It was about 2 years ago when I stepped out in faith with that fresh LLC certificate, some sort of dream, and buckets of fear. I was excited and terrified all at once but excited kept winning the race. I’d spent decades talking about “starting a business someday” but someday became today in the blink of an eye. Looking back, I’ve found the things that have worked well are not really the advice I’d read from others. The entrepreneurship journey is different for everyone but here are a few of my surprising secrets to success
1. Don’t build it before they come. In that pivotal, scary, tumultuous first year, I found myself putting off launching, talking about what I did, and holding off bringing on more clients while I “figured things out.” Looking back now, I can confidently say I was trying to build the perfect business and brand before I really put myself out there. I’d dip my toe into getting word out and then back pedal often because I found myself worrying I wasn’t ready. Friend, let me tell you that you figure things out through the work. In fact, you’re robbing yourself of the lessons you need to learn to build your process each and every time you play small and avoid getting yourself out there. Even before you have a logo, website, and everything else, tell every single person you know what you are up to!
2.Quit looking at your bank account. You probably think that carefully watching your business cash flow, budget, and expenses will lead to profitability. You’d be right…but it’s super important not to obsess over these details. In the early days, I found myself fixated on checking the bank account balance, considering overhead items I might want to cancel, and which invoices were paid and outstanding. While you should definitely keep a budget, know your cost of goods sold, and watch your profit margins, revenue producing activities will always trump cost saving activities. My company’s best months ever were the ones where I got so caught up serving my clients that I forgot all about accounting. Even now that my business makes multiple six figures, I still know if I let myself obsess over the numbers, I will worry just as much as I did when I was just starting out.
3. Switch your focus from professional development to personal development. If you are anything like me, you spent most of your career focused on professional development. What new skills should I learn next? What professional organizations should I join? How do I get on the management track? That works fine in the corporate world but once you own a business, a shift happens. As an entrepreneur, your business success hinges directly on your personal growth. These days, I’m armed with a business coach, a personality coach (using the Enneagram as a tool), and a good therapist. If I look back at all the investments I’ve made, I’d guarantee that these three people have the best return on investment in my business. Not long ago, my business coach asked me “Can we just consider for one moment that maybe you were made exactly as you are supposed to be?” She probably didn’t even realize how impactful those words were but after that call, I started designing my process, team, and services around a life that fits who I am…instead of vice versa. When we don’t design our businesses around who we really are, we will subconsciously resist revenue and opportunities that come our way.
There you have them. 3 surprising secrets to success. Whether they were surprising or not, I hope you’ll take each one to heart. The world needs your talents and your business, whatever it may be. Don’t let anything hold you back.