When I was in my early 20’s I saw entrepreneurship as this glorious career path of pure creation. I would read books and stories about great entrepreneurs and leaders like Andrew Carnegie and Richard Branson and envisioned their lives as lives of action, always moving forward and never retreating.
It wasn’t until I decided to take a leap of faith into my own entrepreneurial journey when I realized this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Especially in the beginning, entrepreneurship is not a path of continuous forward movement. There are many, steps back and sideways that you as the initiator of your business could NEVER have predicted.
However, it DOES get a little “easier” as you build your entrepreneurship muscles. You just need to get a little momentum to bridge the “money gap” and start to see real results.
In this post, I’ll write about the 3 lessons I learned building my own businesses and how you can use them to “get over the hump” and build real momentum in your own endeavors.
Entrepreneur Idea #1 – Choose ONE Path and Stick To It
If someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey came to me and asked about the single most important piece of advice I could give them, it would be this – choose one business model and stick to it like white on rice.
When I started out I didn’t know exactly what type of business I wanted to build, I just knew I wanted to build a business.
In a way, this was good because it allowed me to explore all the different business models out there. When the rubber hit the road though, it was a bad, bad thing.
When I first left my management consulting job for the entrepreurial career path, I decided I would go into real-estate and flip houses. However, after completing two flips and realizing how much up-front capital was required to build a successful business in real-estate, I started looking elsewhere.
The next business model to cross my plate was dropshipping. I had seen an ad on Facebook from one of those “Facebook Guru’s” claiming to have made like $10 Billion in 2 months or something absurd like that, and thought it was a great idea.
After setting up my Shopify store and spending a hefty $5,000 on a dropshipping coach, I was off to the races. 6 months later, I hated my life. I had a business that was doing about $20,000 / mo, but spent the entire day staring at a computer screen.
So I switched tracks. Again. This time doing digital marketing for OTHER people.
Before I knew it, almost 2 years had passed and I had gone through a good 3 or 4 business models, seeing a sliver of success, then switching tracks for one reason or another.
This is not the way to go. Believe me. Choose one track and STICK TO IT!
After I chose to finally stick with digital marketing, I could think long term. My stress level went down, my wages went up, and the world seemed a little brighter.
Entrepreneur Idea #2: Charge Enough To Hire Help Before You Think You Need To
The next lesson I wish I had known going into all of this is to charge enough for your services so that you can hire help before you think you need to.
During the first few businesses, I did absolutely everything myself. I answered calls, built out advertising campaigns, shipped the products, did client delivery, and whatever else needed to be done. I was a true jack of all trades.
Which meant I was constantly pulled in every direction possible. And when you’re focus is splintered like mine was, nothing of substance gets done.
I knew I needed to hire support, I just couldn’t afford it!
And who’s fault was that? Mine. I wasn’t charging enough.
Want to know how I know I wasn’t charging enough? My client told me!
One of my first clients was the owner of a luxury real estate auction company, selling homes at $4M+. During our sales call I offered to do his digital marketing for $750.
Yup, you read that right. $750 on a $4M sale. What the eff was I thinking?!
After about 4 months of both doing ad management for this client and simultaneously trying to get more clients so that I could eat and afford my mortgage, my client decided to cut the cord. Even though his campaigns were performing well, I hadn’t done a campaign review with him in over 2 months, and he had about had it.
During our exit interview, I asked him what he thought was good, and what he thought I should work on. He told me he would have happily paid me “much, much more” for a little more hands on experience.
Had I charged him a reasonable fee of $4,000 per month, I would still have that client today.
The lesson? Charge what you’re worth. Period. It allows you to breathe and invest in your business, ultimately giving your clients a better experience overall.
Entrepreneurs Idea #3: Learn Digital Marketing, Like Hard
The third lesson I wish I knew from the outset was how important digital marketing is.
And I’m not saying this simply because I run a digital marketing firm.
Digital marketing really is incredibly important when it comes to building your brand and following.
You could have the best product in the world, but if no one hears about that product, and if you don’t communicate the benefits of that product in ways that people understand, no one will buy your products or benefit from your service.
And just to prove to you that I’m not subtly pitching my own firms services, I’ll say that for those starting out, content marketing is by far the best way to go.
That’s right, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to engage in digital marketing! Content marketing is simply the process of creating quality content (like this blog post) and distributing it to the public via some sort of social media or content distribution channel.
It can even be as simple as you getting up every morning and talking into your webcam for 10 minutes before you get started on the days work.
However, if you want to move fast, you will need to begin advertising with paid ads.
I actually started out with paid ads, and wish I had started out with content marketing. Paid ads should be left to the professionals or experienced marketers, as it’s very easy to waste money.
If you’re just starting out, simply produce content!
Get Over The Entrepreneurial Hump
Entrepreneurship really is a great career path. It’s fun, exciting, and will force you to grow as a person. Probably more than you want to grow!
However, if you do choose to start your own business, go into it with your eyes wide open.
The journey will seem at times impossible, but you CAN do it. You just need to get a little momentum under your belt.
To get over that first hump, my advice to you is:
- Choose one path and stick to it
- Charge enough to where you can hire people sooner than you’d like
- Learn digital marketing like a goddamn pro
Had someone painted a real picture of how the road of entrepreneurship looked, I… probably would have done it anyways. I was pretty headstrong back then. But at least I would have been more prepared for the setbacks along the way.
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