The cool – and challenging – thing about being an entrepreneur is that each day provides you with a number of new lessons to be learned. Even a solid mentoring program can’t prepare you for the inevitable trials and tribulations which face a person running their own business.
Embrace these opportunities. Learn from them. Realize that your entrepreneurial stripes are being each time you‘ve been taught a new lesson.
I’ve reached my 1.5 year anniversary of entrepreneurship. These are some of the lessons I’ve picked up along the way.
Keep your goal front and center or you’re bound to steer off course.
The work day is set. You’re ready to write 3 blog posts, work the phones, tweet up, hit Facebook, and….wait a second. It’s going to be 75 degrees out today? It hasn’t been that nice in months! Forget this, I’ll work later. Except your favorite shows are on later. Fine, it’s a “me” day. The following day, the same story.
Hold a clear cut goal in mind to avoid the temptations. You are the boss. Which means you must give yourself orders daily in the form of a clear-cut tasks list. It’s easiest to delegate tasks when knowing where you’re headed.
You can set short, medium, and long range goals for the business. Write them on a piece of paper, keep it in your pocket. It’s also a good idea to set a few material goals. Wallpaper pictures of your dream car or home on the laptop. The strong desire to acquire the finer things keeps you engaged in goal-achieving activities instead of busywork.
Live by the clock.
An alarm clock is the successful entrepreneur’s best friend. Use it early and often.
I’m most productive when waking between 5 and 6 in the morning. I also set the alarm every 1-2 hours for a mental wake-up call. It’s important to step away from what you’re doing. Prove to yourself that you can take a break. Becoming attached to your work is a no-no, at least if you want to keep sane.
Be driven, but not obsessed. You will burn out rather quickly unless you achieve a sense of balance early on in your entrepreneurial career.
Schedule your tasks in set time intervals. I like to divvy them up by the half hour or hour. Once the clock goes off on to the next task. No excuses unless something is pressing. This disciplines you into thinking that everything is equally important. Doing the little things well conditions you to do the big things well.
Don’t give up.
Cliched advice but so true. After the first few weeks, no business bites. No sales, no prospects, nothing. No biggie. Then a month goes by. No prospects. That’s alright, you heard it might be like this. Then 3 months. 1 prospect. Now you’re a little anxious. Then 6 months. A few sales might trickle in. Then another quiet month. Now panic sets in.
This is when the majority of entrepreneurs give up. When the capital begins to run out, when the late nights working aren’t paying off (but they always are), when the bills are late, when the creditor sends out the hit men, yeah, that’s when you must drill into your mind, Don’t Give Up.
Virtually everybody goes through this period. It’s called the persistence test. Napoleon Hill speaks of it in “Think and Grow Rich”. Until you pass the persistence test you won’t reap any rewards.
Don’t chase dollars. Follow your passion.
Chasing dollars is another reason why entrepreneurs fail. They think that green strips of paper will make them happy. Wrong.
Doing what you love to do – for a living – makes you happy. Creative ideas flow and you’ll move into inspired action when passionate about your work. Your passion becomes infectious. Inspired action causes positive attraction, meaning people will naturally become drawn to you. A love for your job, strong desire to succeed, and a good mentor is the recipe for entrepreneurial success.
Invest time in personal development.
To become a successful entrepreneur adopt the entrepreneur’s spirit. Most simply aren’t born with this mindset. It has to be cultivated.
If you’re not spending at least 1 – 2 hours daily in personal development you’re setting yourself up for years of disappointment. Unless you’re one of the select few born with a success consciousness the urge will be to control outside conditions; ie, outwork everyone by putting in 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.
One creative idea can attract tens of millions of dollars. Or billions, if it’s radical and world-changing. By learning to visualize, meditate, or perform affirmations you can attract creative ideas which you wouldn’t have thought of when slaving away endlessly using competitive, worn out business practices.
I’m all for devoting time and energy to your entrepreneurial endeavor. If you feel fine working 18 hours days, if it’s exciting, if it feels right, then go for it. Most people fools themselves though. Instead of trying harder, they should try smarter. They’d be better off working 8-12 hours, or even a little less, and spending a good 2 hours a day developing their minds.
Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Richard Branson are a few of the world’s billionaires who speak of having a vision. Meaning they took the time to visualize their goals in detail. When visualizing consistently you begin to attract ideas which lead to the manifestation of the the goal. Don’t ask me how it works, just trust the billionaires. I’ve used visualization pretty successfully myself, both with my entrepreneurial endeavors and personal life. Take the time to hone your mental tools with personal development. It’s worth it.
You’ll get your best ideas when you’re not looking for them.
Take down time. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not a sprint. The interesting part about down time is the fascinating phenomena of discovering powerful ideas when your mind is somewhere else other than on your business activities. Many successful business people, world-renowned scientists, and famous artists speak of a Eureka moment.
This post itself was a Eureka moment for me. I was tossing and turning in bed when the idea hit me; I remembered Ben’s gracious offer to write a guest post and knew that now was the time. Even though it’s 3 AM, I haven’t gotten any sleep, and my morning meditation arrives in 3 hours….it’s time to do this. Now! Inspired action.
When I sat in front of my workstation I had no clue what I was going to write. It just flowed quickly and easily. And I’m usually a 400 word per post guy. This a record length post for me, by far. It was because I took a step back from my business activities to allow my mind to travel toward a more creative place.
Work with fellow entrepreneurs. Then there’s no competition.
The idea of competition is a fallacy. If you work with fellow entrepreneurs in your niche no one can be against you.
Your only competition is you. Seriously. It’s your lack of creative ideas and unwillingness to work with your entrepreneurial neighbors.
This will be my 6th guest post, with a 7th coming soon. I’ve met some really nice and helpful fellow entrepreneurial bloggers while expanding my network. I’ve also extended the open invitation for any fellow blogger to post on Rbs Keys. I can’t imagine how small my network would have been had I looked at fellow entrepreneurs as competition.
Your fellow entrepreneurs can inspire you to be better. I’ve attracted many creative ideas by becoming a blog lizard. You know, a dude that spends hours on end hanging out at blogs.
There is no competition. We’re all together in this guys.
Find a good mentor.
This can be one person. It can be a group of people in your niche. It can be a person who is a particular source of inspiration. A live, in the flesh mentor usually works best, but whatever works for you. Some people can find inspiration in prose, others need it in person.
You’ll need guidance as well as a kick in the pants to get going when slacking. You’ll also need someone to tell you to take it easy when you’re burning out.
Most entrepreneurial opportunities command a steep learning curve. It helps to talk to someone who’s been there.
What lessons would my fellow entrepreneurs add?