Not so long ago a good friend curated an article titled “11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business” on his blog. As always, anything that appears on Mike Boyd’s blog is interesting and makes good reading. But the title of this particular one piqued my interest. When we started down the path of self employment my business partner, Anagha Vaidya, and I assumed a lot of things about what we knew…based on our corporate experience.
I was intrigued enough to investigate the web for any such similar gems. And there were several such articles with similar sounding titles that almost seemed to provide readers with a cornucopia of reasons why not to start a business. But, put in the right context, these were nuggets of advice that would, in my opinion, prepare any person to venture down the lonely road of entrepreneurism.
So, for the benefit of all, I thought I would add to the din and provide a summary of what, I believe, are some of the better nuggets out there on the web. While there are several authors from whom I have picked these up, the most appealing was Stephanie St Claire whose blog posts are really different in many ways.
In producing my own list of curated nuggets, I hope I am providing our readers, who have dreams of self employment, some insights as they gain their “masters degree in life survival” that entrepreneurs go through.
- Damn the naysayers – without a doubt there will be several people to crush your dreams of entrepreneurship by coming up with doomsday stories. They will come up with enough examples of failures to cast a thick cloud over your thinking process. If you have done your homework well, have the confidence, have prepared a clearly executable plan and are convinced about the prospects of your business, you MUST learn to ignore the naysayers. Do not let them invade the crevices of your mind and bring down your enthusiasm.
- Have a mentor – As I have stated in a previous blog, Steve Jobs attributed a large part of his success to the fact that he created a very strong and reliable circle of mentors around him. Having a mentor from day one of your journey helps you with a voice of reason. Without doubt there is a lot of pride that goes into starting a business, but keeping that pride in check and getting under the wings of a good mentor will prove to be an incalculable asset.
- Get your elevator pitch down on day one – you have to say it to yourself as many times a day as it takes to become a part of you. Until you can say it in your sleep – backwards and forwards. And, wherever you are – the grocery store, the gas station, the bar…- you have to go out of the way to network and make your pitch.
- Have a thick skin – let us face it. People are not in business to do good. From contractors to clients, people will try to screw you. They are not around to please you, so be prepared to take on a bunch of rejections in all its varied forms. There is nothing personal against you, so take it in your stride and keep forging ahead.
- Be consistent – consistency is key to success and bringing your business forward every single day. From making your daily fixed number of calls to prospects, to writing your blog, to sharpening your marketing message and more…. you have to keep at it, irrespective of the fact that it may not elicit any reaction to begin with.
- Everything counts – starting a business can be daunting and these two words can be applied to many business decisions in the course of running your business. It will help you keep things in perspective and will teach you that everything is important – no matter what the size.
- Your trajectory for success will take long – irrespective of what you feel you can do, it is very difficult to rip a path of accelerated success. Unless you are in the business of supplying the air that people need to live!!! The oft-repeated “two-year rule” may very well hold true in your case like it does for many others. It could very well take that long for your business to shift into high gear and become the success you envisaged.
- Running out of money is common – As Stephanie St Claire stated, despite your best planning, all of a sudden in the midst of puffy clouds and blue skies, your Entrepreneur Airplane will sputter forcing you to land on an empty landing strip called “Zero Bank Balance”. But the biggest part of this is you will be launched into the League of Business Badassery. If you stand your ground, don’t quit, be quick witted about getting around this momentary obstacle, get up the next day and go ahead despite the knowledge of your bank balance, you will find yourself back on the soaring skies to success.
- People matter – this is a corollary to the much used “Karma is a bitch” statement. No matter where you live, the business community is small and “what goes around comes around”. Money is a side effect of helping people solve their problems. Engage your audience into a conversation, instead of a monologue, and you will find the doors of business opening at every turn.
- Network constantly – despite the slow return on networking you have to keep it going consistently. It takes time to impress a group that you can help them in their problem solving. Do not expect immediate returns on joining a networking group. The best way to do this is to have a few regular meetings you attend each week / month and then keep adding to them as you see a good fit.
- Overcome your resistance – the biggest challenge you will face is your own resistance. As Steven Pressfield stated in his book Do The Work, your enemy will not be the lack of preparation, difficulty of the project or the marketplace or even your bank balance. Your enemy will be your own resistance which, when chattering in your brain, will produce excuses, alibis, transparent justifications and a million reasons why you cannot / should not and will not do a particular task you need to do.
There are several more out there in terms of good advice. Whatever you do, by taking the plunge to be your own destiny creator you have taken a leap of faith. From time to time, take a moment to pause. Breathe. Play. Laugh. And you will find yourself enjoying the journey
If you have any nuggets to add, please feel free to do so by commenting on this piece so that the readership at large can benefit from your experiences.