It’s the end of 2021. Who thought this time would eventually arrive, but thank the heavens it has. This means that while we’re reflecting on everything that has come to pass, both the good and the not-so-good, it is also the ideal time to consider what happens next.
Look, we’ve all had to make sacrifices and changes to our way of life that has left some of us inspired and others – still playing a bit of catch up. But even if you fall into the latter, we’re here to offer a leading light of inspiration, just in time for the new year.
Because when all is said and done, failure is not an option. Falling victim to the pandemic is simply not allowed in our new existence as that is a reality that is too awful to contemplate, given that there is more at stake now than ever before.
So, if you’re feeling inspired – read on, and if you’re having to take some time to tend to your battle-weary wounds, read on too, because we have some finely crafted thoughts from some of the world’s most creative thinkers to help you get started.
FIRST, LET’S DEAL WITH FAILURE
We get it. If you are in the position where starting over is less of a choice and more of an “I have no choice”, either way – you’re already a winner. Tough times are what make that entrepreneurial spirit thrive. Our way of discovering how the business environment works and an equally important lesson – doesn’t work, is not driven by success. It is crafted and skillfully tempered by failure. Failing at business only makes you a failure when you don’t get up and start all over again. With that being said, the modifier of starting all over again is inaccurate because technically, you’re not starting again – rather, you’re starting from where you left off.
It’s an important distinction because starting again implies a clean slate. While that might sound nice, you don’t necessarily want a clean slate. Remember all of those long hours, burning the midnight oil, missing family events or functions, all of those experiences count towards your future success. What is important though, is that you learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the only way you’re going to know which is which – is by getting back onto the saddle.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
TIMING, AND THE IMPORTANCE THEREOF
You’re going to confront this sentiment on many different occasions in your quest for entrepreneurial independence, and the experts are not wrong. But time in and of itself is not the real issue here, rather it is your preparedness that is more important. You could find the best opportunity that suddenly presents itself to you, but because you’re not in the best possible space to meet that opportunity, you end up losing it or not exploiting it to its fullest potential.
So how do you best place yourself in the realm of preparedness?
There are five key areas that you always need to be on top of, regardless of whether your bank balance reflects the downpayment for your new sportscar yet or not.
1. Remain focused on your products or services and your customers:
This means that if you’re starting up or restarting, your core value system as an entrepreneur needs to remain sharp and ready for business. Conduct regular assessments of your skill levels, the preparedness you can display in as much as being physically able to deliver on your service promise. Ask yourself if you’re taking advantage of the best possible marketing advice and do you know your intended marketplace intimately? This means knowing your customers’ competition as well as your own, too.
2. Never stop learning:
While your scouring local business networks for opportunities or when you’re sitting at home pondering what to do next, always be learning about something. The internet is a vast resource of knowledge and tons of good material doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
3. Network, all the time:
What seems a silly little local county fare or small business get together could yield unimaginable results. You have no idea who hangs out at these things but more importantly, you have no idea who they know in turn. Stay visible and keep an open ear.
4. Evolution rocks:
The only thing worse than having to start over (or face the fear of starting at all), is not growing and remaining static. Yes, keep what works and discard what doesn’t. Yes, know who you are as a business, but also learn how important it is to keep a healthy attitude towards change and how to recognize when certain functions or pursuits are no longer worth it or desirable.
5. Money, Money, Money:
Through all things, keep an eye on your funding, your cash flow, your financial management, and your cost to profit models. Even if you’re not turning over six figures yet, in fact especially if you’re not. Learning how to manage that checkbook early will lead to healthy habits later.
When all is said and done, remember this: the best time to start a business – is now. The economy is waking and the focus is on local suppliers as communities move to support domestic growth first.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE (REALLY)
It sounds a little Shakespearian, but if it was true for the master of the English tongue, then it’s true for you. Really take the time to know who you are as an individual and what you’re realistically able to offer to the best of your ability and the highest possible standard. If you’re coming from a business background or you’re leaving a career behind, you’ve learned transmissible skills and you’ve learned your craft. So whether you’re starting a business as a party planner (in which case you will need gold foil invitations), or you’re using your financial acumen to help others with their taxes or bookkeeping, invest in an ongoing study to keep your skills sharp and up to date.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH DIVERSE BUSINESS PEOPLE AND DECISION MAKERS
This ties in with the networking section we briefly looked at earlier. Ever heard the saying show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future? Well, it works in business too and success tends to breed success. So while you’re navigating your new landscape, be sure and populate that landscape with equally ambitious folk.
Join (or start) a local business network chapter and take the lead in your local community when it comes to being the “go-to” person for solutions. It’s not just CEO’s that need personal assistants, small businesses need people around them that can make things happen for them too, and if you’re the kind of operator that knows how to make connections and get things done, this may well be a business in and of itself.
NOW, GET BUSY
Remember to keep a keen eye on your anticipated start date. This date (save for truly unknowable happenings), should be as immovable as possible. Keeping focused on your anticipated launch date will help apply the right kind of pressure to keep you motivated and determined.
We can at times get bogged down by all of the details without paying proper attention to the physical work that needs to happen for our business to run.
Have fun! Remember these moments in your lead-up to starting (or starting over), because they’re precious and one day you’ll look back on this time, and smile.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield