Being an entrepreneur isn’t an easy ride and whatever people have told you about starting your own business – they’re sure to have missed something out. If you want to be successful within business you have to take the rough with the smooth and know where to place your valuable, but limited, resources. To do this, you should know a few things about being an entrepreneur.
Here’s what I’ve learned from 19 years of experience:
1. You Don’t Have To Do It All
Many new businesses and entrepreneurs make the common mistake of thinking they can do everything internally. But producing, delivering and administrating everything is a lot of work that can be expensive, especially if you are not an expert in a certain area.
This is why it can sometimes be a good idea to contract out tasks to those who are good at what they do and could probably do it for a lot less than you can.Surround yourself with people who are best at the role. Click To Tweet
I have designers that can outdesign me, salespeople who outsell me, bookkeepers who are more organized than me, and project managers who manage people better than I do. These individuals allow me to focus on what I do best (or, what I love to do) because I’m sure you didn’t become an entrepreneur to do things you don’t like to do.
2. Success Won’t Happen Overnight
No business is truly a success overnight. Your relationships may suffer and you may be unhappy for some time. Entrepreneurs don’t create a business plan and become millionaires the next day. It takes months of preparation, marketing, networking and other activities to create a strong business profile to create a highly successful organization.Success won't happen overnight, and it's OK. Click To Tweet
During those first few months, time might be tight. Financially, you might be worse off than you’ve ever been and you may worry you’ll never be a success. But by sticking to it, you might gain the reward you are looking for.
“One day you’re buying cars in cash and the next day you’re cancelling newspaper subscriptions to make payroll. There’s nothing like it.” – Jayson Gaignard
Before one of my design businesses became successful, it took me about 1.5 years of not paying myself and instead reinvesting all my money into paying for my staff to grow, as well as rent, transportation, etc.
Be prepared for tough times. Try to have at least six month’s worth (if not a year) of wages stored up to get you through the more difficult times.
3. Your Social Circles Will Make Or Break You
Who are your influencers and what is their mentality? Research has shown that a poor choice of close influencers can make entrepreneurs quit early.
To grow, you need positive people, those who know that you can and will succeed. If you can associate with people who will challenge you to think positively, think bigger and offer advice – you will be more likely to be a great success.
“EO is basically the Justice League of the entrepreneurial world. This group has it all. It’s the ultimate toolbox for entrepreneurs.”—Forbes
It’s why I join entrepreneur groups like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, participate in high level events/groups like the MastermindTalks, Toronto Entrepreneurs of Passion & Purpose (TEPP), Limitless Business, Entrepreneurship Society, The Art of, and continue to lead and inspire associations dedicated to making leaders like NAAAP, ACCE, RHMCBA, etc.
I do my best to surround myself with those who are also looking to learn, grow, and boldly go beyond their comfort zone while being real.
4. Customers Need To Know What You Stand For
You can’t just create a business and expect your target customer to find you or believe in you. Those days are over. Consumer behaviours have changed dramatically. It takes time to develop a customer base and even longer to develop a loyal one that will return to you time and time again.
Before you go developing a crazy unique selling proposition (USP), understand that there are hundreds of other businesses probably claiming the same thing. Writing words on a piece of paper or marketing material is not going to cut it. You must live it by defining your company culture and ensuring your whole company believes and follows it.
When I was helping to create a document outlining our company’s values, we listed examples of how we understand each value, gave an example of how we could demonstrate it, and why it was important to us.Customers need to know what you stand for. Click To Tweet
Again, putting it on paper means shit. Acting by living, deciding, firing and hiring by your culture has earned me a few fans.
5. Funnelling Money Into Marketing Will Not Save You
Most entrepreneurs have very little money for marketing unless they have saved up, or received some sort of venture capital. But even when you have the money, spending recklessly on every channel can be the death of your company.
If I were you to give you $1M tomorrow, how would you spend it? My guess is you probably don’t truly know.
Don’t feel ashamed, I didn’t either. When I had money, my mindset was that we need to outspend and out speak the competitors, but in doing so, it caused a bit of a financial burden and also created an expectation. When funds and resources are too low to uphold that expectation, it may cause the brand to deteriorate.
Now, I surround myself with entrepreneurial experts in certain business matters and consult before spending. Spending a few hundred bucks to save a few thousand is well worth it. Here are some of the experts I know I can rely on:
Creative Design, Video & Photography: Ryan Priest
Culture & Vision Development: Warren Coughlin
Customer Experience: Joey Coleman
Delightful Gifting: John Ruhlin
Facebook Marketing: Amy Porterfield
Financial / Wealth Management: Garrett Gunderson
People Profiling: Steve Sisler
Public Speaking: Tanya Chernova
Improve Your Mindset: Ameer Rosic
Inbound / Content Marketing: Curtis Priest
Scaling for Growth: Cameron Herold
Startup Marketing Strategies: Dan Martell
Wordpress Website Development: Sven Drumev
Conclusion: “Oh that was my idea!”
Being an entrepreneur is not an idea, it’s execution. So stop saying, “Oh I could have, or I should have.” and start doing. Sometimes, people leave out this important factor and that is why 90% of startups tend to fail.No one ever mastered riding a bike by reading a book. They got on the damn bike. Click To Tweet
Photography Credit: Francis Leung at Vision Youth
Published by: Inc.