Want to be a Successful Entrepreneur? Here are my BEST Lessons Learned After 23 Years in Business
Being an entrepreneur is extremely rewarding. Unfortunately, there are other aspects of it that are very challenging. When you’re the boss, it is often difficult to have leverage or camaraderie with people that work for you.
You have to maintain a level of authority. Most of the time, entrepreneurs, surround themselves with other entrepreneurs because they understand each other best.
Working for yourself is and is not what people think. You do not sit around idly twiddling your thumbs waiting for money to pour in all day long with no effort… it’s work and nonstop work. While other people punch the clock at 5 o’clock, entrepreneurs continue to work throughout the day and night.
At times, some of the best ideas come to entrepreneurs in the middle of the night. We don’t always feel like motivating ourselves but is it is essential to our success. After 23 years, here are some tips I can share with you on lessons that I have learned the hard way. You’re welcome…
Create Win/Win/WIN Situations…
First and foremost, you have to be absolutely sure that you have a winning product. It’s hard to believe in or convince others to believe in crap. They can plainly see the value of what you do. Your customers are interested in your product. Always think three “WINS;”
- How is this going to benefit my business,
- How is this going to benefit the client and
- How is it going to benefit the target?
The “target” can be anything from a specific target to potential new clients who see what you produce. Therefore, WHAT you produce must be stellar so that others are attracted to it. If you’re just taking money, living off tenure or you’re not delivering service you probably won’t see the client again and no matter what kind of business you are in.
Repeat business, without suggestion or solicitation, is the key. There has to be a balance in order to create and sustain a valuable and longstanding relationship. Don’t be greedy and think you can get the money this time, deliver crappy service then expect the client to return. Not only will they not return he will tell others how they were treated.
Stop Hiring People Who Only Want a Check!
What do I mean by that? I’m basically saying that sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we ask our contacts if they know someone who can do so and so and we really need the job done but don’t have the time to look for potential candidates. Don’t make this mistake.
I have found, that at least 80% of the time in situations like these, the people don’t work out. Mostly, because they don’t “WANT” a job, they NEED a check only. Therefore they are only going to give you enough effort to make the money then they are gone. Unfortunately, when they don’t work out and you have wasted your time training them, YOU become the bad guy if you complain and it could affect your relationship with the original person you asked for help from.
Chances are, they are trying to help a friend or relative that needs a job. There is a HUGE difference between needing a job and wanting an opportunity. You do not have time to train people who are not interested in the work. It will show in the results. This does not work for you or your business you’re not a temp service looking for day laborers. You have to look at your business and what it needs, that’s the primary first. You need someone that WANTS a job, not someone who is going to do just enough to get by and then hit the road.
Anything less just won’t do. Wasting time is not a good idea for your business. You want to make sure that you bring someone and who’s hungry and wants the job. Some people say that there are no hungry people anymore but there are you just have to dig deeper and find them and even if they’re not hungry at least make sure they’re strategic and they know what they’re doing and they’re effective because you can still get the same benefit don’t always be obligated to hire people because they need a job to hire them for WHY you NEED them. Use services like Fiverr.com to test people out for tasks that are temporary or that can be done from anywhere. Make sure you look at their ratings. I’ve had much better luck using Fiverr than Upwork.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want…
When it comes to your business, you have to take care of it and protect it. Do not be afraid to approach people for what you want when it comes to your business. If you need help, this is the most important thing, don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to admit it, but make sure you learn at least a little bit of it so that you can keep an eye on all aspects of your business. When hiring someone to do an independent job, check their credentials and have them send you some of that work and take the time to dig a little deeper. Look at their social networks to get an idea of their character.
I would not recommend hiring a third-party with someone in the middle who is speaking for the other person. This indicates that the person you’re talking to is taking the largest chunk of the money and only giving a small portion to the third-party. That’s a waste of your resources. Hire direct. If you never have contact with the third-party that you don’t know how effective they are. I’ve made this mistake a few times to many but not anymore.
Why is it so hard to find good people…
That’s a very good question? And there is some truth to it. But we must first realize that nobody is going to have the passion and the drive that we have for our business to succeed.
I would strongly suggest that you have a layout for whatever project you have for the person indicating exactly what you expect for them to do and I have them sign it. It could be the 10 steps you want them to take or it could be just a general synopsis of what you expect. Otherwise, they don’t have a guide and you may be disappointed at the final results.
On occasion, you will come across someone who does a great job and who is dedicated to doing exactly what you want them to do. Make sure that you keep these people in your database to call when you need certain things, there is a good chance that they can do even more tasks than you asked them for the first time. You must establish a solid team and sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to get there.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor
As entrepreneurs, especially black entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to work ourselves to death early on or until we die. Radio One owner Cathy Hughes pointed out to me during a recent interview when we leave our businesses to our children, by the time we leave it, they usually don’t want it.
We have literally worked ourselves to death and not traveled the world or taken the time off that we should have taken just to have the business die with us. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen black owners work themselves to death by not taking care of themselves in the process. I must admit, running a business is addictive and at times it’s very difficult to walk away but you MUST find a way to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Don’t be in a position where you are not taking vacations, not have to sustain relationships, but just work, work, work. You’re an entrepreneur because you want the freedom to do what you want to do. It would seem, that would include taking a vacation and having a free time to do the things that you love to do but others can’t do because they’re obligated to go to work each day.
I know someone, who works on a blog who puts in 16 hour days, he’s older, he never leaves home except to go to an event here and there that is related to his blog and he is very unhappy. He has not had a vacation in years, he’s not making a lot of money because he doesn’t focus on sales and his target is oversaturated so he has to work harder to keep up.
I understand that fear that you think that if you leave, something will happen and you won’t be on top of it, but that’s the beauty of technology, Especially with a blog, you can actually post from anywhere in the world with your iPhone. Life is too short not to enjoy being an entrepreneur and reaping the benefits.
Take care of yourself, have a “ME” day.
The beauty of management or is that you have the free time to do things that other people can’t do at the same time. Going to the grocery store during the day is wonderful because there are no lines. Driving around with no traffic is great. Going to a restaurant when it’s empty with a friend or a client.
Take at least one day out of the week to enjoy the fruits of your labor again, go catch the latest movie or matinée it’s cheaper and it’s empty, go to the restaurant you want to go to, take a trip to the museum to see the exhibits you want to see, go and lay out on the beach but you have to leave your phone and enjoy yourself after a while this will become a habit. I
know someone who is desperately looking for love but he’s always working. The irony of it is that everything that he wants in a relationship comes his way but while he’s working, but he’s so motivated to make money that he pushes it away and then wonders why it’s not around when he slows down. The universe is attracted to what’s moving not what is standing still. If life was a race, people cheer on the person running for the finish line, they don’t cheer on the people on the sidelines, Decide what your position is and “run” with it.
Grow your business…
Things will not be as they are right now. People change jobs and clients change their minds and companies downsize or eliminate budgets. Why should you settle for having two or three clients when you have 30 for more sustainability. That doesn’t mean That you have to continue to do what you’re doing, especially when there’s limited growth potential. You must create the additional ancillary product to grow your business and brand.
Can you do an event? A conference, a magazine, a blog for your clients or customers?
You have to decide but don’t stand still while the getting is good because it won’t always be that way, trust me, and you want to have as many repeat client as possible. Do your best, to create multiple streams of income, Even if it’s from your original idea that you can grow or multiple ideas that can work themselves. The ideal income is the one that comes in while you sleep.
There is no greater feeling than getting up in the morning and seeing that people around the world have paid for your services and you were not even there.
Eliminate People who Drain your Mental Resources
You can’t be friends with everyone, you don’t owe anyone anything and when people make you feel like shit, flush them down the toilet. it’s that simple and it’s a great mental concept. You know who they are because you feel drained when you finish talking to them and they demand too much of your dedication, attention, and energy.
Keep your life as simple as possible and surround yourself with like-minded easy going people. Find other activities to cope with boredom instead of picking up the phone and calling people who drain you. This is not only “friends” it could also be family. Everyone is not going to be happy for you when you are successful.