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10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

If, like me, you have been an employee your whole life, and your immediate family have all been employees, jumping off of the employee treadmill and starting a small business is going to turn your mind inside-out in some pretty profound ways.

In fact, you might spend the first year or so of your new career spinning your wheels with a deer-in-the-headlights look, and therefore not getting a whole heck of a lot done. That’s okay; it’s why God created unemployment benefits and temp jobs. And don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are some of the things that have melted my mind:

1. When you start your own business, you’ll never, ever have to go job hunting again. Ever.

Sure, there may be times when you’re tight on cash and have to work at a café or take on some freelance projects for a little while just so you can eat, but this is totally different from thinking of a job as being a long-term “career”. You know that this job a tactical move to tie you over until your REAL career – your business – picks up again.

(Of course, you probably won’t want to tell that to your temporary boss.)

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2. When you start your own business, you’ll never waste your time and energy making someone else rich again.

You’re working for one person: YOU. And you’re working to make YOU rich. Not Wal-Mart, not the neighborhood repair shop – YOU. Nobody else.

(Okay, maybe the “rich” part hasn’t happened yet, but the potential is there.)

3. When you start your own business, you’ll never have to put up with awful bosses or office politics again.

You may one day BE a crappy boss; and if you are, your business will suffer, so you’ll either learn to stop scaring off your staff or go belly-up. But you can control you. You can’t control your boss or your coworkers.

4. When you start your own business, you’re going to work harder than you ever have in your life … and you’ll love every minute of it.

Why? Because you’re figuring out how to make yourself rich. It’s hard to have that kind of motivation when you’re working for someone else.

5. When you start your own business, other business owners and CEOs become your peers, not your employers.

When you call up technical support, you’ll realize that the CEO of the company who made the product you’re using isn’t just some faceless goon who might show up in the media now and then if they’re famous enough. No, they’re ordinary, flesh-and-blood people, just like you … who started out small, just like you. In fact, if it’s a small company you’re dealing with – say, an iPhone app developer – when you make that technical support call, you might even end up talking to the CEO herself.

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Suddenly, the playing field just got even.

6. When you start your own business, you, and you alone, are responsible for your income.

This means that you’re going to become obsessed with two things: marketing yourself, and keeping your customers happy. No marketing or doing a lousy job means no customers, which means that you don’t eat. You get direct feedback from your efforts.

It’s your butt on the line. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

7. When you start your own business, you’ll find out who your real friends are.

As much as your friends and family may love you, and as much as you may love them back, the ones who are employees are simply not going to “get” what you’re doing. Their butts aren’t on the line like yours is. So while they may offer lip service to supporting you, you can’t rely on them to help you out in meaningful ways.  It’s not their fault; they mean well, but ya gotta actually walk in someone else’s shoes to really understand them.

(Don’t be surprised if you start hanging out with other business owners more than you do your old friends.)

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8. When you start your own business, you’ll realize that you have the potential to be paid what YOU’RE worth, not what the job is worth.

Even if the money part doesn’t happen overnight, it’s hard to describe the feeling when you realize that your income isn’t, by default, limited by the arbitrary amount set by the company you work for.

That “glass ceiling” everybody’s always talking about? Gone!

9. When you start your own business, you’ll learn how to manage your money really, really well.

Forget buying $300 sunglasses or blinging out your pickup with fancy chrome wheels. Since you’re not always going to be able to count on a set amount of money coming in each month, you’re going to think twice before spending your hard-earned cash on anything you don’t need.

At first, expect 99% of your income to go toward paying bills, buying food, or covering business expenses. Anything left over, you’ll probably want to sock away for the next lean month.

10. When you start your own business, you’ll feel freer, smarter, more independent, more resourceful, more in control, and more powerful than you have ever felt in your life.

Economies and governments may collapse, financial systems may fail, but if you’re working for yourself, you know you’ll survive.

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Why?

Because nothing can ever take away your mind, your talents, or your skills, and there will always be someone who wants them.

Your turn: How has starting your own business changed YOUR thinking?

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs painted portrait / Thierry Ehrmann via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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