For a while now, I’ve wanted to record my journey as an entrepreneur but found it difficult to find the time, words, and even motivation to do so. I think, to some extent, I’ve always been reserved about sharing advice on this particular topic as I never wanted to lead a new entrepreneur down the wrong path. So naturally, this meant that I went through periods of second-guessing and procrastinating on what I should be creating and how best to truly help those on this unpredictable path.
After years of building my business and working alongside hundreds of entrepreneurs, I finally feel like I’ve gone through some really unique experiences that make me well-versed in certain fundamentals that make businesses tick. I hope that these experiences give you some practical guidance to succeed, especially if you’re just starting up. To get started, I thought it would be a good idea to offer three fundamental ideas that any founder should consider throughout their entrepreneurial journey. These were things that I often overlooked in the past but are now at the very core of every strategy I employ.
I still remember the first day I started my business. I was 21, fresh out of university with nothing more than a couple of months of work experience under my belt. I was sure that I would be a multimillionaire in just a few months. Oh, the naivety. I sat at my desk, stared into oblivion, trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. This placed me on a strange path of self-discovery for many years, making a lot of mistakes along the way but also gaining some truly invaluable knowledge. For the first time in my life, I was responsible for everything that happened to me. There was no teacher to tell me what was right, no boss to shout at me when I made a mistake. It was scary but freeing in a way. It also meant that making good business decisions was even more important. The problem was, I didn’t truly understand how important these daily decisions were. In fact, I was completely unaware.
During this period in my life, I took pride in working hard. It was never really that difficult for me. Yet, for some strange reason, I found it hard to move out of second gear. There was never enough revenue to scale, or we never really had the project work that truly excited us. It took me some time to realise that it wasn’t that I wasn’t working hard. It was simply that I was working hard on the wrong things.
Having spent a little bit of time crafting a vision for both my personal and professional life, paired with simple strategies that allowed me to effectively use both my time and resources, I began to turn towards the direction where I wanted to go. I found myself saying no to a lot of opportunities that I otherwise would have jumped at. I also became extremely selective of choosing the right people and projects that helped push me towards my goal.
It was during these moments where I was faced with some hard truths. A vision is extremely important and without it, it’s not only difficult to achieve your dreams but your tank of motivation will also often run dry. This will lead to problems with consistency, creativity, and productivity.
Crafting a vision, protecting it, and working on making it clearer in your mind allows you to take the necessary action to manifest it into existence. A vision also leads to stronger strategies that create the specific parameters that you work within, which ultimately dictates the quality of your output.
As much as I hate to say this, you need to figure out your cash flow situation before you get stuck in. I spent way too much time stressing about money, taxes, and advertising costs than any young man ever needed to. I often let my pride get in the way of me taking on a part-time job that lasted more than a few months. I always felt entitled, a sense of, I deserve a better role, and maybe I did, but this sense of entitlement was only slowing me down. I was also scared of people seeing me as a failure, as if having a part-time job meant that I wasn’t good at business. In a nutshell, this was all psychological and something I fear many entrepreneurs put themselves through. If you’re still new to business, I definitely recommend freelancing or doing something part-time that allows you to accumulate some wealth on the side that allows you to battle the cost-related barriers that businesses face to scale.
If you want to truly build your company, then I would recommend that you keep the job you take on a role only in the form of a part-time job. This is to ensure that not all of your time and energy is taken. Many entrepreneurs take on a role to get some extra money and suddenly find that they are spending most of their week working, commuting to and from work, and struggling to find the energy to do anything else on top. This puts them in a state of stagnation and most of the time, these ideas of a business gradually dissipate over time. Keeping things part-time gives you the best of both worlds. As well as freeing up tricky financial matters, it also gives you an opportunity to learn and analyse how businesses function from within.
When we leave university or any form of education, we somewhat get into the habit of learning the bare minimum to get things done. Time is scarce, and before you know it, the week has gone, and you’ve not moved much in your personal or professional journey. I’ve met many people that complain about the quality of their lives and that they have no time to work on anything new, but these same people find time to binge a full series on Netflix. I’m not against watching TV; I fall into that exact category from time to time to unwind, but when you’re consuming, you’re not creating. How you spend your time is ultimately your choice.
I find that by having a healthy relationship with knowledge and having a desire to learn keeps me moving as an entrepreneur. It allows me to consume the right content that adds value to my life, and it frees up the creative roadblocks that occur throughout the journey. Picking up a book, trying a tutorial, or speaking to an experienced professional unlocks a long list of new possibilities that help with many things from generating good products, increasing revenue, or building the right partnerships.
I sincerely believe that as founders, this appetite to learn needs to be rooted in your day-to-day life. By bettering your awareness of the world, you will be able to build a better business that truly serves your community of customers. It also keeps life interesting and exciting.
And that’s it, these three fundamental ideas and principles help guide me on the strategic decisions I take to grow my business. Granted, we are only human, and it’s easy to overlook any of these three areas, but by being conscious of them, you will notice that you will begin to lead a more purposeful life.