After all, my father was one, my brothers run a successful business and I married an entrepreneur.
From my perspective, they worked long hours, talked about business all the time and always seemed to be thinking of taking things “to the next level.”
I didn’t understand that those long hours didn’t seem long enough when it’s spent pursuing your passion. That you cannot help sharing your enthusiasm about what you love and how you are going to change the world to anyone who has a minute to spare. And that having your own business opens up a whole new world of creativity and perseverance that you previously didn’t know existed about yourself.
I didn’t know any of this until I became an entrepreneur myself.
In a new country, with no local experience and no contacts, I began consulting until I could get a secure job. What was simply a bridge to the next “sure thing” turned into a never-ending road with an unknown destination.
In 13 years, I’ve gone down the bumpy road of entrepreneurship traveled by many before me, and learned a few good lessons along the way. I hope these lessons make your road to adventure a whole lot smoother:
1. Embrace That You’ll Never Know Everything
It took you years to be THE expert in your field. You struggled to finally make THE product that everyone’s talking about. However, if, after all those years of hard work, you think you know it all and stop learning, or stop innovating on product development, your business will either fail or eventually get left behind.
Curiosity and perseverance are some of the most important traits for an entrepreneur to embrace – why do things work and how can it be better? What would happen if I did the opposite of what is the logical thing to do? Who knows more than I do and whom did they learn from? Do I really know what my customer wants?
Assume there is more than one “right” answer and ask the difficult questions no one is asking. You might be surprised at the answers you’ll get.
2. Work Hard And Give Yourself The Gift of Time
One of the most frustrating traits of an entrepreneur is our impatience. We spend weeks, months, even years creating something we love and when it’s ready, we’re caught by surprise at how slow it sells: How come my potential client can’t see how brilliant our product or solution is and how perfect it is for them? How can they not want it right NOW?
In a market with ever-increasing noise, it really does take time for you to stand out and build a momentum with your marketing. “Overnight successes” can often take 18 – 24 months or more. If you truly believe in your offering, keep working hard but give yourself the gift of time and know that you may need to take the marathon approach versus trying to sprint to success. Remember that childhood story? The turtle eventually beats the hare!
3. Be Willing To Succeed As A Result of Your Work
You should definitely be willing to fail as an entrepreneur, but sometimes what can hold us back is the willingness to succeed. It seems counter-intuitive but many of us have a fear of success in some way. We may believe: I’ve worked so hard but don’t deserve the good things and recognition that come my way. What if I can’t sustain my success? What if I take on something way over my capabilities?
Remember that many of your fears will be irrational if you look at them closely. Success is your reward for setting your sights on a seemingly impossible goal, pursuing it doggedly and sometimes making incredible sacrifices to get there. YES, you are worth it, and yes, you deserve all the recognition and success that comes your way.
4. Keep Working Towards The Next Step
Having your own business can provide amazing freedom and flexibility in creating a lifestyle you want. There are times though, where it takes great effort to get out of bed and hang onto your determination to keep going. You may be stuck on what you need to do next in order to reach your goal.
During these times, I remember an analogy a business coach shared with me: When trying to reach a mountain’s summit (your goal) you know the general direction is up. Even in the worst weather, when you cannot see the summit and don’t know how you are going to get there, you can at least see the next step.
In building your business, just keep taking the next step, work hard, and trust that you know what you need to succeed. You may go down the wrong path here and there, but you won’t know until you take that step…and sometimes the step you need to take may be asking for help from a guide who’s been to the summit and back!
Disclosure: I received compensation from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. This post was sponsored by Visa Small Business as part of their #gobiz Sweepstakes for @VisaSmallBusiness. Visa will be rewarding small business owners with $10,000 in prizes for their hard work from October 25th through November 17th. Visit here http://hosting.thetenthwave.com/visasb/ for more details, and follow @VisaSmallBiz for ways to help make your small business more efficient and successful. Discover more at http://visa.com/business.
Photo Credit: The Femme Files
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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