In the seven years I have been an entrepreneur, I have learned a thing or two about succeeding (and failing) as a business owner and a mom. When you don’t apply or follow these keys, business and life is a huge struggle that saps your energy, focus, and can make you want to throw your hands up and quit. On the other hand, when you do follow them, everything just seems simpler and runs better (not always easier – you are still running a business). So whether you are considering launching a business, in the start-up phase, or working on growing your business, these keys are all applicable.
1. Be Present. This is my number one rule as a Naptime CEO™. When I am working, I focus on work, not the sweeper that needs run, the bills that need paid, or why the kids are making so much noise upstairs (that’s our babysitter’s job). On the flip-side, when I’m in Mama-mode I focus on my family and not the calls coming in to my phone, the proposal that needs written, or the emails that need replied to. This is not easy, but very important if you want to do anything with excellence.
2. Surround Yourself with Wise People. One of my favorite Proverbs is Proverbs 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (NIV). It can be very easy to slip into a pattern of working on your business, doing client development, and then the delivery. Then all too soon, you’ve developed “Lone Wolf Syndrome.” When you isolate yourself you get a distorted view of your business, good or bad. Seek out other business leaders and entrepreneurs you trust and invite their advice. Learn from others and realize you are not the only one sitting where you are.
3. Be Transparent. Okay, this can be a hard one because we want everyone to think we have it all together all the time. Besides, who hasn’t heard the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it?” Now I’m not advocating sharing all your mistakes and insecurities with your clients. You want to instill trust and confidence in them. However, when talking with your advisers (you did #2, right?), your team members, and even your family, be open enough to admit when you’re really struggling with something or what you’re really excited about. People appreciate authenticity and are more willing to help, support, and encourage you when you are open. Caution: This is NOT a license to whine, gripe, or complain about every single hurdle you encounter.
4. Support Someone Else’s Vision. There will be times when building or growing your business, you lose sight of your vision for that business. Or maybe, you just want more vision for your business but don’t know how to get it. Here’s how to solve that problem: go find someone who has great vision for their project or business and help them. There will most likely not be any financial or business gain for you. However, by helping them work towards and achieve their vision, you in turn will gain greater vision for your business. I have two mastermind/accountability groups I participate in. By encouraging and helping the others in my groups, I gain tons of vision for my own businesses.
5. Do Something That Scares You. Alright, being an entrepreneur can be scary enough in and of itself, but it’s the exciting anticipation scary like riding a roller coaster. Yet, there are times in your business when you know what you’re doing, you have clients and revenue, and you can get comfortable and complacent. It’s at this point, when you can end up hurting your business because you’re not developing new services or products, you slack off the business development, and you lose sight of what your competitors are doing. Go find something that scares you and connect yourself with others who are doing the same thing. I joined a 13-in-13 challenge that my friends Steve and Jody Berkey, of 90 Revolutions, kicked off. The plan is in 13 weeks to go run 13 miles (a half marathon). This is a really intimidating – but doable – goal for me and is helping me to not get comfortable with my life right now when things are going rather smoothly. Remember: Comfort is death on the installment plan.
So there are my top 5 keys to being a better entrepreneur. I realize there are many others, what are some of yours?