In his book "Maverick Startup," serial entrepreneur Yanik Silver lays out his strategies for turning your big idea into a profitable business, without taking on debt, partners or even a business plan. In the following excerpt, Silver focuses on what's often an entrepreneur's last consideration: their personal life.
I know for many entrepreneurs, including me, the default mode is work. There are always too many projects and too many to-dos left undone. That's why I believe you need to have something else scheduled and on the calendar.
Think back to when you were a kid and what activities or interests got you really jazzed and excited. As adults, many of us have lost that sense of fun and inspiration. Put fun activities, rewarding experiences and exceptional adventures on your calendar and protect them like you would any "real" appointment.
I've always been a fan of lists and I know many other successful people share this notion. What better list can you create than a list for your most memorable and exciting life?
This is pretty easy and encompasses everything I want to do, have or become before I die. The hard part is sitting down and just jotting down the list. Most of my list is centered around "do:" Fly my own plane, donate $10 million to charities in my lifetime, visit Russia, where I was born, and participate in the Olympics.
Your list is unique to you. In one afternoon you could get at least 25 to 50 items on your own list. The first few are easy, but then you really have to dig into what would make you happy. What excited you as a kid? What have you always wanted to do? What have you always wanted to be?
Don't get bogged down in what other people will think. Don't put something on your list that doesn't excite you or put it there because you think you're supposed to. Hey, if you don't want to save the whales, don't put it on your list.
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Think without putting conditions or restrictions on your list. It doesn't matter if you think it's dumb, or couldn't really happen or think others will laugh at you. So what? Go with your heart and just get it down. There's no harm in writing it down even if it doesn't happen.
Do I really think I'll be in the Olympics? Probably not -- but there's a tiny shot. My publicist is a friend of the former publicist for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. I don't know how many people are waiting in line to go 80 mph headfirst down an icy track, so who knows if I'd get a tryout? But if I didn't throw it out there to the universe and write it down, I know I wouldn't hear the faint knocking of opportunity.
How do you get your life list completed? Write it down. If you do nothing but write 50 to 100 items in your list, you'll be surprised at how many get done in a year without your ever looking at them again.
Schedule it. This is where a lot of people fall down, but unless you schedule your fun, it won't happen, because you can always do one more work item and your inbox will never be empty. Think about your vacation: it's scheduled and it happens precisely because it is scheduled. The more fun you schedule into your life, the more you'll get.
When I hear people say they don't have time for something, it really means that item is not a priority for them. The excuse of "I don't have time" is commonly accepted, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It's up to you to decide what your priorities are. And if a priority is living a full, rich life with incredible experiences and adventures, then you'll create the time and schedule items from your list.
A close cousin to not having enough time is believing you can't get away from your business long enough to do any of the fun items on your list. Freedom is the operative word for entrepreneurs, and unless we exercise it by stepping away from the office, we become nothing more than servants to our businesses. You might believe you're indispensable, but nearly everyone, including you, is replaceable. It's important to step back and see if you are truly operating on activities in your business that are core competencies and unique abilities where you excel.
You've probably heard of the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your activities produce 80 percent of the results. Conversely, 80 percent of your activities create 20 percent of the results. So if you focus on the critical few activities that produce 80 percent of the results, that will free up your time to do even more outside of work.
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Yanik Silver, a serial entrepreneur based in Potomac, Md., is the author of Maverick Startup: 11 X-Factors to Bootstrap From Zero to Six Figures and Beyond from Entrepreneur Press.