This is part 2 of a 3 part series. (see part 1 here) Continuing with my series of lessons I’ve learned in the last 5 years of being an entrepreneur, I hope you can learn from lessons 6-10:
Lesson #6: No Sales, No Business
Initially in my business everything was bugging me because it was not quite the way I wanted it. My business cards were not quite right, my website looked wrong, my filing method could be better, my marketing needed to be more effective, my computer was outdated, my suits were the wrong color, etc. I wanted to stop everything and fix the many small problems that I had. Sometimes I did just that: I took time out to fix things that were simply “bugging me”. But the big over-arching ambition I should have been focused on in the early years was sales. With no sales, there is no business. I had to accept the fact that I must run an imperfect business and still make sales to keep the doors open. I learned that it is better to focus on completion rather than perfection regarding the small stuff and that my pride was my biggest enemy, trying to do every small task perfectly. I took hours of my valuable time in the early years to fix something very peripheral while jeopardizing my success due to lost sales. No sales, no business. Today I can afford to take time enjoying fixing some of the small things that bugged me 5 years ago, but in the beginning sales were tantamount to business survival. Delay perfecting or even doing the small stuff until sales are abundant.
Lesson #7: Focus on Goals & Time Management
Einstein gave us the Theory of Relativity by showing how energy and mass are related with E=MC2 . Now I am not Einstein, but I have come to see that Goals & Time management are also related. I wish I could give an equation here, but I believe Goals without Time Management are hard to achieve. Likewise Time Management that is not acting without specific goals in mind could also be misconstrued. I believe that a winning combination is to have written, specific goals combined with a plan on paper to manage time. Each night I have developed the habit of planning my day on paper for the following day. Each morning I review my goals and visualize accomplishing them. Then I let myself get excited about the day knowing I am moving closer to my goals. To learn more about goals & time management I recommend reading some of my earlier blogs I have posted. Find out how much a written daily plan & goals can change your life.
Lesson #8: Develop a Database
A business needs to operate with a central hub – a database. Early on I learned from one of my mentors, Eric Lofholm, that I needed a way to collect, organize, and follow up with my contacts/clients. Initially I started out simply using my Outlook Contacts sorted by folders. It was an easy and inexpensive way for me to organize and follow up with people at the right time. I also sorted my database to hold not only prospects & clients, but mentors and potential partners. I know that my database was essential for my success and I would have missed out on many opportunities without it.
Lesson #9: Systemize Your Business
In the early years everything felt very chaotic. So much to do, so little time, so many places to go, things to learn, people to see. This was all very stressful & unsustainable. Systemizing the business meant having order and structure to the chaos. One of the easiest things to systemize was a schedule; what time to get up each day, what needs to be done, when to go to bed, etc. Having a system in place made my work a lot less stressful and my rhythmic. I have developed a marketing system, a daily planning system, a weekly planning system, a cash flow system, a filing system, a sales system and more. Honestly I don’t follow all these systems perfectly, but knowing the plan helps me not feel chaotic and overwhelmed anymore. Plus I get tons done! And if the system is not working I will analyze it and adjust it until I have it right, over and over and over.
Lesson #10: Continuously Learn
Jim Rohn, the late business guru loved to say, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job”. This was a tough one for me because I was already working crazy hard on my job. The idea that I needed to work even harder on my own “Personal Development” seemed overwhelming. Truth be told this is something I have not completely got my arms around as of late, but I have incorporated daily reading/learning into my written schedule. I have come to see that my business is a reflection of my own habits, skills, and personality. In order to improve my business I also need to improve myself. Simply improving myself was one of the best ways to improve my business.