19 Things You Should Know Before You Start
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 do the same sort of thing as you and have positive attitudes about the challenges along the way. Talk to them regularly. Motivate them and let them motivate you. Support them and let them support you. Community is everything.
3. Taking action solves 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 can 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’ll 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 overthink 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 it will be 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 so 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 records and then I need something and can’t where I put the 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 about what you will be able to create next. Don’t deprive yourself of the enjoyment of the journey.
Do You Have an Employee Mindset?
Do you have an Employee Mindset? Most people who run their own businesses didn’t start that way. They started as an employee working for someone else. At some point, they took the plunge and opened, bought or acquired a business of their own.
There’s a big difference between working for someone and being a business owner.
Now that YOU run the show, have you shed your employee mindset to be a successful business owner? It seems like a simple thing to do; even to recognize but an overwhelming number of business owners I’ve worked with or collaborated with take their employee mindset with them. So what happens when you don’t change the way you think and what you think about it? Here are a few of the areas that can prevent you from realizing your true potential as a successful business owner.
Employees (even good ones) tend to focus on the here and now. They complete tasks, provide service to customers, assemble and ship things that have been ordered or complete the administrative requirements of the business. All these are important to a successful business but all very limiting from a directional standpoint.
Being a successful owner means continually looking down the road to see where you are taking your business, what challenges lay ahead and what changes may be necessary for continued growth and prosperity. Employees tend to worry about the future of the business. You must be responsible for it.
Employees avoid risk. Owners must get comfortable with it. Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without some measure of risk-taking. Learn to do the appropriate amount of research, assess your options and make a decision.
Getting comfortable with risk and being proficient at making decisions will enable you to seize opportunities and avoid mistakes due to a lack of action.
To stay ahead in your chosen field and set the direction you desire for your organization, you must be proactive, not reactive. Employees tend to react to unexpected situations or changes in their work routine. Owners must anticipate the unexpected and be the source of the change, not the result of it. Being proactive will enable you to assess outcomes and avoid the damaging effects of doing nothing because you’re not looking for the alligator in the swamp.
Activity vs. Accomplishment:
This is a big one! Employees tend to complete assignments or tasks without regard to the effects on the company at large. Some employees may do the right things to avoid problems down the road because they’re experienced at what they do and they pride themselves on bringing value to their position. Owners must evaluate certain activities to ensure that the results line up with higher goals that need to be accomplished. It’s not always a matter of getting things done. Many times, it’s a matter of doing things that are beneficial to the business’ future.
Liked vs. Respected:
Being liked may be OK for the rank and file but it can reduce an owner to figurehead status very quickly. Getting along in the workplace is important to most employees. No one likes working in a stressful environment or with people who seem to be at odds continuously. So people tend to do what makes them ‘likable’.
Owners must make hard decisions and deal with issues that may not score them points with their staff. Remember, you’re their boss first and most employees want it that way. If your employees respect you for your ability to run a successful, profitable business, they will work for you whether they like you or not.
Roles & Responsibilities:
While lots of employees want to feel valued based on their contribution to the job, most would prefer not to have to feel responsible for leading a company they don’t own. Expectations of what they do and how well they need to do it should be initiated by the owner.
It’s the owner’s job to set the pace and the employee’s job to meet it. Confusing these roles only lead to disappointing results and conflict. And when that happens, it’s the owner who is accountable for not taking the reins early.
There are probably other mindset limitations that you could add to this list but these are the real barriers to growing and running a business you can be proud of. The real secret is recognizing that you, as the business owner, are operating with mindset symptoms like these in the first place.
Overcoming these limitations don’t require a personality or style overhaul. It just requires an awareness of how you think about the role you have and the decisions you make.
You are the owner of the business. The ‘Buck’ always stops with you!
What is a Virtual Assistant?
So, what is a virtual assistant and where did the title come from? Does it mean the same thing as a secretary or personal assistant? Let’s delve into the subject of virtual assistant and see where this modern word originated.
The term originated back in the 1990s as the ability to work remotely, due to the internet and having the capability to share documents made it a reality. You can read more about the history in this article.
A virtual assistant is a person who provides various services to entrepreneurs or businesses from a remote location. There are a host of things that virtual assistants can do, including:
- Social media management
- Event management
- Managing calendars, appointments and emails
- Preparing reports
- Personal tasks like booking hotels and restaurants
- Simple digital marketing tasks
It’s a never-ending list!
Some business owners who hire a virtual assistant can be confused about what precisely a VA is. Often, VA/Client relationships turn bad because of misconceptions about what exactly a VA does for a client and how they do it.
Whether you are a VA or a client looking for a VA, this article will tell you all you need to know about the do’s & don’ts and the expectations a business owner can expect.
What a VA is…
- an independent contractor, remote worker, freelancer or business owner
- skilled at what they do, they don’t need micro-managing
- reliable and hardworking
- able to work well on their own, they don’t need constant supervision
- a home-based business owner, although some VA’s prefer to be location independent, they don’t work with clients in their offices
- a VA helps other business owners in their business with tasks they don’t have time for or with skilled services they don’t know how to do
- a business owner who is committed to helping other business owners make a success of their business
- a person who deserves respect
What a VA isn’t…
- an employee of the person who contracts them
- a miracle worker, they can’t fix a broken business
- a mind reader, they need guidance from the person who hired them
- a punching bag when things go wrong
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a business owner and understands how important it is to protect and nurture the reputation of the business owner who hires them. VA’s help and assist business owners with their daily, weekly and monthly tasks and can be a great asset.
Although VA’s often meet with their clients on a video call or in person, they don’t physically work in the client’s office. They are not personal assistants, secretaries or assistants. Sometimes their duties might overlap with these but being a virtual assistant is a different profession entirely.
A Virtual Assistant deserves to be treated with respect. Business owners that incorporate saying “please” and “thank you” goes a long way.
Why do people decide to become VA’s?
It all starts with this question. WHY! WHY is the pivotal point of any decision. Here are some of the most common reasons people decide to become VA’s:
● They want to stay at home with their children while being able to earn a living
● They’d like to be able to work flexible hours
● They’ve always wanted a business they can call their own
● They’d like to help people and earn money
● And, because they want to make their own choices, be their own boss and have freedom in their work environment
We will be discussing Mindset Issues next on the blog, but if you want to get a head start, you can check it out now.