I am turning 40 next week, my first really big birthday that made me take a pause and evaluate my accomplishments. When you turn 20, you really don’t care because you are just biding your time until you turn 21. And 30 didn’t bother me either, most likely because I was still not fully comprehending the fact I was actually getting older. Chalk it up to young and naive. But 40, as it looms before me, really has me thinking. What have I learned? What have I accomplished? I have been doing one never-ending retrospective of my life ever since August began. So I thought, maybe I should share some of my thoughts and findings in regards to my professional life with other new entrepreneurs and hopefully spare them some of the grief I encountered.
The business I run with my husband technically was started when our kids were born. I joined him on a full time basis shortly before I turned 30. I am not ashamed to admit that we probably made every mistake there was as we found our way. This is part of the reason I later wanted to become a business coach – to save other young entrepreneurs from mistakes I had either made or seen others make. Below is a list of some of the ones I think stand out to me the most.
1. Ask For Help Sooner Than Later
Whoever said “pride cometh before the fall” must have been an entrepreneur. When we first started out, we never asked anyone for help. Whether it was with processes, finance, or marketing, we didn’t think we could ask for help. We thought it would be perceived as weakness, or that we were unstable and likely to go out of business soon. I had never even heard of a business coach, much less sought out any kind of help like that. We did our actual jobs very well, but we were learning the hard way on pretty much every aspect of running a business. When I finally got the nerve to ask other entrepreneurs for advice, a whole new world opened up. I found out that other business owners LOVE to help you. It’s like there is some secret brotherhood of entrepreneurs – an unwritten rule to help – that I never knew about. Once I trusted in the quality relationships I had been making over my many years of networking, I had answers, advice, and a whole new outlook on my business.
The other piece of asking for help is knowing when to delegate. This is different for everyone. What I have found to be true is that if you are spending time on tasks that can easily be done by an assistant, you are not out closing deals and bringing in the revenue. This will lead to trouble. You could find yourself overwhelmed or you might just be dropping the ball because you are handling mundane tasks instead of taking care of clients. Hire help sooner than later.
2. Manage Your Money
This probably seems obvious, but it is so important it must be mentioned. Find yourself a banker and a financial advisor you can trust. Make relationships with people that truly care about you and your prosperity. Then LISTEN to them. Do what they advise. They were trained for this, so give them the benefit of the doubt by believing what they say. Cash flow is critical so make sure you have a plan to keep it flowing. Come up with multiple streams of income. Create information products that bring in cash while you are sleeping. And no matter what anyone says about saving enough money to start a business, I want you to take that number and double it. There will always be a hiccup or an unforeseen issue – so save those pennies for that rainy day. You will need them.
3. There Will Be Highs and Lows – Don’t Give Up
In the beginning as you are finding your way, it is easy to get frustrated when the clients are not beating down your door. Maybe you put a product together that was not as successful as you had hoped. Maybe you are hitting your slow season and the phone is not ringing. I wrote about being prepared for slow times which you can read about by clicking here. Keep yourself focused and busy so you don’t give in to that little voice in your head that says you are not good enough. My friend Suzanne always called it the “itty bitty shitty committee.” Don’t listen. Your passion and persistence will always prevail if you let it, even in the slow times. Don’t give up on your dream – ever.
4. Continuing Your Education Is SO Important
This does not necessarily mean going back to college or school. This also means online classes, webinars, tele-seminars, video series, books, eCourses, etc. Find a leader in your field and see if they are selling products that show you how to do what you do BETTER. Invest in yourself. Hire a coach. Establish accountability with someone. Stay current with trends and technology in your field. You want to be known as the best – so act like it and soak up all the information you can that is available to you. Rely on experts, read blogs, do your research. Whatever your method, just be diligent with keeping up with the most current trends.
5. Technology Changes Every Day – Find A Good Technology Professional
Disclaimer – I am very biased because this one of the things my company does. I have seen businesses trying to handle their technology on their own and it does nothing but cost them their precious time and money. Too many entrepreneurs waste the day away trying to troubleshoot an issue instead of earning money. Find a trusted technology professional that will put together a system that works for you – not necessarily what everyone else is doing. Your technology needs to be reliable, backed up and mobile. Make sure you are able to keep up with the fast paced world of technology. It will affect every aspect of your business, so please pay attention to your technology from the beginning. Rely on a professional.
6. Being Your Own Boss is … Awesome!
On a personal note, I cannot imagine what my life would look like if I had worked for someone else these last ten years. First and foremost I am able to follow my number one rule: the Red Velvet Rope Policy. I only work with clients that energize and inspire me. I choose my clients. Additionally, I was able to be home with my kids as well as work during the day. I got to watch them grow up into their teens and I did not miss anything. I was also the main caregiver for my mother from the moment my youngest was born. I was fortunate enough to be able to manipulate my schedule so I could get her to all the doctor appointments and then be there for her during her final days. Those days were some of the hardest of my life, and I cannot imagine having to endure my grief while working for someone else. I am so very grateful I didn’t need to answer to someone else during these last 10 years. Entrepreneurism may be difficult at times, but this reason alone is when the pros far outweigh the cons.
So as I embark on the next decade, I am looking back with pride. Pride in my business, pride in my clients and their success, and pride in myself. I can’t wait to see what wisdom the next ten years will bring…