I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. In school I was always quiet, a good student, one who followed the rules. Most of my career was the same way, working my way up through hard work and doing a good job. Which is why, sitting here wrapping up one conference and preparing to run another one, I'm a bit surprised that that shy girl who always did what people told her to do somehow became her own boss.
I think we all have an entrepreneur inside of us. I think many of us have had the thought "I could start a business doing that..." where the "that" is something you're naturally good at, something you're passionate about and might consider doing as a living (if you could guarantee some income off of it). It's even more apparent now with social media. It's easy to see people who are starting their own businesses... stay at home moms banding together to create online shops filled with their favourite kids' products; self-taught graphic designers selling blog themes, gold-foil prints, or custom fabric on Spoonflower; hobby bloggers leaving their full-time jobs and making the leap into professional blogging. People doing what their heart leads them to do.
By no means do I have it all figured out, but I have learned a few things over the years that have enabled me to easily translate from just thinking about an idea to making it happen. I've never really shared about the business side of life here on the blog but I find it a fascinating topic. I find it so interesting to hear what other people have learned through trial and error so I thought I'd share five things I've learned being my own boss:
1. You Are Not Alone In Your Thinking
Have you ever had a great idea, sat on it, and days or weeks later see someone implement that exact same idea? Did you kick yourself for not acting on that idea earlier? I've had that happen many times. My theory is that we are all exposed to a similar basket of inputs: newscasts, trending articles, the same blog posts from our favourite DIY bloggers. Taking those inputs then, we might process that information in the same ways... and it leads us to having similar ideas or thoughts around the same time.
If you have an idea, chances are someone else has that same idea at the same time. Know that there is always 'competition' and use it to motivate you to act. Now.
2. Leap Before You're Ready
Added to the above, time is always of the essence. But many of us are hindered by the thought that we need to get things "perfect" before we act on them. The truth is, your ideas and your business will never be perfect. In order to survive and have longevity, businesses need to be changing, improving, and responsive to the current environment. So don't be afraid to leap before you're fully ready. Have the basics worked out and a growth strategy but don't worry if there are still a few loose ends to deal with - there always will be!
3. Know Your Limitations
There is the belief that if you're self-employed, you need to do "everything". From the accounting to the marketing, the production to the selling, entrepreneurs eat, sleep, and breathe their business. But I think that is a sure recipe for failure! You can't be good at everything but there are things you are great at. Focus on those. For everything else, find others who can complement your shortcomings. That might mean hiring a bookkeeper to do your invoicing, a virtual assistant to respond to your overflowing emails, or a blog designer to deal with those technical coding issues that make your head spin.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Fail
As an entrepreneur, the opportunity for failure comes with the territory. Failure means you tried. It means you have room to improve. It also means you're one step closer to success. So know that failure is a possibility but work to minimize its probability. Take risks but calculated ones.
5. Surround Yourself With Greatness
Throughout my corporate career, I always gravitated to working with strong women. I can look back now and see that these women acted as informal mentors. They pushed me to try things beyond my comfort zone. They gave me career guidance and helped me develop my confidence in my abilities. I think whatever work situation you're in, you need to have and seek out those people who can lead you by their example. If you surround yourself with people who are successful and accomplished, you are motivated to improve, grow, and achieve those levels yourself.
I'd love to hear - what are some of your best business tips? Are you self-employed? What motivated you to take the leap?