A Few Takeaways From my First Year as an Entrepreneur....
Here we are: it's been just over a year of entrepreneurial life for me! Through a whole lot of up's and a few down's, the ride has been fantastic. I've learned so much -- including that choosing this kind of life is not for the feint of heart! My whole life, I've been surrounded by entrepreneurs: my wonderful parents built their firm from near scratch over 30 years, and my amazing wife Crystal has excelled in her photography business for over 10; yet, I still wasn't ready for life as an entrepreneur until I was actually living it. A 'how-to' for new entrepreneurs isn't entirely practical, as the process differs from person-to-person, and industry-to-industry; there are a few things I've learned, though, that I'd like to share with you.
If Procrastination is Your Enemy Now, Look Out!
I've always had a tendency to procrastinate; largely in school, but in life as well. By the end of my last year in university, I was writing 10-page papers the morning they were due; I didn't have my first kiss until I was 17; and I still don't know how Snapchat works... Let's just say I was comfortable with not being uncomfortable (at least until that paper was due!).
As an entrepreneur, procrastination is your worst enemy. You've got no boss proverbially breathing down your neck, and no buffer to lay blame at the feet of when you don't get your work done. You've got to learn to manage your time effectively, and motivate yourself to work; if you're the kind of personality that has to be told what to do and when to do it (even if you perform really well in this way), you'll definitely have trouble as an entrepreneur.
Setting a solid schedule for yourself is key. Whether you plan specific days to tackle social media posts, allocate the first two hours of each day for email replying, or plan your work hours around your peak performance time, a well-thought-out schedule will set you up to succeed. Naturally, you have to stick to it, too -- and that's where procrastination kicks you in the butt all over again. Like any other 'bad' habit, though, it can be conquered; we've chatted about habits before, and the process of setting a mindset for yourself can be achieved in the same way. Of course, the easiest option comes courtesy of Tony Robbins: just put off procrastinating until the last possible moment!
You're Always On
Often, those in "traditional" employment look at entrepreneurs, and lament jealously at their freedom (more on this next). The counter to that, as an entrepreneur, is the fact that you're always on, no matter where you go. This means that whilst the "traditional" employee works a typical 9-5 shift -- with the ability to drop everything before and after those times -- an entrepreneur has no time when they aren't actively working. Sure, we can go on vacation and take time away from what we do; the difference is that every day we're away from our work is a day we aren't earning a living. It also means that, even during those times of vacation, we're likely answering emails, making social media posts, and staying in contact with our clients to keep the momentum of our careers going.
To some, this may seem overly intrusive or exhausting. I love it. Heck, I'm writing this blog post right now on vacation! I absolutely love what I do, and relish interacting with all of you any time I can. Many fellow entrepreneurs feel the same way, and often it's a reason why someone will choose to forge their own path rather than have the separation so many "traditional" careers possess. Naturally, I monitor the time I allow myself to be "on", as a willingness to answer email or talk on the phone at any given point can become intrusive; it's about setting healthy boundaries, and respecting yourself and your life as much as you do your clients'.
There's a Whole Lot of Freedom
I touched on it previously, and have to mention the wonderful freedom being an entrepreneur. The ability to set your own schedule; to decide with whom you will or will not work with; to have the power to create as much or as little success as you want. The freedom of entrepreneurial life is so awesome in its scope, that it can actually be intimidating. And allows for bad habits, such as the previously mentioned procrastination, to create anxiety for you. I'm definitely free in all the ways I've mentioned, but create the kind of structure I need and desire to make myself successful. The freedom, then, is deciding upon the structure within which you will work, instead of having it imposed upon you by someone else. And again, I love it!
There's No Better Feeling of Accomplishment
We, as humans, crave the ability to create. Heck, that's how more of us come about: we have children, and mold them in the best way we can before they take over. I've never felt more accomplished in my working life than over the past year. I made a fraction of the money I made in the previous, but my confidence, sense of satisfaction, and ability to contribution have grown almost immeasurably. I'm building something that I am 100% responsible for, and creating the life I always wanted in the process. To have the kind of impact on others' lives that I do now is not something I would trade anything for, and I know that I could not have achieved this heading down the path I was before. Entrepreneurship is entirely based on your ability to create; it's one of the greatest uncertainties in life, but one that I am absolutely certain is for me.
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