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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?

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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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