In this uncertain employment landscape, I was recently asked for my thoughts on what it’s like to start, sustain, and grow a full-time business. First off, I am very passionate about entrepreneurship. It affords me the freedom to set my own schedule. It also allows me to serve clients in amazing ways without restrictions and bureaucracy (plus there’s no limit on my earning potential).
My current business is now almost 14 years old, and it is one of the best decisions I’ve EVER made.
So for anyone who has recently started a full-time business or thinking of starting one, Here are a few of my “lessons learned”. I trust that they will provide clarity for whoever needs it.
#1. Be able to clearly answer this question…”How will anyone’s life be any better because your business exists?”
No one will ever care about your business, services, products or ideas more than you. So be able to clearly explain the value of what you are offering in terms of how it will help your customers (and potential customers) solve THEIR problems. It’s never about WHAT you want to sell; it’s always about what problem the other person needs to solve. Before you focus on money, put all of your focus on how you can add value.
Takeaway: Give value first.
#2. Do not allow your mood to control your work ethic; instead force your work ethic to control your mood.
You will work VERY hard. Period. However, there will be days when you won’t feel like working. After all, you’re the boss and can work whenever you want…right?! Wrong.
Despite your mood of the day, you have to push forward until your mood changes and your goal becomes crystal clear again.
Over the years, I have found that many people are more in love with the idea of entrepreneurship vs. the daily grind of it.
Think about a major success in your life. Something that you had to work incredibly hard to achieve. You sacrificed for it. You lay awake every night pondering ways to accomplish it.
You can look back and testify that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve that goal without an unusually large amount of persistence (aka stubbornness).
Takeaway: THAT is the amount of effort, discipline and sacrifice required to start and succeed with a new business.
#3. Give yourself two choices: Succeed or Succeed.
14 years ago, I left my cushy, corporate job to start this business. I have to be honest though…the departure was not planned, and I found myself in a rather desperate situation. Very little savings…just bought our 1st home… still completing my doctorate…and now no job.
I could either try to find another job asap OR start that speaking/consulting business I had been dreaming about. So I decided to take the jump and bet on myself. BW Enterprise was launched the following week after my corp job departure in Sept 2006. Fortunately, I have an amazing wife, who believes in me and is incredibly supportive (big ups to Lisa Leslie-Williams, B.S., PharmD.)
Now, here’s the kicker…I had to start earning the same income ON MY OWN the very next month. And I did!
I gave myself no other option but to succeed. My mind was 100% set to believe that THIS WILL WORK PERIOD. In fact, it’s already working (even with no clients yet). There’s power in prophesying over yourself!
This business IS a success! I said that out loud until I felt it in my bones.
Takeaway: Train yourself to believe that your ability to buy groceries and pay bills THIS month is 100% based on the success of your business.
#4. Don’t depend on only one source of revenue.
It’s never to early to start thinking about ways to diversify your revenue stream. You will be shocked at how quickly your primary stream can dry up! In my case, there are keynotes/workshops, consulting projects, online store, conferences, e-learning library, and a monthly subscription service for custom videos.
⭐Client Base: When I started this business, I was 100% confident that all of my clients would be luxury hotels, restaurants and spas. After all, that was my industry background. I turned out to be COMPLETELY wrong.
Over 60% have always been in healthcare (hospitals, nursing homes, etc). The remaining client base has been a mix of everything from luxury hotels to gov’t agencies to nat’l associations to credit unions.
⭐Geography: Our clients are on every continent (except Antarctica). However, because of “Ms. Rona” (COVID), almost all of my clients have switched to using my services for virtual conferences and webinars.
Takeaway: Take control of your livelihood and refuse to undervalue yourself ever again.
I wrote all of that to let you know that this can be a new, glorious and liberating beginning. This season may be the “sign” you’ve been waiting for. So don’t be stagnant and wait for opportunities to come your way. Instead, stabilize, pivot and launch into something new!