Running a business sounds appealing, but the reality of it speaks for itself. As an entrepreneur you step into a world where nobody is telling you what to do, or what to avoid, and your income depends solely on you. Having been an entrepreneur for a couple of years now, I don’t think I’ve arrived. But I am further on my journey than some of you. This is why I decided to put together a list of 10 things I wish I knew before I started my business. My hope is that you will learn from my mistakes and avoid them.
1. Branding can wait
In the early years of my business I was obsessed with branding. My first website took over 10 months to get done, my graphics always had to be top notch, my focus was to grow my idea into the “next big thing”. This ate loads of my time, energy and resources, taking me away from where my focus SHOULD have be. It’s important to understand that as you’re building a business, you can’t make it bigger than it is.Your brand will evolve and grow as you do. Click To Tweet
There will be time to focus on this, but the time is not when you are trying to get your business off the ground.
2. Focus on what you’re good at
Running a business you know nothing about, or even worse, don’t enjoy, will completely drain your energy. You might end up making good money at it (just like I did), but at the end you will find out that you’re more stressed than happy. I’ve seen way too many entrepreneurs close the doors of their business simply because the results couldn’t bring the satisfaction necessary to keep it going. Before you invest your time and energy into a business, make sure that it’s something you’re passionate about as well as something that fills the needs in the market place.
3. Get better!
None of us were good when we started. It takes time, action and persistence to improve. Do whatever it takes to get better at the important tasks. Become one of the best in your industry, choose to learn, grow, apply and share your knowledge and experiences with others out there. Choose to focus on personal and business growth and you will never run out of goals to pursue.
4. Guard your boundaries
It’s easy to fall into a trap of endless work. In the early stages of my business I remember saying to my family: “Just one more project, just one more hour.” But right after there was another project to focus on and another hour of work. Set and guard your boundaries. Be focused when it comes to building a business, but don’t compromise when it comes to your family or your own well-being. Take time off from your business without any guilt, because you know that when the time comes to get back, you will give it your best.
5. Hard work doesn’t equal results
This is where I see many of my clients get trapped. They tend to be busy, thinking that business equals productivity. It does NOT! Being productive is all about focusing on the right activities and getting them done. Productivity is about results. Tangible and measurable, the ones that move you forward to the next level. You truly don’t have to work hard. Your goal is to learn how to work smart. I don’t have time to go into depth on the topic of productivity today, but let me know if this is something you’d like me to address in one of my upcoming posts and I’ll see what I can do…
6. Marketing matters
None of us wants to be salesy (ok, maybe some do, but you know what I mean). Yet, how in the world do you want people to buy from you if they don’t know about you? They’re not going to wake up one morning yelling “I’ve never heard of Silvia, but I know that I must find her and work with her!”It's YOUR responsibility to let people know that your business is ready to help them. Click To Tweet
You have the solution for people. It’s up to you to get the message out to them – loud and clear. People need you, they just don’t know about you yet.
7. Networking is not overrated
I’ll be honest with you. I’m NOT a networker. I’m an introvert, when in groups, I tend to stay in the background, observing. In fact, I attended so many events without ever connecting with the right people, that I began to think that networking didn’t work. But I was wrong!
You see, as an introvert, I’m not the “one-time girl”. I’m the “let’s-get-to-know-each-other girl” who takes the time to build relationships and connect. This means that it takes time for me to connect, but once I do, it usually lasts long. Even today I have in my network people I met when I first started my business. We might not chat every day or week, but the bond is there. We’re ready to refer people to each other, support and help each other when needed.Networking works, but it needs to be done right. Click To Tweet
What is your network? Who do you know that can help you? How can you help them? If you don’t have a network yet, how can you turn it around and start building one? Discover my top 7 networking tips for introverts here.
8. Shiny objects drain your budget
I’m at the stage in my business, where I don’t buy every book that comes out, every binder that promises to make me millions in a week or anything else that doesn’t line up with my goals. I’ve realized that the reason I used to waste my money on staff that never moved my business forward was simply a lack of direction in my business. Let me explain.
Without having set goals and an action plan, everything I came across online sounded like it could fit my business or life. Yes, I wanted better marketing, better networking, more money, more sales, better clients, better software, the best gadgets, and everything else. Once you put things into perspective and designed a plan on HOW you’re going to build and grow your business, everything else becomes irrelevant. If somebody’s selling a program to teach you how to write a best-seller, but your focus is on setting up your website, the best-seller is a distraction, with nothing in common with your current goal.Being clear on your goals keeps you focused and saves you $$$ and time! Click To Tweet
9. Hire a mentor and do as advised
I was actually pretty smart about this one because I knew from the beginning that I needed a mentor. I was humble enough to understand that learning from someone more experienced would help me create results faster. But one thing I failed to do was to do what was advised (shhh!). I was hurting my business as I was still trying to do it “my way”.
Why do you hire a mentor if you’re not going to follow as they guide you? Here’s a thought… You have someone else to blame if it doesn’t work! I was actually spending money so that I could blame someone else if my business failed. How pathetic! There was a day where I had to face my own insecurities and either stop working with mentors or start following their advice.
If you know me, you know what I chose. If you don’t know me yet, here it is… I AM working with mentors and I AM following their guidance. And I highly recommend that you do the same.
10. Celebrate your accomplishments
This is my final, but very important point for today. Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments, write them down to make it easy to get back to them later. I used to have a separate folder on my computer where I would store all my client’s testimonials, thank you’s, pictures of gifts as well as my own notes. I now store this information in my “Gratitude Board” notebook in Evernote, but it’s still the same idea. I come here often when I need to remind myself why I do what I do, why I need to keep going and keep improving. Take time to celebrate. You’ve worked hard, you created the results and you need to learn to enjoy the moment.
What lessons have you learned in your business? Let me know on social media!
Are you looking for more tips to kick start your business? Check our Startup Guide – yours absolutely free!
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