Dreams don’t always become reality, at least not on your timeline.
That’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a business owner. Too bad it took attending the school of hard knocks and letting life, the most valuable teacher, impart this wisdom into my stubborn brain.
Taking the plunge into the entrepreneurial ocean has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’d always had a grand vision of running a business where everything would just work itself out, but man was I sadly mistaken. The first two years were inundated with storm after storm that seemed practically impossible to weather. Each time I took one step forward, I took two steps back.
Fortunately, I made up in my mind that it was all or nothing, and figured out ways to endure through the tough times. And guess what? I’m still standing.
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, especially during the startup years, you will face storms. But it’s how you react that determines the outcome.
I’ve met tons of aspiring entrepreneurs who had brilliant ideas, but I didn’t quite realize that mega success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication. And most of those who went on to pursue their passions quickly threw in the towel once they realized the path ahead was filled with roadblocks, and it would take some time to start generating income.
I wish someone would have warned me to control my thoughts before I opened up shop. During the initial months, when things weren’t going my way, I’d sit and have a pity party because I knew I had the tools to get what so and so had, but luck simply wasn’t on my side. But what I failed to realize is that looks can be deceiving; that the individual or company I was comparing myself to was seasoned, had been in the game for several years, and once traveled the same road I was currently on.
The point I’m trying to make is that in order to survive the tough times, you really have to adopt a mind-over-matter outlook. Stay focused and determined, and be willing to do whatever it takes to power through and reach the prize. Most importantly, don’t spend time letting your thoughts paralyze you.
Embrace your fears. Fear is a dangerous emotion that only heightens with procrastination, so the longer you spend contemplating whether or not to move forward, the more you’ll talk yourself out of doing something that can change the course of your business. And don’t expect everyone around you to be supportive; some may be hoping you fail, whether it’s out of a selfish desire to prove a point or pure jealousy.
Having the courage to embrace your fears may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end. Besides, most of those traumatizing visions you’ve had about failure won’t come to pass — unless, of course, you quit. Ok, moving on.
Speak to your market! The famous phrase “features tell, but benefits sell” is spot on. With any of your promotional content or copy, your primary goal should be to captivate the attention of your target market so you’re their first and only choice.
Once you’ve earned their business, be sure to solicit feedback so you can continue to produce offerings tailored to their lifestyle. Besides, what better and more cost-efficient way is there to learn about your target market than from their own mouths?
Remember, it’s not about you: It’s all about your customers, and what you can do to meet their needs. Miss this point and you could quickly find yourself out of business.
Here’s my favorite…Balance.
When my oldest daughter was born, my life was centered upon her, at least for the first year or so. I took her everywhere I went and her mood affected my actions for the day. (That eventually got old when major fatigue set in; I had to learn to relinquish control).
Anyhow, your new business can seem like a newborn baby in your eyes, but don’t get so strapped to it that it becomes the epitome of your existence or you will burn out. The last thing you should be doing when you’re about to lose your shit! (yup, I said it) is making critical decisions or snapping at employees or clients. I’m totally guilty of this.
Instead, set aside some time to engage in activities that make you happy and don’t forget to get out and explore the world. You only have one life to live, and the business will be waiting for you when you return. This is one of the reasons I started this blog, which should be filled with more travel and fashion stuff but Ive decided to incorporate my knowledge with my readers (upon request).
Lastly, entrepreneurship is like a roller-coaster ride. In the first few years, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to stay relevant. And once you’re established, never stop putting yourself out there or things could go downhill rather quickly.
Now, take a moment and breathe! The first months, even years, of running your own business are often the very hardest. But you will get through this rough patch. I’ve been there on several occasions, but it’s in those weakest moments that I have to remember why I started. You may cry now, but you’ll laugh later as your business grows and you’re able to sit back and reflect on just how far you’ve come on your entrepreneurial journey.