27 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started In Business, Life And Entrepreneurship…
What a ride. I’ve always said —there are few things out there designed to test your sanity and resilience than starting your own business and taking the entrepreneurship leap.
When I look back, I can now see how little I knew, how naive I’ve been, and how many failures I’ve been a part of.
But I can also see powerful growth, incredible results and a lifetime of lessons I wouldn’t trade for the world.
I’d figured I’d package these together and share them with you.
We’ve got no time to waste, so let’s hop in.
1. Free time means freedom. No, it doesn’t. It means insanity, anxiety and lack of direction.
I remember quitting my corporate job in a blaze of glory. And then, I woke up the next day with no plans, no structure and nowhere to be. That’s when it hit me: free time is not freedom.
Often, unscheduled free time leads to getting in our own head about what’s not working.
2. The ‘high’ of starting out will last. Give it a few months, and it’ll be replaced with the ‘low’ of time passing with little results.
Everyone’s inspired when they first set out on their own —that’s the easy part.
However, passion will fade and be replaced by a shrinking bank account and endless reminders you’re running out of time to make your dream a reality.
(And don’t tell anyone, but newly minted entrepreneurs start to miss their bi-weekly bank deposits.)
3. You don’t have to niche down early on. Niching down when you’re new is tremendous pressure, and you may miss your audience completely.
You don’t have to sell comic book tote bags on day one. Sure, there is power in niching down eventually —but what I’ve found to be true is it paralyzes people.
As much as I love whiteboards and brainstorming, the most direct clarity you’ll achieve is by executing.
4. You’re not one funnel away. You’re not one anything away. Most things won’t work, a few will…for a little while.
…away from what, exactly? I assume from sitting on the beach in Mexico sipping a sugar laden drink and releasing all worries to the world.
This mindset assumes there’s some type of endgame —but there’s not.
5. You need a website, business card or business plan. If they make you feel better, they’re worth it. But they’re far from essential.
I’ve spent $50,000 on websites with minimal return. Often, people wait to give themselves permission until they have one of these to become ‘official.’
The problem is, there’s always something else you need to become official. How about you simply choose it instead?
PRO TIP: If you do have one of these, make it unique and different.
6. Living on purpose is easy, and you’ll always be on fire. You won’t, and some days it’s really hard.
Some days, you’re going to wish you didn’t have a dream. You’re going to wish you could simply get in line, follow orders and live the normal life.
7. You’ll feel like you have it figured out when you [insert big outcome.] No, you won’t.
Newsflash: you’ll never feel like you have it figured out. Each level of success or breakthrough will bring a new perspective, and often —more questions.
8. Passion is everything. No, it’s simply a spark to get going —skill acquisition makes you invaluable.
Passion is cheap, and can be found everywhere. Trust me, I love passion and pour myself a double every morning, but the mistake of thinking it’s enough leaves people stuck.
Instead, be ruthless with skill acquisition —this is what makes you valuable in the marketplace.
9. You have to be on every platform: blog, podcast, social media, email, etc. Not true, pick one pillar platform and dedicate yourself to it for 18 months.
Stop trying to be omnipresent early on. Instead, pick the platform that lights you up and where you can find the people you want to serve.
For me, that was the Academy podcast —because I know if someone listens to an episode and stays with us, they’re my people.
10. There’s a right time to hire someone. There isn’t, and most people won’t not because of the money, but because now they’re only left to do the essential (and that’s scary.)
One of the most difficult decisions for entrepreneurs who start to grow is their first hire. They’ll do anything and anything to avoid it.
The essential, however —are those 2-3 things you do better than anyone else and provide the most value to the marketplace.
11. Managing your emotions is a crucial skill in business, particularly as an entrepreneur.
Without a doubt, the number one skill any entrepreneur must become proficient with is the ability to manage his or her’s emotional state.
Otherwise, life and business will seem like an endless rollercoaster you can’t wait to get off.
12. Focused time to do the non-urgent, yet vitally important work is non-negotiable.
We’ve all had those days where we’re consumed with busywork, and doing a lot. Yet, we get to the end of the day and feel empty and unfulfilled.
Why? Because deep down, we know we didn’t move our lives and businesses forward in a meaningful way. This was a key topic and chapter in The 1% Rule.
13. “Grabbing coffee” usually goes nowhere and leads to someone trying to get something from you or a colossal waste of time.
Every week, I get tasked for coffee or to connect. I used to say yes, until I realized it often led to nothing of value on either side —and if I respect you enough to agree to this, I respect your time too.
(PRO TIP: Ask anyone who requests this what the objective is, and keep it to 25 minutes.)
14. With whatever you’re selling, you’re the first one one the hook. If you don’t see, and own your value…no one else will.
It starts with you. If you can’t rise above the self criticism and see the value of your work, do you think others will?
15. Early on, you’re going to have to be willing to work with people who are not even close to your target demographic. It’s okay, serve them powerfully and put in the reps.
During my entrepreneurial career, I’ve served people from all walks of life —and taken on clients I would have never worked with today.
That’s fine, and will happen. The question is: are you willing to drop the ego and serve them powerfully?
16. You’re going to need an outlet to connect with people on the same path —specifically, to share challenges, vent and come up with solutions.
Even if all you had was a weekly meeting with 3-4 peers in your industry to discuss challenges, it would be a massive benefit to your sanity.
(PRO TIP: Your intimate relationship is NOT the place for this.)
17. This game is a (minimum) ten year commitment. If you don’t have ten years, don’t play.
The person who plays the short game is always looking for the next best thing. Why? Focus across a long period of time isn’t sexy.
18. The way you communicate your brand, product or service is as important (or sometimes more) important than the actual thing.
Seth Godin has taught me a lot of lessons, but this one really hits me. You must become obsessed .with being the best at what you do. But that’s only half of the game, you must also become obsessed how to get what you do in people’s hands.
19. You’re going to feel alone, a lot. Even in crowded rooms. Deal with it.
It’s part of the process few people talk about. In my post, The 6 Untold Secrets Of Entrepreneurs, I spoke of the challenges of solitude involved with what we do.
20. Everyone around you isn’t doing as amazing as it seems and most are trying to figure it out, too.
Protect your energy and your mindset when on social media. Yes, people are doing big things, but so are you. Don’t fall into the endless cycle of the comparison trap.
21. Only 10% of feedback, from the right people in the right context is valuable. Learn how to ask for it and discard 90%.
As you grow, it becomes inevitable you will have critics and negative feedback. Go check out the top books of all time and you’ll see a laundry list of one star reviews.
It’s okay, and remember: there’s a stark difference between valuable feedback and criticism.
(PRO TIP: as you grow in the marketplace, the critics WILL come.)
22. Every week, find one new task to delete. Space comes at a premium, and there’s always things we don’t need to be doing.
Delete, delete, delete. We’re always adding more to our plate, which I refer to as The Closet Principle. Meaning, for most of us —we wear 20% of the items in our closet 80% of the time.
23. Sharpening communication skills leads to results no matter what you do or who you are. Learn to ask better questions, listen with presence and influence.
Nothing will be more valuable than the skill of communication. While often people think this is speaking on stages or being great on video, that’s only half the battle.
Work on your empathy, body language and listening skills —and you’ll never be the same.
24. Taking time to ‘think’ and disconnect is not only great for your soul, it’s where you get life changing insights.
Thinking is a lost art in a hyper, scattered and always connected digital world. Swipe right, but not the usual kind —put your plane on Airplane mode.
25. Environment, where you live, work, train, and who you associate with becomes your anchor or catalyst. Choose wisely.
The fastest way to change your life is to change your environment. We all know which environment is no longer serving the person we want to be.
The faster you shift it, the more you’ll accelerate your results.
26. The best time to hire a coach or mentor was yesterday. Especially if you don’t have the cash…do it now.
I understand not everyone will put $25,000 on the line when they have $750 in their account and haven’t paid rent for the month.
I get it —but there’s a big opportunity cost to waiting. The moment you invest in the program, coach or mentor, you’re telling the world you’re worth it.
27. Your purpose can and will evolve, that’s part of the journey.
You don’t have to figure it all out today. Let the pressure off, and instead remember your purpose is in a constant evolution as you grow.
What a ride it’s been, and I love being able to be the student in this game we call life. Hopefully, some of these will resonate with you on your path.
Here’s a few resources I mentioned:
Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You
The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams
What do you have to add? Let’s hear it in the comments!