In 2008, I took the entrepreneurial leap from a steady paycheck, defined work hours and supervisor oversight. Something in my heart said “Neil, you can do this on your own.” Like most first time entrepreneurs, I entered an unknown territory with eyes wide open.
Looking back, it all seemed so easy. But that’s not the reality. Now, at this point I don’t know any different and this is my reality.
Being an entrepreneur is about defining your own destiny. This comes with freedoms and responsibilities – most of which are foreign if you are accustom to a W-2 employment status. The daily creativity, grind and responsibility are now solely owned by you. At Hotels for Hope, we encourage entrepreneurial spirit and brand building. Based on my unique background, and years of successes and failures (more failures then successes!), I’m providing a couple useful tips to becoming your own boss:
1) Create a schedule
Create your schedule, stick to it…and take breaks. You no longer have a boss breathing down your neck. This can be a gift and a curse. For self-regulated individuals, you will find yourself working more then previous jobs. For non self-regulated individuals, it might be hard to stay on task; therefore, focus on setting goals and achieving them. I recommend taking a 10 minutes break every hour – this allows your brain time to recharge/refresh.
2) Become your own lead generator
In previous jobs, your company might have served as a great lead generator. As an entrepreneur, you are the one who hustles to get new business – especially, when no one knows your or your brand. You’ll have to work a little harder to get your foot in the door. Don’t be afraid to try multiple sales pitches and channels. Sometimes leads come from the most unexpected places…
3) Make your finances a priority
Your personal, and business, finances are extremely important – especially during the startup phase. On a personal side, remove unnecessary expenses and remember to budget (especially for taxes). As a business owner, remember that it takes money to make money. Spend wisely and strategically. Do not expect business to flow without making a couple key expenditures.
4) Build your personal brand
Your company is a brand in itself – on a daily basis, you are working to grow its footprint and strengthen the presence of your marks. You should do the same for yourself. Look at yourself as a brand and identify ways to promote it. Utilize social media channels to promote your company, your work and your thought leadership. Attend events and grow your network. Don’t always look for industry related events, sometimes the best connections come from niche events where you can stand out as an industry expert.
5) Set goals
Never jump into a venture without doing a considerable amount of research. You should set personal goals (i.e. how much money you want to earn, when you want to retire, how much volunteer work you want to commit, etc…) and business goals (i.e. how many solicitations you will make per week, how many events you will attend per month, etc…). Once you chart out a plan, it becomes easier to hold yourself accountable and set guidelines. Success doesn’t come overnight…it comes to disciplined people that achieve their goals.
6) Evaluate yourself
In life, and business, we are prone to failure. Generally, we learn the most from failed initiatives. So don’t be afraid to fail as long as you are comfortable evaluating yourself and making changes. Identify key areas where you need to improve, focus more/less time and make changes to adopt those items.
7) Keep learning
Now, more then ever, it’s important to embrace continuing education. Your brain is a sponge, fill it with knowledge. Education can be found within your industry (i.e. industry sites, blogs, magazines, etc…) and outside of your industry (i.e. Inc. Magazine, NPR, Harvard Business Review, podcasts, etc…). Dedicate 10-20 minutes a day to read and expand your knowledge base. Seek opportunities to share your opinion, blog and speak at events. Successful entrepreneurs have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
8) Expect success
Simply put…erase negative thoughts. You are bound to fail. You are bound to succeed. Put trust in your skills and processes. There is no room for “stinking thinking.”
9) Find a mentor
Mentors are extremely helpful – especially when you are starting out. Mentors can be industry acquaintances, friends, relatives or business partners. No matter the person, simply ensure your mentor is willing to dedicate reciprocal time and resources to your growth. I’ve found that surrounding myself with successful people enables me to connect with more potential mentors/advisors. You should do the same.
What about you? Do you have and additional tips to add? Comment below with ways you juggle being a busy entrepreneur. I’d love to hear them!