It’s been six years in business.
As I reflect, personally things are pretty good – though summer weather has been miserable & politics have been challenging – all-in-all life is good!
We have decided to prepare for the next stage of life by selling the house and started looking for a condo in an adult – not seniors – development.
Part of that decision-making process has been a quiet reflection on my work & business.
Looking back now, I realize that I didn’t have a great plan, but I was sure I would figure it out as I went along.
Since then, I’ve had many ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons you can’t absorb from books or endless research.
Lessons that only come from doing it for yourself.
So if you are an entrepreneur or you’re thinking about becoming one, I have some advice for you.
Here are 9 things I have learned in the past six years of being an entrepreneur:
- Provide 100% Service to your Customers
The first lesson is to give your clients or customers the best possible service you can. Everything flows from doing your job well. If you have two clients, make them feel like you are 100% dedicated to them. If you have 20 clients, make sure they all think are your only client.
If you are selling a product, you should be constantly iterating so that the product they receive is becoming more and more responsive to the needs of the market.
- Listen to Your Customer
It’s important to listen to what your customer wants, and you may need to change your offerings to suit that desire.
Your customer will seldom clearly articulate what they want. You need to get it out of them by asking questions and communicating clearly.
If you are in a service profession like I am, it’s important to understand your client’s expectations and desires at the outset. It’s also important to set expectations in advance, so your client doesn’t have inflated or unreasonable expectations of what you are capable of achieving.
Even if you achieve a great result, some clients may not be happy if they had an expectation in their head of how the result would be achieved or what it would cost them.
- Have Long-Term Goals and Work Towards Them
Your business a few years from now may not look the same as it does today.
The market may change, your needs may evolve, and/or your interests may wane.
It’s important to evaluate what you want your business to look like 3 years, 5 years and 10 years from now, and then to take steps to move your business in that direction.
- Don’t Lose Sight of Short Term
I’ve always been a day dreamer and I am better at dreaming up ideas than implementing them.
But if you ignore the short-term revenue needs for your business, you’ll never get to achieving your long-term dreams because you’ll go bankrupt.
- Engage in Regular Planning
I’ve written before about the significant role planning has played in my business.
Take the time to plan out your days, weeks and months.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Try and But Put An End Date On Failure
I do not believe in failure as a learning lesson, Failing-Fast, or that failing is good.
New ideas and new products require time to succeed but set a time limit to experiment and if it doesn’t work, call it a failure and stop it.
Like they say, if you keep digging yourself into a hole the first thing to do is to stop shovelling.
Failure happens. Move on.
- Be Disciplined
When you are an entrepreneur, it’s easy to slack off, in large ways and small.
I find that most entrepreneurs don’t lose discipline in large ways. They don’t take a whole day off to go surfing very often, unless they have put in the hard work up front to earn it.
But some entrepreneurs do slack off in more granular, yet still-insidious ways.
It’s important to figure out what formula works for you and continue it. For example, here’s Always
- Always Try To Kill Two Birds with One Stone
One of the things I’ve learned is the value of automation and stretching your time further. Now, if I have a repetitive task I can automate, I do it. That frees up my time to spend on more worthy endeavors.
When I drive, walk the dog or run, I invest in my professional development by listening to podcasts or audio books.
- People Will Lie To You (Bonus Tip)
Family, friends, past workmates, new colleagues and others DO NOT want to hurt our feelings, so they won’t tell you that your latest entrepreneurial brain wave is stupid.
People will tell you that they want to do business with you.
They aren’t being mean, and they sincerely believe they are being kind.
But you need to find a honest coach, mentor and critical eye for your business.
That’s it from me.
What advice do you have for being a better entrepreneur?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.