still happy I exited instead of safely riding the plane down. I love this challenge and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.
As you think about your goals of owning your own business, here are a few things I’ve learned that I think will provide value.
Had I known everything that was ahead of me, I may never have started. An ounce of naiveté and a shade of ignorance are two ingredients that I’m grateful for. “Not knowing any better,” propelled me forward with a full head of steam. I couldn’t be deterred.
People pay their bills late, credit card fees take their toll and at some point, you’ll be worrying about money. One of the best insights I ever received was from my father and fellow entrepreneur. He said, “It’s not the money you make, but rather the money you don’t spend that helps solve tight cash flow.” Seems pretty obvious, but that reframing resonated. Be lean with your operation as something unexpected always pops up.
Save money each month. Having a reserve gives peace of mind and allows you to say no to the clients you don’t want. You’ll learn that not every customer or client is for you.
Invest in yourself. This could mean with exercise or attending a conference or by continuing your education to improve your skills. More than once, I’ve said I can’t afford to do something, but ended up investing the money because I couldn’t afford not to. I haven’t regretted a single dollar invested in myself, yet.
When starting out, survival is all-encompassing. Adrenaline fuels long hours to make it work. Surviving is actually the easy bit. Once you begin to scale and add employees and processes, expenses begin to inflate. This is when things become challenging. Prepare accordingly.
Here’s your long-term strategy for success and the one thing I want you to remember from this list. Exceed your staff’s expectations followed by the expectations of your customers in that order.
Running your business is stressful. We are not our best selves when stressed and fatigued. Exercise. If not for your waistline, at least for your mental health. You’ll need the perspective and release.
Don’t take every client that comes your way because you need money. This is why you need to save. Focus on exceeding expectations and the money usually takes care of itself.
No one will know how good you are unless you show your expertise. Blog or Vlog all you know. Create content, share your thoughts and produce value. Give it all away and it will come back to you. You won’t have time for this but make the time. It’s totally necessary.
Take heed. What Google says, goes. Know what Google wants because the success of your business depends on it. Optimize your website, maximize your Google Business Page, and drive site traffic with AdWords. Understand how to be found and rank well, or hire someone who can do it for you. Being invisible within search engines stunts your opportunity for growth, big time!
One bad apple spoils the bunch. Be a gatekeeper of your organization. With the time you’ll be investing to make your business work, you need to do it with like-minded and passionate people. Know your values and write them down as this will provide clarity in all decisions especially when hiring.
My best ideas take place when I’m reading and learning from other business people when I’m away from my business. Turn off your phone and read, listen to podcasts and allow yourself to dream unfettered from the burdens of what you need to get done today. Ideally, do all this away from the office.
As your business scales, efficiency can be compromised and time is your greatest asset. Utilize tools (even if costly) to allow for improved time management. Time will become the most valuable thing you can hold onto.
If you’re unhappy at home, it will feed into your work. Having the support of your spouse or significant other is critical because your time will be spent more in your business than anything else. Not every partner will tolerate that. It’s important that an honest conversation is had on what owning a business looks like as it usually entails 60+ hour weeks as the norm.
More than anything else, be prepared to work really hard. Throw the misperception of work-life balance out the window when starting your business. There is no balance. The grueling pace of work with little initial return is the real challenge of being an entrepreneur. If this doesn’t deter you, then you’ve got a great chance at success.
While I work a lot of hours, the pros have outweighed the cons and I’ve enjoyed my journey. If you’ve got questions please contact me! Always happy to help! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Best of luck!
Hi James…you have nailed it with this article. As an entreprenuer in progress, it is inspiring for me to better comprehend this wisdom and associated context. Bootstrapping a startup is a marathon, not a sprint.
Thanks very much, Ronnie! I see good things with your future business!
Wow! Thank you so much for this post! This is something that I really needed since I am graduating soon. I’ve always wanted to start my own business ever since I was a kid. The line that really struck me was what your father said “It’s not the money you make, but rather the money you don’t spend that helps solve tight cash flow.” To be honest, I am so nervous into facing the real world, I really thank you for this great post. I hope that this would be able to guide me in the future.
Sylvia, I’m glad you were able to find some value in this post. The line from my Dad has also stuck with me. A good piece of wisdom right there! Don’t worry about being nervous – that’s a good thing; just don’t let the nerves paralyze you from taking action. Best of luck!
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