Today’s episode is pretty special because it was 12 years ago that I filed the articles of organization with the state of Florida and made my business official by making it an LLC (a limited liability company).
I did that all the way back in April 2009. Fast forward to April 2021, a whole 12 years have passed since I started on this journey to entrepreneurship. It has been a wild ride. There are definitely highs and lows.
Of course, I wanted to share this occasion with you. I figured the best way to celebrate this milestone in my business would be to share the lessons that I have learned along the way.
I thought long and hard about what I would share with you if you were just getting started or if you’ve been on the journey but not as long as I have been, and I came up with 12 lessons. These are the things that I would tell you if we sat down for tea and had a conversation.
I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and settle down as I share the most important lessons I’ve learned after 12 years of entrepreneurship.
Lesson #1: Start with what you have.
This is really the premise behind pimp your brilliance. The idea of leveraging what you already have.
Most times people approach problems from the perspective of what they don’t have. If you approach your problems with a focus and emphasis on what you don’t have, it’s really difficult to find a solution. It’s hard to see the possibility.
When you reframe that and shift your perspective, your mind starts to see what is really available to you. You realize that you have something that you can use as leverage towards your solution.
Lesson#2: The work you do as a beginner work is never going to be your best work but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.
Everyone starts as a beginner with something. No one starts out creating amazing work on day one. The work that you create as a beginner is good enough. It’s a start. You’ll improve and create something better.
I look back on the work I did 5 years ago and cringe. Some of it is ugly. I look back on work that I created 6 months ago and I can see my growth. I’ve evolved. I’ve practiced. I’ve learned.
You’re going to create something better, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing the work now. You still need the practice. You need to show people what you can do, because there are going to be people who buy that ugly work. They’re not going to think it’s ugly. They’re going to invest in it. You have to get comfortable with that and know that you will improve.
Don’t beat yourself up for being a beginner. Your work is good enough for the season that you’re in.
Lesson #3: Forget trying to be an expert, focus on being a resource.
There are so many people who have really great information and things that they can share, but they are so caught up on this idea of needing to be an expert. Experts are not the only people with experiences, skills or insight. You don’t have to be an expert to share what has worked for you.
I know this is a really big hangup for some people. So you need to reframe it and stop focusing on trying to be an expert. You can be a resource. As a resource, you’re sharing your knowledge. You are standing in that gap and helping translate the experts’ information into something that is digestible for the everyday person to understand. And doesn’t that feel so much better?
Lesson #4: Beware of sunk cost fallacy. Change your mind or pivot when you need to.
Sunk cost fallacy is when someone continues a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources. Sunk cost fallacy is real. Don’t let it keep you stuck. If you notice something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it.
Lesson #5: Dedicate twice as much time to promoting your work as you do creating the work.
Adopt a 2 for 1 promotion strategy. Dedicate twice as much time to promoting your work as you do creating this. You’ll have much better results as a result of making this a practice in your business.
Lesson #6: Find what works for you and do that.
You know how you work best. Don’t override what works for you to follow the advice you see online. You’ll slow down your own progress and waste time. Do what you know works for you even if it’s unconventional or goes against best practices. The best practice may not be the best practice for you.
Lesson#7: Kindness is the rule, not the exception.
The online entrepreneur circles are small (even more so if you’re a part of a marginalized group). Be kind to people. Don’t be an asshole. It’s hard enough being an entrepreneur, don’t contribute to the ugliness. No one enjoys working with or referring jerks.
Lesson #8: Define what success means to you and hold on to that.
Without a clear definition of what success looks, feels, and means to you, you’ll always be searching for it. Nothing that you do will make you feel like you’re successful enough, because you haven’t determined how to measure it for yourself.
You won’t know what it looks like for you. You won’t know what it feels like for you. You haven’t attached any meaning to it. It makes a difference in the way that you show up online, how you feel about your business, and your confidence when you have decided what success looks like to you.
Lesson #9: Find your tribe.
Explore places and spaces that have like-minded people that you can connect with. You need support at all stages of business building. You need friends, mentors, clients, and cheerleaders. Find those people and build relationships with them.
Lesson #10: Set boundaries so that your work doesn’t take over your life.
It is easy to let the work take over your life. You can work sun up until sun down and there will still be more work to come back to. Trust me.
You didn’t start your business to have another job eating up all of your time. Set boundaries around your work and be firm with yourself to follow them.
Lesson #11: Don’t be afraid to find the proper support systems.
If you notice things in your business or life seem to be off, investigate that. Don’t just put it off. You are your most important asset. You want to be operating to the best of your abilities most of the time and the best way to ensure that you do is to have proper support in place. That means different things to different people but don’t be afraid to search for what you need.
Lesson #12: Don’t let fear have all the fun.
Fear is a dream killer. It will suck the joy out of every experience if you let it. You are only going to go as far as you dare to go. Be bold.
The only thing holding you back is what you currently believe you are capable of achieving. Continually seek to push your own limits. Challenge every limiting belief or negative story that you’re carrying around with you. Get rid of the stories that don’t belong to you.
The journey isn’t easy every day but if you’re having fun more often than not, you’re on the right path. Don’t let fear stop you from doing the things you feel called to do.
These are the 12 most impactful lessons that I’ve learned so far on my entrepreneur journey. Did any lessons stick out to you? What lessons have you learned on your own journey?