When I still had my job, I used to covet moments when I could garner advice from experienced business owners about the path they took to creating their own work optional lifestyle. I was fascinated by the things they would tell me and I would hang on to their every word as I aspired to start and build my own business. There is something incredibly valuable about learning from those who have done what you aspire to do.
Recently, in one of my free Facebook communities, I asked business owners what advice they would offer someone starting out. This advice has been curated by a group of smart, successful business owners who have been brave enough to get in the ring and build a business. When you’re done reading this, I’d love to hear one piece of advice you wish you’d had when you started out.
Before I lead into what these great people had to say, I’d like to share my own thoughts. Looking back gives us insights that are so very different from looking ahead.
My advice is this:
Start now. There is never the perfect time, you’ll never have as much money as you’d like, and the market conditions will never be perfect. If you want to own a business, start now, and stick with it. Everything you hope to do in year one will most likely take five but it’s going to take five regardless…so you may as well start right now.
Here’s what they had to say:
- Be clear on your own vision for your business and stay true to that. You must embrace and understand why you are starting your business and not allow others to influence the vision of what you really want. Do you think people understood what the guys at Google were building? Do you think that everyone saw Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook? Not everyone will see your vision, that’s okay, it’s yours.
- Embrace new marketing mediums. Innovation is the future. If you want to succeed, you must be open and receptive to ever-changing technology. If you stay in your comfort zone, (especially when it comes to technology, social media, and innovation), you will get left behind. Just ask Kodak, and no, I’m not talking about the rapper.
- Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. What you focus on builds, and if you constantly focus on the things you are not great at, you will erode your self-confidence and ultimately fail in business. Everyone makes mistakes, the truly successful people learn from their weaknesses and leverage their strengths.
- Don’t make crazy, rash decisions without understanding what you’re getting yourself into. Ensure you have a contingency plan and that you’re able to support yourself and your family before dropping every penny you have left on your big business idea. There is no greater motivator than money and no greater stress than not having any.
- Pay yourself first. There will always be other things to pay for in your business. If you don’t prioritize your own paycheck no one else will. Have the discipline to learn about money and all things financial in your business and pay yourself for all that hard work as soon as you start making money.
- Build your list early; that’s where your future sales will come from. Create and distribute content on a regular basis so people know who you are.
- Surround yourself with great people. That means finding a team who will support you, lift you up and help you build your business. Your team should be comprised of mentors, your accountant, colleagues, employees and or contractors. If those people don’t influence your life in a positive way, replace them with people who do.
- Invest in a mentor or coach who has a proven success track record. When you hire a coach or a mentor, find someone who has already done what you aspire to do. The best person to help you reach your goals quickly is by working with someone who has already done it.
- Never stop networking and meeting people face-to-face, belly-to-belly, and heart-to-heart. Connecting with people on social media is a great way to build your business, too. Your net worth is in your network so be sure to do as much as you can to expand your reach in a meaningful way, and have as many in-person interactions as possible.
- Learn the financial basics around building a business, and don’t pretend numbers don’t matter because they do. This singular piece of advice could make or break your business, and the sooner you learn about your numbers, the more strategic and proactive you become in your business. If you’ve hired a coach who can’t help you with this, you’ve hired the wrong person.
- Have a growth mindset every day. A growth mindset is able to see what is possible whereas a fixed mindset believes they cannot change their situation. As an entrepreneur, your mindset is key to your success. Pay attention to your thoughts, your language, and the way you talk to yourself. Instead of saying things like “I can’t…” ask yourself “how can I?” Success without a healthy mindset isn’t really success at all. No amount of money and material items can change your mindset.
What do you think? Knowing what you know about running a business, what’s your best piece of advice?
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Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.