Over the past 10 years I’ve owned and managed a brand and marketing company called U2R1. During this time, many people have come to me with ideas and dreams; they want to be entrepreneurs, they want to be successful and they want to shine in the spotlight. I always get a sense of thrill when I see that gleam in the eye of a newly born entrepreneur — someone who has decided to take the leap in life and invest in themselves and in their dreams.
Most people can do the research and learn the practical steps they need to take to start a business. You register your business name, find an accountant, outline your business plan, create your brand and marketing and away you go! (Okay, we skipped over some steps in between, but you get the drift.) What people can’t find in a textbook or Internet search, though, are the life lessons you need to become a self-employed individual.
Having gone through this myself, and even more importantly, having watched my clients go through it, I’ve learned that the majority of what it takes to be successful in starting a business is not taught in any classroom.
So here are some valuable tips and myth busters that may be your lifeline when you are trying to start a business but feel like you are at your breaking point (and trust me, those moments will happen frequently). By the way these tips can be used even if you have had a business for years!
- The customer is always right — This is a complete myth! There are people out there who are just going to take advantage of you, plain and simple. You need to know how to decide who is worth fighting for and who is not. Always be gracious, and courteous, but never be afraid to walk away from a client that you feel is compromising your values.
- Pay yourself first — Unless you want to be the only person in your business, this is a myth. A successful company runs on the foundation of its employees, and some months cash flow is tight. You need to be able to give up your salary for the sake of the company. If you create a strong business model, you will reap the benefits in the future.
- Save your money — Sometimes when times are good we start spending and enjoying the good life! But in business there are always ups and downs, and you have to save for a rainy few months. The reality is that you may have a dry spell and that safety net can be the make or break of the livelihood of your company.
- Accept defeat! — But never succumb! It is okay to feel lost; sometimes you will fall and feel like crap. The key is to pick yourself right back up and start the day anew. The joy of owning a business is that the highs are super high — unfortunately, the lows can be defeating. But if you accept that as part of the journey, then you will always be ready to keep going, come what may. And remember, no matter what, every business owner is going through the same thing. You are not alone.
- Values before dollars — As much as you want to make money, that can’t be the only reason to run your business. If it is only about money, then you will never be able to get through the hard times. You have to live and breathe your company; it has to be part of your soul. Otherwise, it can leave you stressed, empty and frazzled, and when the money isn’t there it will feel like you are doing this for nothing. Keep your eye on the prize but your heart in the game always.
- Invest in marketing — No matter what you do, your marketing has to be top notch! It will be the defining element that impacts your bottom line. Investing in your marketing is showing your target audience that you are serious, and proving to them that they should invest in you. If you want to start paying yourself sooner, investing in your marketing could make all the difference!
The most important thing to remember is that the journey is full of rewards and challenges. The reason they say that 90% of businesses don’t survive within the first 5 years is because people give up when the going gets tough. The going will always be tough: You will have demanding clients, months where you won’t make ends meet, and your ego will be challenged on an ongoing basis. The reward when you do succeed has to be worth it; it has to be worth the blood, sweat, tears and years you put in before you can say you made it.
When building your dream focus on laying each brick and don’t get overwhelmed with building the wall because that can become paralyzing. Everyone has the ability to be successful; it’s the desire, drive and ambition that set the leaders apart!
The decision and the destiny are yours for the taking!