When I started my first business, I knew I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know! If I could go back in time and teach myself, there’s so much I would want to say. Here are 19 of the most important things that I would try to explain to myself as a newbie entrepreneur.
1. The more organized you are, the less you’ll have to work.
When I’m disorganized, I don’t know where all my time went. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know where to find the thing. I don’t know who I’m supposed to connect with. I don’t even know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Spend more time keeping things simple, and you’ll spend less time spinning your wheels. (You’ll also enjoy your work a whole lot more.)
2. For the sake of your sanity (and perseverance), CONNECT.
The #1 thing that makes the biggest difference in my happiness, optimism, and progress is connecting with peers. Find those people are who doing the same sort of thing as you and have positive attitudes about the challenges along the way. Talk to them on a regular basis. Motivate them and let them motivate you. Support them and let them support you. Community is everything.
3. Taking action trumps everything!
You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don’t act on it then nothing is going to happen. Don’t wait until your plan is “perfect” (it never will be). Consider your options, do a reasonable amount of research, and then GO! You can correct your course along the way.
4. Plan, but then RELAX.
As an entrepreneur, things won’t always go as you expect or hope. Embrace the flow, and learn to be flexible. Better to be relaxed and enjoy the journey than be so stressed out about not being in control of every little detail.
5. Systems save your sanity.
Trying to do all the things and be all the people will make balance impossible! Focus on creating systems that enable you to delegate and get more done in less time. Give your work focused, regular attention so that when you AREN’T working you are able to be fully present with your family and friends.
6. There will be seasons of less sleep.
When you own a business, there are busy seasons and then there are busier seasons. During the former, you might have it “all figured out” and feel very balanced. During the latter, you WILL get less sleep. You’ll stay up late working on your launch, or wake up early to write your blog post in time — or both. Embrace the season of busyness, but create plans for rest and recuperation as well.
7. The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.
This goes for launching products, services, giving speeches, teaching classes, going to the gym… anything really. The more time you take to be fully ready, the more you’ll get out of the experience. (That being said, don’t over think it. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time, put in the work, then call that good and GO.)
8. “Everything is figuroutable.” — Marie Forleo
She said it and it’s true. You can figure out ANYTHING that you need to figure out to make your business successful. If someone has done it before you, you can learn from them. If not, you can figure it out on your own (which might take a little more time, but will be even more worth it).
9. Focus on ONE thing at a time.
The more focused your attention is, the more progress you’ll be able to make in that one area. That success can then make other things much easier! For example, social media platforms: you can try to grow a following on five different platforms at once, and gain 1000 followers on each, or you can focus your attention on just one, and gain 5000 followers there (or perhaps a lot more, since you’re more focused). Those 5000 followers can then be directed to your other platforms, and many of them will easily go.
10. Consistency is the key to gaining momentum.
Want your business to GROW? Be consistent. Show up consistently as the same person and brand. Publish content consistently. Stay consistently in your niche. Preach your message consistently.
Dripping water all over the place won’t accomplish anything. Dripping water into the same bucket continuously will fill your bucket to overflowing.
11. Solve real problems.
Nice things are nice, pretty things are pretty, but problems take precedence. Problems have to be solved. People pay money to have their problems solved. Focus on helping your customers and solving their problems, and they will cling to you.
12. Outsource. It’s worth it.
The other day, I was delegating my time: deciding how much time I wanted to spend on each activity of my business and how much time I really wanted to be working at all. I realized that I could spend 8 hours/month posting to social media, or 8 hours/month putting out a podcast (or both, or neither). I didn’t really want to spend the full 16 hours, so I chose to outsource the social media posting because anyone could do that for me. Only I can host my podcast show.
Spend your time doing those things that only you can do. Outsource all the things that anyone can do. You’ll get so much more done, make so much more money, and provide employment for someone else in the process!
13. Take the time to keep records.
Keeping records is no fun. It’s my least favorite part of running my business. Well, almost. Really, my least favorite part is when I don’t keep the records and then I have information I need. Create systems that make keeping the essential records simple, and then make those systems into habits.
14. Take a break BEFORE you are burnt out.
Don’t kill yourself working for 17 days straight and then never want to look at your website again. Take at least one day each week completely off. Take some time every single day to slow down and really separate from your work. Paint your nails, walk the dog, watch your favorite show, or make a beautiful dinner. ENJOY life while you are growing your business, or else you will come to hate your business.
15. Know your focus.
What is that one thing that you specialize in? Get extremely clear on exactly what your “offer” is, who it’s for, and why people need it.
16. Practice pays off.
Practice your speech a dozen times before you give it. Practice writing the copy for your website. Practice connecting with people.
If you aren’t good at something, either decide to outsource it or practice. Being bad at something sucks, but you don’t have to stay bad at it. Keep doing it (in fact, do it way more than you have to), and do it intentionally. It will get easier.
17. Appearance matters.
Whether you like it or not, people DO judge books by their covers. That’s just the way the world works.
People will judge you on whatever they perceive. They will judge you on how you look and sound. They will judge you on what you create and how you create it.
Does that mean you have to be perfect? No. Does that mean you have to cater to everyone? Definitely not. But, what it does mean is that you need to show up how you WANT people to perceive you, and you need to care about the details. What you wear matters. Your grammar matters. Consistent branding matters.
Keep things simple, high quality, consistent, and focused on what your customers actually want. Then, ask some of your trusted peers how you could improve.
18. The money is in the list
To make money, you have to sell. To sell, you have to have an audience and have a way to be able to connect with them. Focus on building that audience and creating a relationship with them. Your audience must trust and appreciate you. Your audience is your most valuable asset.
19. You can be happy TODAY
Happiness doesn’t come as a byproduct of success. Happiness is a choice you make every day. Happiness is gratitude for everything you HAVE and curiosity of what you will be able to create next. Don’t deprive yourself the enjoyment of the journey.