Anyone starting a business of their own, from a sole proprietor running a small home business working for themselves, or an incorporated company with an operating location and staff, is an entrepreneur.
Business can be retail, wholesale, service, manufacturing…it doesn’t matter.
As a sole practitioner of my own law firm, I too am an entrepreneur.
Some of us plan this for our futures and others become entrepreneurial due to other circumstances.
For myself, when I wanted more flexibility with my schedule than what was offered to me as an employee, and I wanted to have the freedom to practice in the areas of law that I enjoyed the most, I decided to hang out my own shingle, not realizing for a long while that this single act put me squarely in the ranks of entrepreneur.
Facing Your Fears
"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek"
Deciding to open my own practice wasn’t an overnight process and in fact took 9 months of planning.
Over that period, I had to name my fears and face them.
Financial fears as a single mother, with a mortgage, with no safety net, were a significant concern.
Professional fears; what if I failed? I didn’t know anything but this work.
Fears and doubts are different for every entrepreneur but. EVERYONE HAS THEM.
When you have fears and doubts, write them down, speak them out loud to someone.
Accept and overcome fear by creating a plan
Don’t let fear and doubt win!
Not following through, not naming the fears, or speaking to someone about them, and working through the fear, could cause regret that lasts much longer than momentary fears.
Where to Begin?
I am often approached by clients about starting their own business and they invariably ask “Where do I even start?”
My answer is often “Start at the end, and work your way backwards.”
Work your business plan backwards from the ‘end’ goal or objective and determine the steps and milestones you need to cover to get there.
If you don’t have an end goal, where is your journey taking you?
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. I don’t just mean financial success. How will you measure it?
Ask yourself and write down what accomplishing your goal will feel like.
Begin to imagine what accomplishing the end goal looks like. Would there be a celebration, or party, who will be there?
Beginning to imagine yourself having accomplished the goal or objective has you see it as a ‘done deal’ , it’s now just backing up from the end to get to where you start.
It is a thinking process that removes the element of ‘reacting’ to circumstances to move your project forward.
Use this tool on big plans and small. Starting a business or expanding an element of your business – this thinking process creates a roadmap.
Learn from your mistakes
Every mistake, big or small is an opportunity to learn – but be conscious of what happened and make sense of the error.
Write down notes when there is a mistake or error. When you go to take a new risk or new step look back at your notes to see if anything you did before could occur again. Sometimes we repeat old patterns, so it’s important to keep track,
Work to understand what the ‘gap’ was in your decision or what was ‘missing’ that created the circumstance.
Hire the wrong person? What can you look for next time?
Unhappy client? What was missing for them?
Choose the wrong supplier? What expectations weren’t fulfilled?
Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Everyone makes them. Take the lesson and move on. Don’t get me wrong. I know they are hard to digest, particularly when the loss is financial. I’ve been there and it ain’t pretty.
And don’t stop moving forward because we all stumble occasionally.
Create a Feedback Team - and be open to it
Understand that you don’t have all the answers and that feedback from others is valuable and an extension of learning from mistakes.
A good feedback team can help you avoid mistakes before you make them.
Trust your feedback team; whether employees, customers, business coaches, or fellow entrepreneurs.
Weigh advice and feedback with a detached logic – remove emotion from it.
You may reject some feedback – you’re certainly not obligated to act on it always, but when you open yourself to it, you open your mind to other possibilities than those you envisioned.
Being a “lone-wolf” can lead to delayed growth and hinder progress.
Plan – But Be Adaptable
Ben Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, but perhaps he should have added, “BUT PIVOT WHEN NECESSARY!”
Our present COVID-19 pandemic has countless examples of how businesses have had to pivot to survive.
Restaurants found outlets in delivery apps
Businesses adapted to remote work environments
Manufacturers pivoted to other goods
Bars started delivering groceries
Not every plan has a pandemic hiccup, but all plans need to be adaptable.
Review your plan frequently and tweak as required.
Conduct or engage someone to perform a SWOT analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your business.
Be aware of environmental changes that may effect the success of your endeavour
environment being marketplace, demand, regulatory fluctuations, etc.)
make your business as future-proof as you are able.
Develop your Leadership and Management Skills
Few business ventures stand on one person alone, so, to be successful, most business owners need employees of one kind or another.
Few business owners begin their businesses with all the skills they’ll ever need to see their business through to success.
When it comes to Leadership and Management Skills, you’ve got to do the work.
Find books or articles that will help you hone these skills and build your team.
Ask others what books they may have been inspired by.
Attend Leadership conferences or summits. Attend one and you’re sure to hear of others people find valuable.
Find networking opportunities and network with other business owners.
And as previously stated, learn from errors and accept feedback in your journey to leadership excellence.
Stress Management – Structure Your Work / Life Balance
Ensure your business plan includes downtime and rest.
Make time for family, fitness, relaxation and socializing.
Try to keep work time from overlapping these areas as best you can.
Create shortcuts where you can, such as cooking ahead so you can eat healthy while being busy.
Plan your downtime as carefully as you plan your work activities.
A well rounded, well rested business owner is generally more effective.
Some people believe that when you need a teacher, the universe gives you one, so don’t be stingy with the lessons you learn.
Be a teacher! If you’re a successful business owner or WHEN you become one, consider mentoring someone who could benefit from your experience.
Share the lessons you’ve learned, willingly, either in a formal setting such as a business association or informally on a one-on-one basis with another budding entrepreneur.