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What You’ll Learn From Starting Your Own Business

What You’ll Learn From Starting Your Own Business

For many people starting your own business is almost a rite of passage: a wonderful experience, but incredibly daunting. Nevertheless, there is always much you can learn from starting your own business, whether or not it succeeds or fails, which can prepare you for the future and also experiences outside of entrepreneurship. Here are some of the top ones considered to be the most important:

Organization is key

Take your time. Keep notes. Organize your paperwork. This is crucial as a start-up in order to monitor the company’s development and planning for scalability. Keeping updated spreadsheets, preparing templates, and organizing your paperwork is absolutely crucial. It saves up your time of having to find old documents, and makes it much easier to track progress.

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You can’t plan for everything

You’ve got your business plan, you’ve prepared all the finances and documented everything – you’re ready to go. This is one more for those who are quite controlling and have a predisposition to order: you cannot plan for everything. I repeat, you cannot plan for everything. There will be unexpected payments which crop up, or unplanned expenses. Nothing ever goes as you plan for it to, and it is exciting. It’s all part of the start-up culture.

If you have a back-up plan, you’re planning to fail

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Before starting my own company I had read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. This notion was one which came up in the book, and intrigued me quite deeply. Many people say that it is important to bootstrap, and have an exit strategy just in case things do not go to plan. But if we think about this idea in more depth, by preparing an exit strategy you are already lacking faith in your idea. If you do not believe in yourself or the idea, perhaps you should reconsider whether or not the start-up is even a good idea. More often than not, it is the people who push through the mud, and have entire faith that their product or service can deliver and is necessary tend to be the companies which succeed. Do not forget, Pemberton only sold $50 worth of Coca Cola in his first trading year but he believed in the product enough to keep going.

Taking that step

Deciding to start your own business is a very daunting process. Accepting that you are likely to be living off canned food in candlelight for a few months (a bit of an exaggeration) can be very difficult to realize, and many people will quit halfway through because they find the whole process too demanding. However, if you manage to follow through, not only is it exciting from the business point of view, but can be seen as a personal achievement. I often liken this to the scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where he takes the step into the unknown, relying purely on faith, and reaps the rewards. This links back very much to the former point, in that having faith in not only your product, but yourself, is crucial. Many people tend to discover more about themselves when struggling through the initial stages of a start-up.

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Objectification & Separation

As much as you may adore your business, the product, and your team, it is important that you remain somewhat objective and separate your personal life from the business. Otherwise, big decisions become difficult, such as whether or not to keep a member of the team on, whether or not to discontinue a certain line, or even whether or not the profitability of the company is there. An easy way, as a beginner, I found was to make monthly or bi-annual targets. It gave me clear sight of whether or not we were really doing well.

Criticism vs. Cynicism

There will always be people telling you that:

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  • “You won’t last five months.”
  • “It’s a stupid idea, no one will buy it.”
  • “You can’t do that.”

This is pure cynicism. Utter disbelief, or sometimes jealousy, in what you are doing. Pay no attention to this – these are people that will try and break you, when you are simply choosing a more adventurous path in life. However, pay attention to criticism, especially when it is constructive. If someone tells you that perhaps a different color will be more appealing, or lowering the price might be a good idea, then take these into consideration. Filter out the useless cynicism, and engage in constructive criticism.

Featured photo credit: Ninjamarketing.it via cdn.ninjamarketing.it

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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