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10 Things No One Will Tell You About Starting a Business

10 Things No One Will Tell You About Starting a Business

These days it seems everyone is calling themselves an “entrepreneur.” There’s a lot of talk about leaving your job, following your dreams, making money while you sleep, and living with passion.

Each of those things is fantastic. But, there are a lot of things aspiring-entrepreneurs AREN’T hearing. There are things no one will tell you about starting a business, and I think it’s time somebody tells you.

I didn’t choose entrepreneurship. I didn’t quit a 6-figure job and leave my corner office to do this, and, I didn’t go to business school to learn what to do.

I learned about business on the streets! No, just kidding. I learned about building and managing a business while building and managing a business for Dell. I worked in a cubicle, and when I got fired, I had to learn each of these things the hard way.

Starting a business is an incredible and awesome journey, but there are things no one told me to watch out for. Here are 10 Things No One Will Tell You (Ever) About Starting a Business.

1. You’re good enough to start, but not good enough to win.

You have to be always improving and putting in the work to become better every single day. You shouldn’t wait until you have all of the knowledge before getting started (you always need to be learning), but you’ll need to know more than you know now before you can get where you want to go.

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The skills and talents you have right now will help you get started, but to succeed, you’ll have to get better. You can’t win the championship if you never improve on the skills that got you on the team.

2. You have to make yourself a priority.

If you’re not able to take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. That includes teaching, coaching, training, instructing, and any other activity that requires leading someone else. If you can’t lead yourself, you won’t be able to lead anyone else.

You will also have to prioritize the tasks and activities that will help you reach your goals. When you start a business, you’re both the employee and the employer. Not only do you have to decide what needs to be done, but you will also have to be the one doing it, and that includes making sure the tasks are complete at the end of the day.

As I wrote about here, no one will tell you to move forward. You must be the one to take your foot off the break and make the decision to stomp on the gas.

3. You have to be your own first customer.

If you don’t use your own products or services, why should anybody else? Plus, by using your own products you can test them, evaluate them, and know exactly how to make them better in version 2.0.

So many “experts” don’t take their own medicine. How many web designers do you know who have crappy websites themselves?

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The best chefs are the ones who taste their food before they send it out to the table to be eaten by somebody else. I’m looking at myself here, but coaches don’t do the same things they’re coaching their clients to do. That needs to change if we’re going to be successful in our businesses; we have to use our products if we want other people to use them as well.

4. You have to be your own biggest fan.

If you’re not willing to root for yourself, why would anyone else? In the beginning, we have to be our own biggest fan. We have to be our own support team. We have to be rooting for ourselves and in our own corner fighting the fight.

Sometimes you might be the only one, but that’s what’s required to get started. I often see entrepreneurs who are afraid to be their own promotional team. They are afraid of being called “arrogant” or, a shameless “self-promoter.” I wrote about that here, but before anybody else can, we have to cheer for ourselves.

5. It will take more work than you realize.

No seriously. Becoming successful (not just in business but at sports, life, love, etc.), is going to take more time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears than you can possibly imagine right now.

If you haven’t yet started, you are in the honeymoon phase of your business building efforts. Your mind may wander to working on the beach, sleeping late, traveling the world, etc., but, in reality, that’s not how it works at all. Long days, long nights, long weeks, long weekends, it all goes into building a dream and a life that you are happy with.

I’m not bragging, but yesterday I worked for 13 hours straight. By the end, I was exhausted, but I loved the entire process. My point is that anything worth doing is going to take a lot of effort, and you must be willing to make the investment not only in yourself but in the success of your business as well.

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6. There will be things that you have to give up if you want to win.

Almost every week I talk to someone who wants to start, build, grow or improve their business, but they aren’t willing to make sacrifices and eliminate things from their schedule. I don’t know what that thing on your calendar might be, but I do know there is something you’ll have to cancel or eliminate if you’re going to be able to spend the necessary time to make your dream and business a reality.

Yes, you can and should plan your downtime, and time to spend with family, friends, kids, etc., but you’re going to have to take a hard look at what can be eliminated so you can focus on the things that you need to accomplish. 

7. Your first idea probably won’t be your best idea.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. If you’re planning to start a business, odds are, you think your idea is a pretty good one. I’m not going to tell you it isn’t, in fact, it probably is pretty good. But I will tell you that my first ideas aren’t usually the best ones I have.

Your first idea for a blog post title, for a website design, or for a new product, ya, those usually get replaced by something better. As you get more experience creating and producing, you’ll realize that your ideas will get better as they mature. Be ok with killing your first ideas and allowing yourself to give birth to something even better. Emma @ Lifehack agrees (see #8). 

8. Your product isn’t for everybody, and not everyone is your customer.

In the beginning, I thought everyone would be a good fit for what I had to offer. It wasn’t until I spent the time to determine my ideal client, my “avatar,” that I became comfortable with the idea that I’m not meant to help everyone. “Everyone” is not your target market, but a specific person with a specific problem is.

Instead of trying to convince someone that you’re worth paying attention to, find the people who already know it.

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9. You have to guard your calendar with aggressive intensity.

When you work for someone else, you can float through most days. Let’s be honest, when you’re an employee, you could probably get your work done in about half the time it’s actually taking, right?

No worries, I’m not here to judge. I used to be able to do my job in my sleep. If you’re going to start your own business, you have to take complete ownership over every minute of every day and only allow things on your schedule that will help you achieve your goals. Learn to love the power of “no” and feel good about it.

10. You will have to leave people behind.

You can’t steal second with your foot on first, and sometimes it’s our friends holding down our shoe. Not everyone is meant to take this journey with you, and that’s ok. Your true friends will stick with you, and the rest will fall way. If they don’t, you may have to cut the strings and leave them behind.

Your turn: What have you learned the hard way? What’s a business lesson you’ve learned that you wish someone had told you?

More by this author

Ellory Wells

Business Coach, Startup Consultant

10 Things No One Will Tell You About Starting a Business 10 Things No One Will Tell You About Starting a Business

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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