6. Compete Only With Yourself. While mushing a dog sled across an Alaskan glacier, I learned firsthand that if you're not the lead dog, the view from the rear never changes. And the rear is exactly where you'll be if you compete only with others. Innovate--don't imitate. To excel in enterprise, you must be aware of your competition, but you can't allow that awareness to steer you off course. Compete with your own best performance--be the lead dog your competitors imitate, and you'll leave them with that rear view.
If anyone had told me 24 years ago that I could own a multimillion-dollar company, I wouldn't have believed it. It took me two decades to learn these secrets. I wish some millionaire entrepreneur had shared them with me sooner. I invite you to use these six secrets to earn the ultimate payoff: the satisfaction of creating your own million-dollar business.
5 Promises to Keep
Vickie L. Milazzo, founder and president of the Vickie Milazzo institute, uses the following promises to guide her every decision. The magic of the promises is that they are simple and can work for any entrepreneur.
1. I will live and work a passionate life. Listen to your heart; then build your enterprise based on that passionate desire. When you wake up every day to a business you love, you'll do what it takes to succeed.
2. I will go for it or reject it outright. Don't spend your life in a holding pattern. Do it or forget it. Make a plan, and be realistic. Do you have time? Can you afford it? If not, reject it and come up with an attainable goal.
3. I will take one action step each day toward my ultimate vision. Unfulfilled dreams make people miserable. Acting on those dreams makes people happy. By taking action every day, you develop the habit and discipline to make your dream a reality. Success is in the motion.
4. I commit to being a success student for life. Anyone can launch a new business. Growing a successful business, however, requires learning every day from every available resource, including books, classes and especially successful mentors.
5. I believe I can do anything. Believing is 90 percent of the win. Imagine your success with sensory detail. If you believe you'll achieve your goal--no matter what the challenges, no matter what anyone else tells you--you will succeed.
Top 18 Dos and Don'ts for Business Startups
Do engage big things that can grow your business dramatically.
Do practice uncompromising integrity at all times.
Do live beneath your means, and have six months of business and living expenses in savings.
Do develop a strategic business plan, solidly emphasizing marketing.
Do choose a company name that will still represent you in five, 10 and 20 years.
Do ditch perfectionism; get yourself and your product out there now.
Do hire professionals to help in any area where you're not an expert, especially for your marketing materials.
Do have a backup plan, not just for your computer, but for every essential system.
Do start building your customer database before you start building your business.
Don't get distracted by naysayers; trust your vision.
Don't quit your day job until you're making real money.
Don't risk losing your home by getting a home equity loan; explore other financing options instead.
Don't invest in unnecessary bells and whistles such as expensive office furniture.
Don't try to do it all yourself; delegate to family members until you can afford to hire your first employee.
Don't cut corners on image; invest wisely in quality promotional materials and your wardrobe.
Don't get addicted to time-stealers like e-mail and voice mail.
Don't wait for the phone to ring; go after your prospects.
Don't let stress wear you down; make time to take care of yourself.
Vicki L. Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is the author of Inside Every Woman: Using the 10 Strengths You Didn't Know You Had to Get the Career and Life You Want Now.