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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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