With all that distilled into several pieces, I'm going to divulge what I have learned. The stupid (and not so stupid) mistakes that I just feel like I shouldnt've made (and neither should you). I’ve been writing my startup lessons for weeks (months?) now and I thought I’d share them with you.
Are you an entrepreneur? Want to quit your day job (or maybe not) and start a business? Take it from someone who’s spent some serious time doing it. This isn't my first business and likely won't be my last.
#1 Let your goals guide you.
Wandering aimlessly is adventurous. However, most of the time it’s unfruitful. Think strategically (and incrementally) about what you want. Take 3 or 6 months in the future and ponder with your co-founders (those are handy). Then, turn those goals into real-life deliverables. What do you need to do by tomorrow? Then, go do it. Santa couldn't be wrong with his whole checklist thing.
#2 Don’t waste time feeling frustrated about your mistakes.
Fix it, learn from your error and move on. Dwelling on the past only disables you to move on. It can feel so emotionally empowering (or so you think) to really consider where you went wrong, why, how and who brought you to that place. Well, 2 weeks pass and you realize you just missed some really important consideration because you're daydreaming about your mistake. Learn. Kvetch. Then move.
#3 Enjoy the moment.
This is a hard one for entrepreneurs. I know because I am one. Never satisfied. Feeling like there's no time for savoring the moment. "Yeah, I did that really well. I should thank myself." I'm not talking about a whole weekend off (God forbid). I'm talking about finding out what you really enjoy on the way there and treating yourself. Entrepreneurship should be fun. If it’s not, you need to re-energize.
#4 Don’t get burnt out.
This is similar to #3 but goes farther. Be conscientious about enjoying and being fruitful in where you are. When you enjoy the moment, you're less likely to burn out. What about noting the warning signs of burnout? Especially if your work feels like work—ie. It’s an activity you don’t enjoy doing. Sometimes it’s necessary and you simply have to do sales and you hate it. Well, you can only grow from that instance. But along the way, reward yourself for being such a good sport. What a good salesperson you were (for example)!
#5 Know what 'work smarter' means to you.
There’s a lie circulating that small business owners don’t work a lot. That’s a lie. Well, not exactly. In most business models, a certain number of hours per week is needed to sustain the growth of the company. Take the consultancy model. You create a list of high priced businesses and broker the time of subcontractors. While that's not as high-touch as say, a cafe or restaurant (which takes tons more time), your level of time commitment should match your personal needs.
Say what? You haven't considered your personal needs here? Mistake. If your goal is to be hands-off (and have more of a 4-hour work week for example), then do consider that during your own feasibility research. Testing and validating your business model is something you should be doing constantly.
This is also cross posted to the Built In Chicago blog here.
Well, now I'm at it again, I'm excited to continue the next part in my 5 part series. Till next time! Have your own ideas that you'd like to share? Comment below!