Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit and natural hustle. Whether it was washing cars in the summer, delivering newspapers, selling burnt CDs and mixes in middle school (the Kazaa and Napster era), all the way up to Noirbnb and other ventures. It’s been an insane journey, to say the least, and I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons, some of which I’d like to share here. Of course there are many, many more than 10 lessons that every entrepreneur should know, but these are some of the ones that often help me stay focused as I build my businesses.
1. Have A Plan
As the old saying goes, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”. Before you embark on anything, you should have a goal in mind and a strategy in place to help you reach that goal. “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. It’s supremely important to not only have your vision in mind, but to also plot out the necessary action steps that will add an extra level of assurance that you’ll accomplish your mission. You wouldn’t start driving to somewhere you’ve never been without knowing how to get there or at least using your GPS. You shouldn’t do that with your goals, dreams, and most importantly your life, either.
2. Utilize your resources
I could’ve just said “Be Resourceful” but, that doesn’t quite capture the essence of what I’m saying here. All around us we’re surrounded by people, products, tools, and technology that can potentially be assets toward achieving our goals. Sadly, most of us completely ignore, disregard, or worse, don’t even recognize the amount of resources at our disposal. For one, you’re probably reading this on your phone, tablet, or laptop. That alone means you’re lightyears ahead of where most people on this planet are. You’re definitely ahead of where your ancestors were, even 50-100 years ago. We have tools that give us access to an infinite wealth of knowledge at our fingertips but, sadly (and hilariously) most of us just use them to talk shit and share memes. Think of your phone (or laptop, or tablet) as your gateway to the next level in life. Use it for researching, learning, networking, and communicating yourself to the next level of your life.
3. Don’t wait for “Perfect”
I put the word “Perfect” in quotes because it really doesn’t exist. Nothing will ever be perfect. When you’re first setting out on your entrepreneurial journey and building a new business, things will never go, be, or look exactly the way they’re supposed to, or the way you’d want them to. That doesn’t matter. Do it anyway. 9 times out of 10, your customer or target demographic has no idea that it isn’t perfect. They don’t even care. What they care about is that whatever you’re doing provides value, solves their problem, or makes their life easier. Don’t psych yourself out. Like Nike said, “Just Do It.”
4. Maintain a To-do List
To add to #1, not only is it important to have a plan for your goals, you need to have a plan for your day, to ensure that you’re concisely moving forward toward those goals. Your big goals are really made up of smaller parts that need to be completed first. Those parts have even smaller parts within them. Use your daily to-do list to knock out those smaller parts to ensure you’re making measurable progress toward your goal(s).
5. Master the Monotonous
A lot of people look at entrepreneurs and they see the accolades, media features, exotic cars, and the great businesses they’ve built, but rarely do they get a glimpse of the tedious, monotonous work that was done and still has to get done behind the scenes. I mean, filing your LLC, filing your taxes, morning emails, conference calls, team meetings, paperwork, etc all the stuff that can become, or straight up is, boring. One of the major differences between the entrepreneurs that make it, and the ones that don’t are that some have mastered the boring stuff while the others ignore it. Certain stuff, you just can’t ignore. Master the monotonous so that you can truly enjoy the high moments.
6. Prepare for Setbacks
“You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.” You can have the most detailed plan and strategies in place but, even then, shit happens. And sometimes, that shit doesn’t just happen, it hits the fan. When that happens, it’s your job to be as ready as possible. Primarily, mentally ready. While everyone else is running around like a headless chicken, you have to be the stoic, focused captain, remaining unshaken. You have to guide not only yourself, but your team through these treacherous waters. Things happen. Projects go over budget, they fall behind deadlines, client doesn’t pay, product launch fails, team members do something horrible, etc. the list goes on. That will happen whether you like it or not. Over and over again. It’s important to remember, it’s not the circumstance, it’s how you respond to it. Respond like a bawse. *Rick Ross Grunt*
7. Never Stop Learning
“Anything that’s not growing is dead.” Whether you’re a High School dropout or a Harvard PhD, it’s of utmost importance that you never, ever stop learning. You could be attaining higher education via institutions or going the autodidact route and teaching yourself, as long as you never stop. Read as many books, blogs, journals, and articles as you can. Watch as many YouTube tutorials as it takes. Listen to every podcast on the subject that you can find. In these times, everything is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. It’s important to learn, internalize, and put what you’ve learned into practice so that you can be the best you and build the best business possible.
8. Hold Yourself Accountable
As an entrepreneur, there’s no time to complain and blame others. Especially when you’re the head of your business. If something goes wrong, you have to put that on your shoulders. Even if it’s not your “fault”. At the beginning and end of the day, whose fault it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone (preferably you and/or your partners) has taken responsibility and is prepared, or preparing to fix it. Half of your job as an entrepreneur is being the proverbial fireman or firewoman. You’ll be consistently putting fires out all over the place. Handle it. No more, no less.
9. Be comfortable being (temporarily) broke
The journey of an entrepreneur is not an easy one. To be completely honest, being an entrepreneur is possibly one of the most difficult things a human being can embark on. Part of that difficulty is investing in yourself and your business with the faith and belief that your investment will provide a significant return and sustain itself. Until that point, it might require a lot of financial (sacrifice) investment. That’s just the name of the game. Unless you’ve already acquired significant funding or were already wealthy or comfortable before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey, there’s going to be some broke moments. Use this time in your journey to master the practice of frugality. Try to minimize your expenses while also increasing your income. Save what you can, invest in your business, and make sure you have enough left over to pay for your living expenses. Either way, its a part of the process that most of us will and have had to endure. Embrace it.
10. Don’t Count On Support
I’ve been blessed to have the support and encouragement of family and friends but, that wasn’t always the case. And rightfully so. People usually have to see someone doing something consistently and taking it serious before they’ll just offer their support. You wouldn’t want to put your money and name behind something that might be here today and gone tomorrow. You have to earn the support of your family, friends, partners, and potential customers by showing the value in whatever product or service your providing. Consistently. Also, your family and group of friends is a limited pool. Focus on reaching customers and closing sales with strangers first. They’re not only the most likely to become patrons of what you’re doing, this will succeed in showing your family and friends that not only are you not crazy for following your dream, but also that you’re taking initiative to make it happen on your own. That’s respectable and admirable. “If you build it, they will come” but only after you hustle your ass off and let them know why they should be there.
I sincerely hope these 10 tips can add value and help you along your entrepreneur journey. There are so many more than 10 that I could’ve added here but, these were some of the most pivotal ones that came to me as I wrote this post and reminisced on my own journey to this point.
To contact me and schedule a consultation so you can #LevelUp your business, contact me HERE.