Do you ever look back on childhood and wish you’d listened a little more to the advice you got from parents, loved ones or teachers? It’s easy to pick out the hard-learned lessons in retrospect – but as human beings there’s often no telling us at the time.
With that in mind, we’ve got good news and bad news:
The bad news is that there’s plenty of tough lessons still to learn – especially if you’re an entrepreneur launching a startup.
The good news? We’ve put together 10 tips that maximise your chances of getting it right at your first attempt.
#1 – Choose your attitude
Whether your a high flying tech startup or a small manufacturer of toilet posture stools such as the Squat Easy, you have to realise that you’ve got to want what you’re aiming for. Think about a goal and aim for it every day.
I’m sorry to tell you this – but the world owes you nothing. If you’re going to make this work, you’re going to need to get up every day and take fate into your own hands.
#2 – Be a leader
The chances are you’re going to have people working for you – so be a leader, not a boss.
The differences might just seem like words – so try to think about people who’ve inspired you in the past. What did they do that the typical hard-faced boss didn’t? The chances are they supported you, rather than managed you down a particular course of action.
Encourage free and creative thinking in your team. Support them to be the best they can be – and your company will soar.
#3 – Create the right atmosphere
It might sound like a cliché, but the very best work places are those in which everyone feels like they’re part of something bigger – or a family.
Studies show that healthy camaraderie creates the kind of work place that people want work hard in. You might not necessarily like your family or your colleagues all the time – but if you’ve got one another’s backs, then employees feel safe, supported and able to perform.
#4 – Reframe ‘mistakes’
Whoever came up with the term ‘mistake’ wasn’t an entrepreneur. When you’re in business mistakes don’t happen – you just need to pick up and do it again, learning a lesson along the way.
Every time you make what you consider to be a ‘mistake’ – note it down. Revisit it a week, a month or a year later and note down what this mistake actually led to. The best entrepreneurs have stumbled hundreds of times – but always picked themselves up, assessed – and kept moving.
#5 – Look after yourself
Starting up in business is hard work, you’re probably going to be working longer and harder than you ever have before – with the additional emotions attached to starting your own business too.
If you’re going to captain the ship, you’re going to need to make sure you’re fit for the job. Looking after yourself can be difficult – there’s a balance to be struck between heading for burn out and being a little lazy – neither of which will get you the success you want.
Think of it like this – when planning for an emergency, cabin crew on a plane will tell you to attach your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you drop, you’re no use to the people who are relying on you. Whatever it is you need to do to make sure you’re okay – do it, everyone around you will benefit as a result.
#6 – No quick fixes
The closest thing to a quick fix or magic bullet you’ll get in business is understanding that there’s no such thing as a quick fix or a magic bullet.
Sure, you can work smart where possible – but don’t think for one second that there’s a magic product or method around the corner that’s going to revolutionise the way you work or expand. Patience and hard work is the only route to the top – and neither are quick.
#7 – Action beats perfection
Perfectionism is something that’s often rolled out in job interviews as a seemingly smart answer to that ‘tell us about a weakness’ question.
You might think you’re dressing a good thing up as a development point – but actually, perfectionism is extremely caustic to a startup – and can probably derail the train quicker than shabby work.
Here’s a hard fact – it’s way better to put something out there than strive for a perfect product that never quite arises. Until you’ve got your business, presentation, product, sales pitch or anything else into the world – it’s just an idea – and ideas don’t pay the bills.
#8 – Do give up
‘Don’t give up’ they say!
Well, nice sentiment – but in business it’s likely only to have you fly your failing plane into a mountain. Be ready to give up on a plan if it’s not going well. There’s no shame – in fact, it’s better to retreat and live to battle again the next day.
#9 – Put in the hours
When you ditched the 9-5 you probably thought that being your own boss might mean a couple of early finishes here and there – maybe taking back those weekends that were getting absorbed by work projects.
Goodbye 9-5, hello 7-11. Being an entrepreneur is hard work and it’s going to have you sat up to the small hours getting things right and keeping the business in line. The only way you’re going to make it work is to put the hours in. Even if passing those smaller admin tasks to others is a possibility for the future, understanding every nut and bolt of the business is a really important foundation to make – even if it’s more than a little time consuming.
#10 – Ditch the image
‘Entrepreneur’ – that’s going to look great on your LinkedIn profile right? Don’t pretend you haven’t thought about it… but do realise that if you’re caught up with the idea of looking good as an aspiring business mogul – you’re probably doing it wrong.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t about being Richard Branson from the get-go, it’s about putting in a LOT of hard work for a prolonged period of time. It’s about doing it wrong, it’s about failing, it’s about working all the hours in the day – the champagne lifestyle comes much later.