On December 2, 2015 / Business
There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the world and I’m sure if we asked what are five things you wish you did when you first started business, we would get some great answers.
Here are five things that I wish I had done when I first started in business since 2002. Now I do them and they produce amazing results but I wish I would have started them right from the beginning. In establishing your business and growing your business, you’re going to have a lot of things pulling at you. And you’re going to have a lot of people pulling at you. And these five things are so important and it proved to me that as I adhered to these and we grow our businesses, I find that these have really paid off for me and my business along the way.
1. Find Mentors in the Community
I suggest that no matter what, that you find mentors in the community. I was a little shy at the beginning but I quickly realized that people genuinely want to help. When I first came to this new community and opened a business in the city, I didn’t know anyone. I’d move my head office from one city to another and I had to get connected really quickly to grow my business.
One thing I did was I reached out to a whole bunch of people and said, “You know, I’m new to the city, a new business person and this is a little bio on me. I’d love to take you out for lunch. And if you could kind of help me understand and know the city a little bit in the businesses, I’d really appreciate it.” So I did this. I invited 50 people out of the community that I found online. It’s not really hard to find go getters in every community. And so I invited these 50 people for lunch at different times of the month. And out of that there was 39 that said yes right away, that “Yes I’d love to go for lunch with you.”
Out of that, those people were very, very helpful in giving me some really good important business intelligence about the community that I was establishing my head office in. And it was very powerful because people would call me up to go to events and it would be very instrumental in introducing me to people. Then after they made the introduction they kind of let it be up to me to make sure that I was making connections in building relationships.
So mentors are very important. This is something that established entrepreneurs, when you want to take your business to the next level or like I did expand to a new community, it’s something so simple to do.
2. Keep and Preserve Time for Family and Friends
As much as you think your business is the most important thing to you, and I’ve heard this from so many entrepreneurs, make sure that you keep and preserve time for family and friends. Time and time again, established business people have said to me, “I started my business because I wanted to do so much for my family. I wanted to give them so much. But I work so hard in my business that I never had time for them. And in the end I realized that all they really wanted from me was my time. And they really didn’t care how much money we had.”
As entrepreneurs, we kind of lose sight. You’re working till 1 or 2 in the morning getting up at 5. We’re exhausted. We’re short-tempered sometimes. But your family and your friends are really important and that’s an important thing to keep as a perspective.
3. Celebrate Your Successes
As entrepreneurs, we’re driven. We’re always looking for the next week, the next month, the next year, and sometimes we lose sight of the big successes are little successes we’ve had along the way. And so I make a point when I have achieved a success, I buy something small for myself. Sometimes it’s jewelry, sometimes it’s a card, sometimes it’s a small piece of art. It’s never expensive but when I pass it, I recognize what that success is and it tweaks in my mind. And it reminds me that I’ve achieved a lot along the way.
4. Write and Implement a Strategic Plan
Every year I draft a strategic plan. That sounds complicated; it really isn’t. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What went really well last year?
What do I hope I’d never repeat from last year?
What are some of the things I’m so grateful for about last year?
What are some things I’d like to achieve for the future?
The I determine how I break that down into some goals so there’s some numbers and dates and actions attached to it. Then I make that an action plan. And that strategic plan usually ends up being at three pages with bullet points and I usually come up with five things. I want to grow my sales. I want to make my customers happier. I want to build my processes to be more efficient. Those are some examples of the business sort of strategies and then I work out how I’m going to do that. And then I work out the numbers and the dates. By this day I’m going to do this. That is my five-page document I keep on my desk on a regular basis. And every morning or every week I look at it and I go okay “I’m on track for this”. If you’re fortunate to have a few minutes at night I actually journal just to see how I’ve made progress along on that strategic plan. But it’s really important. You cannot manage what you don’t measure and so a strategic plan really helps you to measure out how much or how well you’re doing along the year.
5. Create a Vision Board
I’m a visual person and I always create a vision board. So again around the time just before New Year’s, I look through magazines and I find things, pictures of images that really kind of resonate with me. And this year I looked at my vision board that I started just December 31st 2015. And there were only two things on my vision board that I didn’t achieve. And how crazy is that because some of them were like, one of the things I put on the vision board that I didn’t even know how I was going to do it, was that we were going to win web design agency of the year. And I’m like, “I don’t even know if there’s like a competition in our community about that.” And lo and behold, we win it a couple months ago and so it’s really great. One of them was I was going to buy a sports car and it said really great price. Not just the sports car, it was going to be a really great price. I can tell you I got a really great price on the sports car this summer. So what you see and what your mind sees every day when you pass that vision board really sets the scene right? And I have it for that I was going to launch a magazine and that I was going to start a couple of different projects. I was going to get six paid speaking engagements because I had a picture of me at the podium speaking. All of those were achieved this year but that visual reinforcement really makes a difference.
Those are some of my tools that I wish I had started when I first started in being an entrepreneur. I’m so glad that I’m using them now and they really helped me make sure that I am doing well in my business but also that I have a little bit of balance in my life.