1) Stay Inspired
I cannot overstress the importance of remaining inspired. As an entrepreneur, you have to keep moving forward! You will inevitably hit a slump or moment of self-doubt. The quickest way to get through it is to tap into the creative energy that made you want to pursue this in the first place (also commonly referred to as your “why”). When I realized what inspired me most, it made a world of difference in the way I thought of my business and the projects I sought out.
2) Know Yourself
It may be a bit cliche at this point to say that someone has to “know themselves”, but it’s the truth. When you honestly reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, you learn what motivates you and how to periodically refresh. Most importantly, you learn what the optimal conditions for your best personal performance are. A great example of this for me personally was that a month and a half in, I realized that I work best when I DO NOT TRY TO WORK IN MY BED. I set up a rule that no matter what I had to set up the laptop in the home office. Later on, I discovered I work best when I use my giant Apple display. As I knew myself better I became so much more productive.
3) Be Patient
Honestly, when I walked out of my job at the law office in 2014, I imagined I’d be where I’m at right now (in terms of skills, client base, and overall knowledge) within six months or so (I know, that was completely unrealistic but I was an ambitious young man lol). I think I just had to tell myself that to justify walking away from my career. As you’ve probably guessed, six months became two years. I’ve had multiple in between jobs since then, and I’ve invested A LOT of time. What this as taught me though is that this is a process and if you focus more on the progress you’re making than the place you want to go, you’ll get there. Yard by yard it’s hard, inc by inch, it’s a cinch.
4) Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
In my earliest days, it was very easy for me to attack my projects as though I had to think of the answer to everything myself without much help from anyone else. Then it hit me one day while I was hanging out with some graphic designers: everything under the sun has been done already! You don’t need to come up with your own special way. The internet is full of free or low cost resources specifically designed to help you get ahead. Put your ego to the side and study the way the masters are doing it. It’ll save you many headaches.
5) Be Organized
Evernote and my calendar are my best friends. Enough said.
6) Learn How you best consume information
As a business owner, you have to stay on top of your craft. You must always be learning and growing if you want to be successful. However, the way you do that is up to you. Historically, we’re expected to be visual book learners, but the reality is some folks are auditory learners, and others are kinestetic learners. Knowing were you fall is extremely important. Try different combinations of traditional books, magazines, blogs, audiobooks, podcasts, and online courses until you figure it out. When you do, stick to it! Youtube is now my best friend.
Bonus: The Fortune is in The Follow Up
It seems like the last thing that dream chasing business owners think about is SALES. If that sounds like you, you have to come to grips with the fact that people are not going to do business with you without purposeful action on your part that drives sales. That means that WHENEVER you meet people that can benefit from what you have to offer (aka your potential clients), you have to take the initiative to follow up with them and show them the value you can add to their life. One thing I’ve gotten into the habit of doing is looking to see what free digital marketing related resource I can point people to. That way, it feels natural to me and the conversation that ensues isn’t just about sales.
So, what are top lessons that your experiences as an entrepreneur have taught you?