I‘ve been in business for over a decade. I've made many mistakes, but mostly, I have enjoyed creating products that help other people be successful and enjoy their work more. Naturally, after being at it for so long, I know a lot of things now that I wish I'd known in 2000 when I first hung out my shingle.
While none of my mistakes have been fatal, some of them have brought me to the brink of — well, places I do not like. Today, I sifted through the Indie Business Podcast archive (here and here), which contains hundreds of interviews with some of the nation's top business achievers and authors, to see if I could identify any themes from the tips and ideas they have shared with me through the years. Here are eight principles that stand out:
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Make sure you have passion. Without passion for your work, you will simply not have the resilience, focus, stamina, and power needed to propel your business forward. Passion is not all you need, but without it, both you and your business are likely to falter before you've gotten very far.
Assess your financial situation. Like passion, money isn't everything. But a personal financial mess will hamstring your business faster than just about anything else. Assess, appreciate, and act on your personal financial realities before you start your business. Completely eliminate debt if you can. Create a plan that ensures that personal financial stress does not compromise your ability to make good business decisions.
Establish your board of directors. Select positive, creative, and *available* people to serve as your informal board of directors. Meet with them regularly to incorporate new ideas, assess strategies, and make sure that your actions feed specific business goals. Humble yourself to them, and allow them to hold you accountable.
Account for your weaknesses. Knowing what you are not good at can save your business because it empowers you to hand off tasks you dislike or perform poorly. If you think you don't have any weaknesses, ask your trusted friends and you'll get a nice little list. Use it to find people who are strong where you are weak, then figure out how to get them to help you, or refer you to people who can.
Systematize everything. An efficient business runs on a system. Schedule everything you can possibly schedule, and then stick to the schedule. This way, you won't have to think much about anything. Just put it on the schedule and do it. If something is no longer needed, remove it from the schedule. If something is scheduled at a bad time, change it. If something needs to be added, add it.
Create a system that includes all of the tasks that must be performed (by you and by others) in order to make your business successful, and then honor that system over and over again. Do this, and you won't waste time and energy hemming, hawing, procrastinating, or thinking about what on earth you need to do next.
Make technology your slave. You will not be successful in your business unless you appropriate technology for your benefit. Every business thrives on it today, and yours will be no exception. Especially where content marketing is concerned, you must be willing to invest both time and money in learning how to use technology to make your voice, and the voice of your business, heard above the crowd.
(The Media Is You training intensive is a great place to get the information you need to use technology to successfully market your products and services.)
Get rid of short term thinking. It has been said that, “It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.” In reality, it may take less time, or it may take more. The point is that if you think that the world will immediately beat a path to your door, with credit card in hand, just because you launch a new product, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Be prepared to be a voice crying in the wilderness for a while.
If you have a quality product and you stick with it, you won't be alone forever. But you probably will be for a while. Don't let it surprise or discourage you. It's part of the process. Expect it.
Marginalize negative people. This may be difficult, but it's important to marginalize friends and family members who offer criticism that is not constructive. Some people will be legitimately concerned for you. They will worry about the number of hours you work, whether you're getting enough sleep, etc. I'm not talking about those people.
I'm talking about the negative nay-sayers. Remove them from your head. Remove them from your life if you can. But if you cannot do that, work on removing them from your head by surrounding yourself with supportive people whose voices drown out the negativity. But is hard enough. Don't make it worse by associating with people who don't have your best interests at heart.
While my core business values always include treating clients and IBN members with the kind of respect described here, the G-R-E-A-T acronym is a super reminder, don't you think?
Question: Did I leave anything out What are some other ways to save a business before it starts?