5 Years of Lessons in Entrepreneurship – Part 3 of 3

This is the final post in a 3-part series of lessons I’ve learned in the last 5 years of being an entrepreneur  (see part 1 or part 2).

Businessman Holding PaperLesson 11: Say No Often

My success is due in part because I said “NO” to many appealing, fun, cool opportunities. I may not be the smartest guy, but I have become the guy that is selective about how I use my time and I try to minimize distractions. The late Zig Ziglar loved to say, “If you do the ought to do, when you ought to do them then the time will come when you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them.” The early years I said no to many social gatheringss simply because I knew I needed to take care of business. I have more time these days, but still am selective about how I spend my time.

Lesson #12: Work “on” the Business, Not Just in The Business

One of the most powerful books I have read in the last 5 years has been Michael Gerber’s The EMyth. Here Gerber makes the distinction between the three inner personalities of the business owner:  The Entrepreneur, the Technician, and the Manager. Gerber shows how these personalities interact and how important it is to work on the business instead of just in the business. Working on the business is the structure, the systems, and the mechanics that code the business operations. An employee is the one who works in the business.  I have come to see that neglecting to work on the business is similar to neglecting to work on yourself. Both need attention and focus.

cuttingtrees-hardworkLesson #13: Read

There once was a woodsman who was in charge of clearing a forest. Someone told him he could do a better job if he simply took the time out to sharpen his axe. To which is replied “How can I take time to sharpen my axe? I have all this forest to clear!”
Working hard on your job without taking the time to work hard on yourself is like not sharpening your axe. If I could do anything over from the past five years different, one of the biggest areas would be taking more time out to read. Just one article, book, or audio could change your entire perspective. Today I have loads of audio in my car so when I travel I can use my time productively. I have developed a small library of crucial reading and am always looking at how I can add to my little collection.  Find ways to take time out to read and grow.

Lesson #14: Embrace the 6-day Workweek

I know this flies in the face of Tim Ferris’ book “The Four Hour Work Week”, but I have come to believe that starting a company takes total dedication, drive, determination, perseverance and time. By no means does it need to be permanent, but initially I think a 6-day workweek is required. In Jeff Olson’s book The Slight Edge he talks about how races are won and lost by a very small margin. Likewise businesses win or fail by small disciplines, or an edge. I decided to help secure my success I would sacrifice my Saturdays and work at least a ½ day in order to succeed. This became part of my slight edge; that I would work Saturday and it has truly made a big difference.

Lesson #15: Dream the Dream & Build the Team.

One of my business trainers, Eric Lofholm, passed this phrase on to me and it was previously passed on to him from someone else, so I can’t cite the exact origin. This past year I have really started to see the wisdom here. You simply cannot do it all yourself, at least not well. You were born with certain skills, gifts and talents that really shine when used in your business for the right job. In running a company there will be jobs that you are great at and those that you struggle at. Find ways to hire out the jobs that you are not great at because your time is better doing the things that you are great at. Tim Ferris is a big proponent of this thinking, the idea of focusing on your strengths and getting someone else to do the rest. A small example of this is that I realized I am wasting my time ironing my shirts simply because it takes me forever to do it and I don’t do it well anyway (plus the fact that I hate doing it). So I no longer iron. I also no longer wash my car, clean my toilet, do my IT, or send out my direct mail. I’ve done all of that on my own and found that my time is better spent elsewhere. I get someone else to do those jobs. Hiring the right people to do the right jobs has been one of the best accelerators in my business and made my life a lot less stressful. Don’t lone wolf it, even if you are just starting out on your own; get the right people on your team!
Well there it is: 15 of my top lessons from my first 5 years. I hope you have found these tips helpful. To learn more, subscribe to our blog here and give us a like on Facebook to see posts there!  

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