It is this time of year again when I am more or less forced to think over and over again about the past months, the achievements and misfortunes, the chances taken and those missed. I thought about the lessons I learned and the existential meaning of all that I faced. And something struck me!
What I involuntarily focused on were the daily struggles and small wins. The very nitty-gritty practical details that made a difference to my life. A difference I could feel and touch. A non-existential view of what mattered emerged. I developed a sudden appreciation for the importance of everyday components. It struck me to see how significant lessons on achieving personal satisfaction and freedom I compared to the sum of my commute to work and the logistics of client interaction.
I realized that everything matters – both the big massive realizations on life as well as the little things I did each day… and it took me time to learn them! It took unnecessary effort and struggles.
Here is why I am now sharing those practical things that made a huge difference to my independent/ entrepreneurial journey. This is the ‘must kit’ that I probably read myself somewhere and never really paid attention until I had to face. Decide to take this ‘common sense’ principles at heart and apply them right now, because I guarantee you will save yourself time. Time that you can spend on better things or new challenges.
Enjoy the top 15 and have a laugh at my expense!
1. Beat loneliness - Schedule meetings daily and meet people.
One of the hardest things is being alone most of the time (unless you work in a team). Prepare for that in advance and manage your own expectations. Go to social gatherings, don’t isolate yourself. Make sure you find like-minded people i.e. other entrepreneurs that you can discuss your thoughts with. It can be painful to only stick to friends who cannot relate at all to what you are dealing with.
2. Do not underestimate logistics even when it comes to what shoes you wear.
Logistical details matter more than you can imagine and they can be the thing that makes or breaks a deal.
You may find this funny, but I swear it isn’t. When you work for yourself you will need to go out of the office environment and meet people in different parts of the city often. Looking presentable for whatever the occasion is a must. I underestimated details such as having comfortable shoes that look good but also allow you to run to a meeting. Heels and painful agony during a meeting is not ok.
3. Always be dressed professionally and ready to meet a client on short notice. Even if your day seemed like it will only involve working on your website/ delivering a specific piece and you have decided to spend it in the local library to focus on this – you have to be ready for immediate requests. You do not want to request re-scheduling of meetings because you had a bad hair day or you had to run home to change. This is time and energy wasted.
4. Get yourself a printer at the very beginning - it matters! You will always need a contract, a document or a ticket printed. Don’t over-complicate your life by not having a printer. Get a good quality one, may be consider having capability to scan documents too, although with moderns apps it may not be too critical.
5. Formalize your engagements with contracts – at all times! I understand that when you are new to the whole thing it is tempting to work pro-bono, to have a ‘personalized touch’ and flexible arrangements. You can still do that but put it in a contract! Have your clients engaged and serious about the service or product you provide. Have your potential partners serious about working with/ for you. Treat your work with the respect it deserves. Save your contracts in one place and have signatures, addresses and names in place.
6. Apply “immediate follow up” rule. When a client contacts you and/or you’ve had a meeting always follow up as soon as you can with whatever you’ve agreed on. Send them a re-cap, the contract, a ‘thank you for your time’ note. We have a specific attention span and if you follow up days after the conversation, chances are the client will have already moved on mentally.
7. Cure the feeling of being overwhelmed with taking action.
It is very difficult at times to know where to start from. As an entrepreneur you are asked to do it all and there is so much of it. From advertising to actually delivering your service/ product, from managing stakeholders and clients to managing your own work-life balance… It is difficult and feeling overwhelmed can paralyze and de-motivate you. Chose any one thing that you have on your to do list and just FOCUS on doing that. Forget everything else and do this one thing. Narrow down your attention. This is the solution.
8. Invest in your business. When it comes to growth there is no other way around it – you will need to invest in advertising and other things that increase your presence and make yourself known. It is NOT a matter of pride or product quality. For as little as £1/day in social media ads you can grow your audience. Have the belief that it is worth it. Don’t assume that if you are good enough it will be picked up immediately. This may happen but most likely it won’t.
9. Don’t lose faith if you don’t see the results you were hoping for immediately. There are many things that you may need to think about that initially weren’t a part of your planning process. This is completely normal. Time will go into things such as choosing the right insurance or printer, arranging taxes, etc. This time ‘wasted’ wasn’t necessarily part of your planning to the right extend. Don’t worry and keep working towards your goals.
10. Aim for stretch goals and objectives. Instead of starting with a completely humble approach to your expectations and aspirations – stretch yourself a little. It is absolutely realistic to have 3000 likes in the first month of your business or to gain your first 50 clients in 15 days. It may sound scary, yes, take a leap of faith and jump on the pedal. It is worth it. Slow growth truly kills momentum, motivation and enthusiasm. Seeing positive results doubles it at least.
11. Find the right place to work from. For most people working from home has not worked too well. Research local libraries, shared working spaces/ office and commit to going to work each morning. Having a meeting room available and seeing other individuals working is useful and stimulating.
12. Exercise daily. Physical well-being is linked to mental well-being and having the right state of mind is imperative to your success and sanity. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym hard each day but it does mean that you need to find what works for you and go with it. Yoga, Pilates, Running, Climbing, YouTube videos or apps – there is no lack of options.
13. Manage your calendar in a way that ensures you have slots NOT available to clients. This comes back to the natural inclination to be flexible. I understand that as an entrepreneur you don’t want to lose a single client and you want to excel in customer service. However, you also need to have a life outside of all this and I can assure you it will be tough to maintain it. Block times in your calendar in which you will refuse to work. Try sticking to it.
14. Be savvy by knowing how long it will take before you make it a profitable endeavor. A lot of people are misled by success stories that portray other entrepreneurs who have achieved great success in 6 months or a year. There is an entire industry that focuses “helping you become rich NOW”. Videos of young, rich people, shooting in the “backyard of their homes” where you can see a swimming pool and a hot girl are all over. Remember reality. You need to dig deep into your field, become a professional and take steps ahead. It does required time and this is normal!
15. Never miss a day – do something for your business. Any one little thing done for your business counts towards the overall feeling of satisfaction, growth and success. Do any one thing, even in the days when others are having their weekend rest, to build your personal motivational muscle and cultivate momentum.
Wishing you a wonderful goal setting for the upcoming 2017! I hope the above will help you get to where you really want to be quicker. xxx