6 Powerful Lessons I Learned Early in Entrepreneurship
In October of 2020, I left the safety of a well-paid executive job for the unknown and exciting world of entrepreneurship. I can still remember my mother’s shocked expression when I informed her that even though we were in the midst of a global pandemic and I had a second baby on the way, I was going to follow a life-long dream of setting out on my own.
The way I looked at it was that I had been preparing for this moment for the last 16 years. When I finished university, I took the traditional route and accepted a job with a successful global consulting organization, despite having the opportunity to break out on my own. “I need more experience,” I would offer as an excuse, year after year, as I climbed the corporate ladder and ignored that call into the unknown. The older I got, the louder it became — so loud in the end that I had to take action. After engaging the services of a coach and building clarity on what I was passionate about, I set a timer for 365 days, then started working backward on what was needed to set up what became High Performance Coaching. At this writing just over seven months into that journey, I wanted to share with you some of the biggest things I’ve learned while moving from the comfort and security of a corporate job into the messy, fulfilling and thrilling world of entrepreneurship.
Cultivate an unstoppable mindset
I have an alarm on my phone that goes off every morning and reminds me, “If you need encouragement, then don’t become an entrepreneur”. These are words taken from one of my idols, Elon Musk. The truth, though, is that I do need encouragement, but it comes from me — from an internal voice that says, “I don’t know where we are going, but we have to keep moving forward”. Developing that unstoppable mindset has been critical to overcoming the challenges associated with trying to get a business started and revenue coming in.
Get insanely good at key skills
Sure, you can delegate, but it's likely at the start that you won’t have the cash, and in my opinion shouldn’t delegate the things that really move the needle in your business, which for any successful start-up include sales and marketing. I’ve become religious about increasing proficiency in these key skills, and have recently learned a significant amount about them, despite already having experience in both. I’ve invested in books, courses and mentors, and its all starting to pay off.
Build strong habits
Consistency is key, and 80% of success is just showing up. You need to build habits that help you to show up at your desk, make those calls, write those emails and iterate through that product offering day after day until you get it right. I’ve found building strong habits takes the thinking out of performing tasks that could otherwise become mundane after a time. For me, every day starts the same — between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. — with building my pipeline on social media. After dropping off the kids at school, I work on any projects that will move the needle the most, which are often the creative ones I find the hardest to complete. I’ve built a habit of prioritizing the hardest but most important tasks first.
Be part of a strong community of like-minded people
One of the greatest investments I made at the start of my entrepreneurial journey was to invest in myself and my business by joining a business accelerator program run by Dent Global. It has given me access to training, mentorship and, most importantly, a community of like-minded people that I can share wins and failures with. I can’t express enough the power of community when you are out there on your own trying to make a mark in the world. For me, community is the glue that binds all these other recommendations together.
Protect the downside
A friend and fellow entrepreneur gave me some pivotal advice at the start of my entrepreneurial process. It was about a year between making the decision to go out on my own and actually leaving full-time employment, and the imparted wisdom was to first get into the best health of my life, reduce any financial liabilities, work on building savings to cover personal expenses for a year, and finally, make certain that I had the right insurance in the event of something happening to me.
Find the support of a strong partner
Without this last component, I think most would be lost. My wife has been a constant source of encouragement, advice and creative contribution. The support of a spouse, partner, family member or great friend is a factor that comes up time and time again when I talk with successful entrepreneurs. Having someone to pick you up when you are down and help you to see things anew is critical to any business journey.
I genuinely believe there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, and strongly encourage anyone who has an interest or passion for making an impact on their own terms to at least try.