My number one goal when sharing content is to help and inspire people, to always be optimistic and to show people that anything is impossible. There is enough negative content out there I try to keep mine positive and uplifting. I also always want to keep it real and authentic as I know the value to me the people I follow and am inspired by doing so. So, here are the five biggest errors I made in my first year as an Entrepreneur (2018) in the hope that this might help you on your journey. Hopefully, this might make you feel less alone, if you made these mistakes yourself and, if you’re just starting out, then maybe it will encourage you to change your mindset before you get started.
I’ve always been a ‘big picture person’ with big dreams and big goals which are hugely valuable when becoming an entrepreneur but also hugely limiting. You must have a balance of short term and long term goals to ensure you’re taking the small steps every day, moving closer to your goals.
The skill of learning how to set goals is extremely valuable and is now one of the most valuable skills I have cultivated. I have lifetime goals, I have five-year goals, I have year-long goals BUT now I have 90-day goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals. Success compounds, the small steps, the daily actions, decisions, and choices add up to the big picture. I understand this now. My goals enable me to always be focused on the big picture; always levelling up. However, when I first started, I didn’t do this – I just jumped right in with a lifetime goal of being a super successful Entrepreneur. It took about 24 hours for me to realize that I was going to be an Entrepreneur for the rest of my life. It took about a week to understand how little I actually knew and how much I was going to have to learn. My big-picture goals kept me motivated for my first year however resulted in some bad decisions and ending pretty broke! Understanding the balance between the big picture and small steps is crucial, I know that now.
I also jumped STRAIGHT in. I didn’t have any clarity in terms of my purpose, my mission, my values, my target customer. I jumped and hoped the net would form. Which it did initially, but it was a pretty flimsy net, beginners luck. I have absolutely no regrets in doing this because I know that despite being a big-picture thinker, I’m also quite an overthinker so I can easily get stuck in analysis paralysis. However, if I was advising, coaching or mentoring someone who was at the start of their journey I’d spend some time with them getting clarity on their why, how, who and what. It doesn’t need to take long and will save hours down the road. I didn’t understand the true value of coaching then however and paid the price with some poor decisions. No regrets, of course, but a useful thing to bear in mind whenever I’m launching something new. Entrepreneurs are often creative, ideas people and regularly run before they walk. Not always a bad thing, but there’s no harm in spending some time learning to crawl before running a marathon.
The second mistake I made was going it alone. It’s completely normal that, when you start a business, you don’t want to spend any money; you don’t want to pay for coaching, you don’t want to pay for resources, you don’t want to pay for courses, you don’t want to pay for any form of support. Maybe you don’t have the funds or maybe you think you’ll work it out yourself. And this isn’t to say that that isn’t possible that way, because it can be – but this is my story, and I know that my experience on this resonates with most people who’ve built their own businesses.
My second year of business was when I started to pay out on support, people and resources (and last year I would have thought that was total madness!) but, purely because of that, my revenue has increased exponentially. Last year, I ended up having to get quite a sizeable personal loan, which enabled me to essentially build a business while I not paying myself a salary. However, I think I may not have had to do that if I had actually invested in some coaching or courses in that first year. While a year isn’t really that long to learn these lessons, I’m really glad that I’ve learned them because investing in external support and resources is how I levelled up; you really can only get so far, really, by just working it out yourself and muddling along. There’s this particular mentality of, “Oh! I can learn all of these things without buying that course or without paying that person but by consuming their free content or by working it out” and, while you can learn a hell of a lot, you cannot learn it all for free! Because let’s be honest, the content people share is to help a little but is often essentially intended as a lead magnet to get you interested in the services and products that they provide. And guess what? That means that, while the free content might be great, you’re never going to get the full picture and your work is never going to reach its full potential.
I absolutely tried that – I tried to learn a lot from my online heroes without actually paying them any money – and, now that I have paid them the money, I’ve seen that what I found before really was just the tip of the iceberg. Compared with the transformational experiences I’ve had with the full paid experience, it’s really incomparable. If you want to stick or maybe keep cheap – that’s great – but it does mean you’re going to cap your salary or your revenue. I definitely did. The minute I started to pay for Coaches and Mentors for different areas of my life and business things really started to change. Program were built, books were written, lives were changed. It’s a false economy thinking that you’re saving money by not paying experts, in the short term you may save but in the long, you may in time and usually in money.
So, I’m going to be quite honest here; when I started out because I had a law degree, a background working at a huge consultancy, entrepreneurial parents and a relatively strong skillset, I definitely let pride get the better of me at times. I wasn’t humble enough to ask for help or try and learn from others who had achieved more than me which, in hindsight was total fear of finding out what I was doing was wrong. The honest reason was that I was terrified to seem like I didn’t know everything. I’d meet somebody who was ahead of me in their career or their life, for example, and, instead of embracing it and learning from them, it was almost like I would shut down, I’d feel so insecure that instead of asking questions, connecting and learning I’d feel resentment and frustration. This meant that I wasn’t really living my truth; I wasn’t making the most of those opportunities, and it was simply because my pride was getting the better of me. Pride can be a good thing and, while pride and ego are qualities that are definitely needed in order to become an entrepreneur (because you really do need that push that can only come from a certain level of pride), there’s a fine line where pride can become quite damaging.
Looking back, I can see that there’s a strong possibility that I became an entrepreneur for the wrong reasons. This was mainly due to the fact that I didn’t truly understand the power of being an entrepreneur. I had lived so long unfulfilled and living less than half of my potential that I didn’t even realize how passionate and driven I was! I didn’t realize the power that entrepreneurs can have to change the world and the lives of others. I’d say that when I first started out I became an entrepreneur because I thought that it meant that I would potentially have to do less work…because my association of work was that it was boring, negative and hard. Like many new Entrepreneurs, I’d read ‘The 4-hour Work Week’ and I decided to start a business within minimal input with huge output goals (actually so ridiculously funny). Obviously, as an Entrepreneur you do FAR more work, I certainly do, but you love it. I couldn’t imagine a life like that, had I known what I know now, I’d have done it years earlier. Really understanding the reasons you’re starting out as an entrepreneur is absolutely key. You’ll need that drive when the going gets tough!
It’s a little bit embarrassing to admit this but, I think that because I’m smart and I have entrepreneurial parents, I kind of thought it would work for me and that it should work because I’ve worked hard my whole life and it felt like being an entrepreneur should be the pay-off. I think because of that, I made some decisions that potentially weren’t me being my most authentic self, because I thought it would all work out, without really deeply analyzing my decisions and learning from my mistakes.
My feeling of entitlement definitely held me back in the beginning because I just wasn’t as scrappy as you need to be. I wasn’t learning fast enough, I wasn’t learning from my mistakes and I wasn’t working hard enough. My suggestion, if you have an entitled state of mind in any way at all, if you have any moments in your life where you think the world owes you when in fact you owe it then you really need to work on that before you become an entrepreneur. To be successful you need to get DOWN in the trenches, you need to fight, learn, grow, fail. There is no space for any form of entitlement. Being an Entrepreneur is the thing that lights me up the most, which puts me in flow. It is not for everyone but if you think it’s for you, I hope this blog has been valuable.