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7 Things I've Learned In 7 Years of Entrepreneurship After my dad died nine days after his cancer diagnosis, I started my business a few weeks later because I realized life is short. Here is what I have learned over the last seven years of entrepreneurship.

By Nicole Bernard Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • You are braver than most people just based on the fact that you have started your own business.
  • These seven strategies can help your entrepreneurial journey.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As I sit here on the eve of my dad's passing seven years ago, I'm reminded that my business will turn seven years old at the end of this month. Oh my, how things have changed since then! It is crazy to think of everything that I have learned and grown through since 2016.

You see, I started my business a few weeks after my dad passed away because I realized how short life can actually be. He was 71, with a good job in banking, but he always wanted to be an entrepreneur. He even tried a few different opportunities, but, sadly, they never grew to provide income close to his career.

My father's cancer returned so quickly that we only had nine days with him, and he didn't even have time to quit his job.

That got my attention.

At that time, I was working full-time for a marketing agency (which was fantastic, by the way), but I realized I wanted more. I think that's why a lot of us get started. I wanted more freedom to run things how I wanted, more freedom to be with my kids, more opportunities to increase my income and more ways to help businesses grow.

Technically, I have been an entrepreneur since 2007, when my husband and I started a small business, but this year marks the 7th year of my second entrepreneurial adventure, a marketing + consulting agency.

In honor of my dad, who was my biggest cheerleader and best friend, and celebrating seven years in business this month, I wanted to share seven things that I have learned about being an entrepreneur.

Related: 10 Things I've Learned In 10 Years of Running My Own Business

1. Mindset truly is everything

So cliche, I know. Like, seriously, I can hear how cheesy it sounds. But, it is the one thing you can rely on in business (and life). You get to decide how you feel and where you are going. You get to determine how you're going to react or not react to something. It is what will get you through the hard times and make you genuinely appreciate the great times.

Related: 5 Entrepreneurial Mindset Principles That Empower Financial Literacy

2. Get really comfortable being uncomfortable

Uh, there's no getting around this one. You'll feel uncomfortable starting out, and you'll feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there at events, podcasts or meetings. You'll feel really uncomfortable letting people or clients go. You'll feel uncomfortable investing in yourself and your business. Do it anyway. All of it. I don't know that this feeling ever goes away, but it does lose its potency at some point.

3. Build a network

This should be at the top of your list when you start out. Entrepreneurship can be a hard, scary and lonely road — especially if you're a solopreneur. Surround yourself with people who connect you with others, collaborate with you and celebrate with you! I can't tell you how many amazing people I have on the internet who have been the support I didn't even know that I needed.

My family loves hearing about my business and what I'm up to, but they just don't quite understand what I go through daily. That's where my awesome entrepreneur friends come in! It's also a bonus to refer businesses to each other — make a little economy for your business on top of confiding in each other over business matters. Find people like that - they're out there.

4. Automate as much as you can, but don't forget the human aspect of business

Automation makes our lives as business owners so much easier! But don't forget to add your own personal touch as much as possible. For example, please don't schedule a month's worth of social media posts and never hop on the platforms and engage. Not only will your followers feel that energy, but the algorithm will also see the inactivity and likely suppress any traction you're trying to create.

Humans like connection, even when it's with a business. Think about sending a handwritten card as opposed to an email. Things like that really make a difference in cultivating relationships!

Related: From Mundane to Magic: The Incredible Benefits of Automation for Small Business Owners

5. Expect the unexpected

Stuff happens - it's just life. That's why it's so important to appreciate the good times but remember that nothing ever stays the same. With life, business, anything. Knowing this helps with the blow when unexpected things do happen in our businesses and lives.

6. Don't forget to dream

I think a lot, not all, but many entrepreneurs are dreamers. We dream of changing the world, helping as many people as possible and having big goals. But, sometimes, we can get lost in the day-to-day grind of running our business (accounting, managing team members, marketing, the list goes on!).

And it's okay to be all in and work hard in our business (especially in the beginning), but figure out what you can delegate, cut out or make more efficient so you still have time to dream.

7. Remember that you are tough

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I want you to remember that you are tougher than you think. Even when it doesn't feel like it. You are braver than most people just based on the fact that you have started your own business. Remember that, and give yourself some credit!

So there you have it, friends. I hope you continue to learn, grow and dream because you never know what lies ahead, so why not go for it today?!

Nicole Bernard

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Marketing Strategist & Founder at nb. marketing

Nicole Bernard's career began with Microsoft over 15 years ago, and since that time, she has owned and operated two successful businesses as well as worked with other major brands including RE/MAX and Venus Williams. She also hosts a popular podcast.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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