I wasn’t planning on doing this but LinkedIn reminded me today that I have been at this entrepreneur thing for two years now. It was completely new to me when I started. Here are some things I’ve learned for anyone else in my shoes or thinking about going out on their own. See here for reflections on Year Three as an entrepreneur.
Running a business isn’t easy
- It’s hard: Everyone probably already knows running your own business is no vacation but it’s amazing to me the number of things I have to think about. Taxes, licenses, marketing, communications, time management, flexibility, contract exposure, malpractice insurance, and on and on.The flip side is difficulty is a product of expectations. If you expect things to be hard they will be and if you set your goals based on your plan and not on specific numbers you can see your success more clearly. Being an entrepreneur will make you better at everything else you do.
Your fees reflect your value
- Get the money up front: In my haste to make connections and please potential clients I have offered services for free multiple times. This has worked for some people, it hasn’t for me. If you offer your services for free you’re telling people your value. And they will come to expect it every time. The promises on the horizon never come. You’ll be the donkey chasing the carrot. If people aren’t willing to pay you it tells you what they really think about your value anyway. Get the money or move on.
Believe in your product and be enthusiastic about it
- You’re a salesman all the time: People are worried about themselves they don’t care what you’re doing even if you’ve got something that can really help them. The burden of proof is always on you. This isn’t just about demeanor but it’s about constantly thinking about how to align your economic incentives with your clients, associates, and partners. Economics explains all behavior. Find the right incentive point and the product sells itself.
Your future as an entrepreneur is a choice
- Believe in yourself. Yes it’s cliché, maybe even pabulum. But if you don’t believe in yourself and your business model no one else will either. Henry Ford went broke five times; Abraham Lincoln lost nearly every election he ran in. With all the setbacks, my first raise is about to go live. It has been over a year in the making but it’s almost here and hopefully it will be springboard to many more.
And when all else fails, buy yourself some snazzy new business cards and keep going! 🙄