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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through When Becoming An Entrepreneur

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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through Becoming An Entrepreneur

Have you crossed that bridge yet? The one where you walk over to the entrepreneurial side (we’ve got cookies!)?

Or are you still looking at the wobbliness of the bridge itself? And at how crazy wild that river below is…And at all the alligators there waiting to get you…And you are still not risking it even though you can see the unicorns prance in fields of 4-leaved clovers and double rainbows stretch as far as the eye can see on the other side?

Ai, that sucks! But…it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of that giant step!

In fact, there are 6 stages that most people taking the leap from a steady job to entrepreneurialism go through:

 

Stage 1: Where you experience a nagging, gnawing knowing of something you’d rather didn’t

This is what happened to me; I was building the career I had always set out for myself. A career that included regular promotions, valuable lessons, great peers to work with and the accompanying great pay and car.

But, I also felt like I was continuously fighting political windmills and had to drag myself to work everyday even though on the outside everything looked just fine and dandy.

That’s when it started to dawn on me that this type of career was making me unhappy. But as it was all I knew and had ever wanted, I didn’t do anything about it for a long time and ended up (almost) burning myself out.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore” – William Faulkner

Stage 2: Where you’re afraid of the void

But this was my life. This was all built on the studies I had done. This was what my friends were doing. What was the alternative?

Slowly it came to me that freelancing might give me the freedom I so longed for (I know, not ‘proper’ entrepreneuring perhaps but still…big change!). But instead of already smelling the freedom, all I saw was a big black whole of nothingness (mainly money) coming up ahead and all I felt was a big swirling fear in my stomach.

 

Stage 3: Where you come up with a million excuses to NOT do it

Even though rationally I knew I could do this, and even though I really really wanted to do this, I still had a ton of reasons why this was such a bad idea:

  • I believed that deep down I wasn’t good at my job (hellooo impostor syndrome!).
  • I believed that because I have a non-traditional way of looking at a business, no company would ever want to hire me.
  • I believed that I had to do traditional sales stuff to get myself hired and I was totally allergic to that!

 

Belief systems…sigh…so useless!

“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer” – Nolan Bushnell

Stage 4: When it becomes undeniably clear that things need to change

So after a terribly long stint of being unhappy in my work, and therefore my life, I was ‘lucky’ enough to fall into a corporate reorganisation and that management had decided something that went way beyond what I felt was acceptable.

Through this, I finally got to that point where I could say to myself: NO MORE!

Ah, how liberating it felt to say NO to that what I didn’t think was acceptable.

Really, without that, I couldn’t have done it and finding my ‘NO’ is still pretty much the foundation from which I work and live.

Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

 

Stage 5: Where you can finally see the puzzle pieces come together

It was a good friend and mentor of mine who helped me figure this out. I was complaining on how I would definitely go bankrupt and this was his reply:

Him: “Imagine a worst case scenario where you go bankrupt and have to give all your possessions to the bank: would that kill you?”

Me: “No, it’s all Ikea, Zara and thrifted anyway…”

Him: “Okay, so in that scenario, would you be able to walk the 20 kilometres from your place to mine?”

Me: “Sure!”

Him: “Would you be willing to work in my restaurant whilst sleeping on your brothers couch?”

Me: “Of course”

Him: “And will you then be able to save money for a ticket to Indonesia where you could probably find a diveschool where you could work as a divemaster (I love Indonesia and diving obviously) and business coach for food and lodgings?”

Me: “Euhm…well…probably…”

Him: “So if that’s your very worst case scenario…what are you complaining about?”

Me: “Euhm…nothing??? Damn…”

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Stage 6: Where you take the plunge and start attracting opportunity

So I quit!

Two weeks later I had an amazingly well paid freelance job that gave me the financial opportunity to help my brother build his start up for 2 years AND still have enough resources to take another plunge for myself with my own business.

Now whether I got lucky or whether it was just the universe lining up exactly what I deserved for choosing myself (btw, definitely check out James Altuchers’ book on this!), I don’t know. And it doesn’t even matter!

I can only tell you that it felt really good to be there for myself. Still does!

And no, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows on the entrepreneurial side.

But it is freedom

And passion

And a rollercoaster ride that continues to keep me smiling…

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So if you feel like you’re on that edge and that that first step is just too big remember that this is normal.

You can take all the time you need to go through your own stages, but, don’t lose that vision of where you want to go.

Also remember do not ever accept the unacceptable.


Your happiness depends on it!

Linda Coussement is a life coach, writer and documentary maker. She’s slowly travelling the world asking all sorts of people: “How is it to be you?” Get her 10-page workbook on how to turn your dreams into practical reality right here and/or connect with her on Facebook.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nancy cripe

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Spot on! I also went through each of these phases and made the jump 6 weeks ago. My first 6 weeks with out pay since high school. No regrets.

  2. Neha Singh

    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Great Article Lawrence! You have put together the points so well and convincingly. I truly believe that perseverance is one of the most important quality of being successful as an entrepreneur. And, you covered it so well in point #3 where you talk about excuses!

    • Linda Coussement

      Aug 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Thanks Neha that’s really kind (though it’s me, Linda, who’s written the article and not Lawrence) 🙂

  3. Ramesh

    Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post. Bang on! I can relate to this completely. I have gone thru these stages myself .. taken the plunge ..currently in stage 6.
    In the end .. all I can say is overcoming your fears is the beginning.

    Regards,

  4. Online money maker system

    May 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

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  5. Mark Tong

    May 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi Linda
    The stages you describe really rang true to me in all the entrepreneurial enterprises I’ve tried (and am trying!). And none of this worked for me until I went after the opportunity I REALLY wanted, not the one I thought I SHOULD go for.

  6. Quinn Eurich

    May 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I keep telling #5 to myself (sans the whole diving thing) over and over again, because it’s so true!

    Great job Linda! Always a pleasure to read someone who’s been there and done it!

  7. Jamie

    May 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    You make it seem less scary! Yes, being an entrepreneur is tough, but it is tougher to live with the regret of not ever trying it! If at first you don’t succeed….

  8. Lynn

    May 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    What an insightful post and timely post. A friend is right in stages #2 and #3 so I’ve sent this along to him for a read and hopefully it’s the inspiration he needs!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ahw thanks Lynn! I hope he makes it through to the next stages soon!

  9. Faigie

    May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I just read the latest INC magazine and in it they interviewed some really successfull young entreupeneur who said they ALL feel like imposters…so you’re in good company 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

      haha, that’s good to know and a great topic for my next blogpost actually 🙂

  10. Ann

    May 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The article is spot-on! Anyone going through change experiences those points. I relate to #3.

  11. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Linda- This is a great post. In my experience, a lot of the crippling fear comes from lack of clarity about how to proceed forward. The entrepreneur isn’t sure the idea is good enough and isn’t sure how to find out.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Yes that’s what I figured out just the other day too Rob!

  12. Therese Sibon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    wow … so my crazy is NORMAL? And of course – making steps to change your life is not guaranteed success – but it will guarantee movement which engenders change. As you so beautifully wrote – the decision lines up the universe as a support system.

  13. Angela

    May 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So many of us experience this! Thanks for helping us feel less alone. And this quote is my new mantra: Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      You’re right, I might just make stickers with that mantra and hand them out to coachees 🙂

  14. John Anderson

    May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I feel like I hit all six stages at once. 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful post Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Wow, that must feel like an emotional tsunami for you! The best of luck with it and thanks for the compliment!

  15. Kim

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I think this scenario is probably way more common than we even think it is. It’s a scary thing and while it would be great if we woke up one day with the aha moment and the “Yes, this is the day,” feeling, in the end however we get there is good. Thank you. This resonated with me.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You’re welcome! I would indeed love to wake up to that feeling but unfortunately, we have to create that feeling for ourselves and not just sit around and wait for it to happen!

  16. Helen McCarthy

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Linda for expressing what many of us who change tack feel. Great article.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the compliment Helen! Change is scary and great at the same time, but in the end it’s the only way to move forward!

  17. Ethan

    May 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hey Lawrence, you nailed it.

    All these stages seem to have an underlying fear. (Or is it the image?) It may be wrong, but this fear is what pushes entrepreneur hopefuls to actually act.

    I must admit reading this got me some chills.

    Very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’m sorry to give you chills but I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂
      Yes, fear is the entrepreneurs’ biggest hurdle, no matter what stage he/she is at! But it’s also the hurdle they’re willing to cross time and again because they know that they will profit from it, personally AND business wise.

  18. Linda Coussement

    May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Lawrence! And yes, the unknown is indeed where most of our fears come from, which is funny because technically there’s not really anything to be scared of. I’m happy you made it to the other side and thank you for sharing!

  19. Chandraka

    May 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Absolutely amazing article. I want the writer to know that he has honestly helped someone make a huge decision. My story is very very similar to yours. Right after highschool I went straight to university and studied finance and went straight to work at a bank.

    It was all I knew and studied and wanted to go far in the bank. But I hated going to work everyday, hated it. I never had that excitement to get up in the morning. Like when your younger you get a new video game, you are so excited to start your day. I only had the feeling of dread going to work. But on the outside I was happy and I worked hard and was quite successful. Going in to my fifth year, I was feeling I needed to make big changes.

    I’m from another country and had an opportunity to start a business with my sister and her boyfriend in this foreign country. I was able to start the business while still working as he lived in the foreign country and we would ship various items for export where we are. This business has a chance for great success but to get it there, I need to be there and be more hands on.

    I was contemplating leaving my job at end of the year but during the middle of the year, a general manager at my bank who coincidentally was from the same foreign country offered me a serious promotion and an opportunity to learn from the best at their craft. This threw a serious curveball since I couldn’t leave and get this business off the ground if I took on this promotion.

    I’ve been thinking for a week what to do. Do I want this promotion and live a safe life or chase my wildest dreams and operate a successful business in a beautiful country and be able to travel more. It’s scary decision but your article has helped me to turn down the position. I already was most likely going to say no but this has helped. This incident has actually expedited the process and I will be leaving in a few months instead of at the end of the year

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow Chandraka, that really made my day!

      I’m so happy for you that you were able to make this decision and follow your heart and I’m happy for me that I was able to share this personal story (which was scary in itself) so that you could be inspired.

      If you ever get another bout of the shivers come find me on http://www.fromstartuptogrowup.com for a chat!

      All the best on your amazing adventure!

  20. Lawrence Berry

    May 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is a great article, because it shares with others the tough road to taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I experienced the same things you have mentioned here, and I think the biggest thing that hold people back from entrepreneurship or chasing what they really want in life is the fear of the unknown. When traveling down a path less traveled its very scary but it takes a person to reach a breakthrough to change.

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Entrepreneurs

5 Soft Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

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There are countless components that go into building a successful company, but soft skills act as the fundamental building blocks of a functioning business. Hard skills are considered to be job-specific, whereas soft skills are interpersonal skills, like listening and communication. 

Nearly 93% of employers said that soft skills are an “essential” or “very important” factor in hiring decisions. With the right blend of hard and soft skills, an entrepreneur is capable of great things.

Here are five soft skills that can help entrepreneurs scale their growth and lead successful ventures:

1. Confidence

A successful company starts from individual confidence. In order to motivate and inspire others, an entrepreneur must find reassurance in themselves. Other businesses and consumers will believe in your company if you consistently believe in yourself. 

Being confident also means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable— taking risks will expand your business and place you above competitors. As an entrepreneur, and leader, it’s crucial that you not only possess confidence, but exhibit it throughout every step of your business ventures.

2.Self-Awareness

It is vital that an entrepreneur have a clear insight into their personality, especially their strengths, weaknesses, thoughts,and emotions. 

When an entrepreneur is self-aware, it can lead them to beneficial partnerships and agreements. Without good self-awareness, leaders become easily persuaded and spineless. Self-awareness also includes control. Becoming overly emotional, for example, can lead to detrimental impulsive decision making. 

“Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford

3. Collaboration

From the day we begin talking, the ability to work well with others is pivotal to any project. As an entrepreneur, it is important to recognize and understand your own responsibilities. To do this, you must identify your business culture and have tools on hand to manage mutually dependent relationships. 

Active listening inspires collaboration within teams and creates learning opportunities. Without open collaboration or sharing and discussing information, the success of your business is  limited.

4. Time Management

Time is the greatest equalizer. No matter who you are or what you do, we all have the exact same amount of time in the day. Successful management of that time separates the great entrepreneurs from the bad ones. 

Entrepreneurs have many responsibilities; they are often jumping between tasks, hopping on calls, and attending events. They also tend to make every decision within the business.

It is crucial for business owners to find an organization system that works for their company and their goals. Creating a long term road map of company ambitions is an excellent way to distinguish high versus low priority initiatives. Entrepreneurs should create prioritization systems that employees can follow each month, ensuring business targets are met.

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Tony Robbins

5. Resilience

Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, unexpected hurdles and setbacks are inevitable. The process of starting a business will not be perfect. What matters most is how you progress when the outlook seems bleak. Your ability to stay tough and weather the storm speaks volumes to your leadership— and will lead to a huge payout at the end of the day. 

Maintaining entrepreneurial resilience throughout rocky times will empower your employees while simultaneously building your credibility. Resilience will also inform potential clients and customers that you are willing to fight through thick and thin.

Soft skills are the backbone of every successful entrepreneur. While hard skills like financing and marketing are crucial to conducting business, soft skills provide the essential groundwork. Developing these soft skills will come with time, mindfulness, and an eagerness to grow. Take the initiative to prioritize these skills in yourself. Once you’ve done that, you can then cultivate those same qualities in your business.

Do you think soft skills tend to be more important than hard skills in today’s business world? Share your thoughts with us below!

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The 7 Successful Habits of Entrepreneurs

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A while ago, I wrote an article on the 51 mistakes that can sabotage your business. However, that was one piece of the puzzle. You have to run your business well to be a successful entrepreneur, but, what’s more important is that you run yourself so well that your business follows suit. In order to do that, you need some good habits that can seriously boost your chances of success.

Here are the 7 must have habits that most successful entrepreneurs have:

1. Mindfully Meditate Everyday for At least 10 Minutes

Tim Ferris, who has interviewed thousands of world-class performers and entrepreneurs, says that the most common practice of all world-class performers is mindfulness meditation. There are different types of meditation, and each serves its own function.

However, mindfulness meditation is meant for controlling your mind so as to be able to focus more intensely on the task at hand. Higher focus equals higher productivity and becoming more effective at whatever you do.

Working in a distracted state leads to substandard work and also takes up more time. If you want to be able to get in the zone like most top-notch entrepreneurs, you need to mindfully meditate.

Now, there are some caveats you need to be aware of before you begin:

  1. Like medicine, mindfulness meditation has a minimum effective dose and that minimum is 10 continuous days for at least 10 minutes each day.
  2. Practice guided meditation before you try meditating on your own.

2. Read a Lot

Warren Buffett was once asked what the secret behind his wealth was. He pointed to a stack of books and said the secret was to read 500 pages like that everyday. Mark Cuban is also a voracious reader and spends almost 3 hours everyday reading in spite of being busy with his businesses. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg also read a book every week.

Now, I am not telling you to read so much everyday but at least make an effort to finish 2 books every month. This is a very common habit among the top-notch entrepreneurs and as Warren says, “knowledge builds up like compound interest.”

Also try not to read on any digital medium except that of Kindle. In spite of it being convenient to read on your phone or tab or laptop, these devices tend to distract us with their notifications and push us to other procrastinating habits.

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl

3. Keep the Phone Away, aka take a Digital Detox EVERYDAY

With multi-national companies all vying for our attention, we need to learn to use our phones less everyday. While it can be extremely tempting to open your phone while you are waiting in line or are taking an Uber ride, you should resist and embrace the boredom. This has two effects:

  1. It teaches you to sit through boring and monotonous tasks for longer periods of time and not get pulled away at the tiniest amount of distraction.
  2. It builds up your will-power and your discipline.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs try to do this and even successfully do this but they don’t build it into a habit. They do it once a week or once a month and think it will have a beneficial effect on their lives. Sadly, just like eating your vegetables once a week is a very stupid idea if you want to live a healthy life, taking a digital detox occasionally is useless.

4. Dump Coffee for Tea

Most Americans are heavy coffee consumers and can’t live their lives without coffee. But wait …The main ingredient behind coffee is caffeine which is a natural stimulant. If you take a stimulant regularly, your body adapts to the stimulant and you fail to get the benefits of coffee such as greater energy and focus which other non-regular drinkers get.

On the contrary, tea’s natural stimulant relaxes your body and enables you to put in more hours of work without the “crash” effect that coffee drinkers face. If you are up to the suggestion of making tea a part of your daily habits, I suggest you try out green tea which has 15% more caffeine than a cup of coffee. It also possesses l-theanine, which helps the consumer put in a greater state of focused awareness into his/her work.

But if you are a newbie tea drinker and can’t stand the taste of coffee (I don’t know how that’s possible though☹), try out flavored tea.

5. Sleep Around 8 Hours Daily

I think the most damaging piece of advice out there is sleep less and do more work. If you do that, all that’s going to happen is that you are going to wake up the next day feeling drowsy. The net result is that your productivity will suffer.

Also, the notion of early to bed and early to rise is not true as your biological clock may be differently tuned than that of others and your biological prime time may be late at night. However, don’t be too late to sleep as that hinders the DNA repair and as a side-effect your mental fatigue remains.

If you can’t get to sleep early, try to not use your phone or watch the TV or any sort of screen whatsoever, as the blue light can slow down your natural sleep cycle.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” – John Steinbeck

6. Take Cold Showers

You know what troubles most entrepreneurs? They’re good at planning yet it’s the execution part where almost all of them fall flat. It’s because the execution of ideas throws the harsh realities of the business world onto the face of the entrepreneurs, and they are forced to reconsider if they can actually ever succeed.

It is here that the winners get separated from the losers. And guess what separates them? Willpower. I have the best tactic to help you build it and it’s so simple too! Take cold showers early in the morning or late at night, when it is already chilled outside. If you live in a place that is hot, then this tactic may not have the intended effect on you.

However, try taking cold-showers in the winter. You will see that your brain makes all sorts of excuses so as to not go under the chilling water and if you succeed in pushing your brain to do the work, you will have succeeded. You are then, the master of your mind and not the other way around.

7. Plan and Review Daily

If you want to live a truly productive life and get things done instead of having a mounting pile of to-dos, you need to plan ahead. You need to divide your daily schedule into blocks of time and dedicate tasks to each block.

Parkinson’s Law states that the work we need to do stretches into the time we give ourselves to finish it. Therefore, if you need to get work done and don’t give yourself any time-limit or deadline, you will find your work stretching for enormous amounts of time and eating into the time reserved for other tasks.

However, when you first start planning, you will find most of your plans are utterly useless as most tasks will stretch far beyond the time you have allotted for them. This is where the second part comes along – which is to review the plans and reschedule them.

However, there is a particular style of reviewing and this is how you can go about it. First, you need to make a plan of what you intend to complete in a week and what you intend to complete in a day. Then, before going to bed every night, open your calendar and make a note regarding what you failed to complete today and how you will accommodate them into your weekly goals. This should be done before going to bed daily.

Now, it’s your turn. Share this post and spread the word. What’s the most important habit according to you? Do you have any such habits that you use? Let me know in the comments!

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Build Your Business One Brick at a Time

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A good friend and business associate once approached us asking for business advice. “I have $25,000,” he said. “How do I turn that into $50,000? Actually—wait, how do I turn one million into two million in one year?”

We looked at each other, and then we looked back at him and said “You don’t take a million and turn it into two million. It’s not that easy. There are no shortcuts in life, and there are no shortcuts in business.” We recommended he do things the old-fashioned way.

He understood—and we understood—that, of course, some people do double their money in the blink of an eye. It’s not impossible, but it’s incredibly risky. And it’s also not what we are about. We’re not promoting the Bernie Madoff model of Ponzi and phony, get-rich-quick deals; we all know how well that worked out in the end. Businesses have to have a real economic model that is built one brick at a time.

Start, Build, Sell

Growing your business is an incremental process: you start, you build, and you sell. You build more, you sell more. If you have a viable product or service that customers want, they’ll come back to you again and again. They’ll also tell their friends. 

Positive word of mouth is as important as the product itself, because it helps you continue to grow. As Albert Einstein once said (and Warren Buffet often quotes), “compounding interest is the eighth wonder of the world.”

Buffet, known as the smartest investor of the past century, invests in management teams and products he believes in through his company Berkshire Hathaway. He is also said to only invest in products that he likes and uses, and that fall in his circle of competence. Therefore, as a big holder of both their stocks, you can assume he loves Coke and McDonald’s. He also eats and drinks both regularly. Keep his investment interests in mind as you build your business.

“The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The Value of Viability and Balance

What kind of product or service you decide to build is important, too. You have to be insanely fortunate to have success selling an entirely unique product. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try, but always remember it is easier to sell a product that is easily understood. When you’re just starting out, and even if you’re not, it’s much easier to sell something people completely understand rather than an avant-garde product.

Whatever you want to try in business, whether you have a brand-new type of shop or a nail salon in a strip mall down the street from another nail salon in another strip mall, the essence is the same: work harder, work smarter, and constantly improve.

One challenge you may find at this stage of your entrepreneurial journey is the difficult task of finding balance between preparing and over preparing. As you build and sell, focus on the details, but don’t let them overshadow your big picture.

Spilling the Oil

In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes of a boy who wants to learn about happiness. The boy’s father sent him to the wisest man in the world: the sage. The boy traveled for forty days to reach the wise man, finally finding him in a bustling palace. When the boy asked for the secret to happiness, the sage responded by suggesting the boy take a walk through his palace and come back in two hours.

The sage had one additional request: he handed the boy a teaspoon with two drops of oil and instructed him not to let the oil spill as he walked the grounds. He toured the palace, his eyes never leaving the spoon. When he returned, the sage asked the boy if he had enjoyed the Persian tapestries and the intricate gardens, but the boy replied he hadn’t seen them; his eyes were focused on the spoon. Although he had spilled no oil, he had also seen none of the glories of the palace.

The sage refilled the spoon with two drops of oil, instructing the boy to savor the details of the palace. When the boy returned, he realized he’s spilled the oil, but he was able to describe in detail the colors, tastes, smells of the palace that were beyond his wildest imagination. The sage responded, “The secret of happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

The same is true in business; keep an eye on both the details and the big picture—neither of which you can do if you’re cutting corners or letting the fear of making mistakes stop you from moving forward. Fail often and fail quick. Learn from your mistakes. And, if you are smart, learn from other people’s mistakes, too.

What was your favorite tip from this article? Share your thoughts with us below!

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5 Key Skills to Grow Your Network as an Entrepreneur

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Networking is an essential and important component of the business world. However, as necessary as it may be, business people tend to dread the inevitable task. More often than not, it is because they don’t necessarily find much success throughout the arduous process. 

Surprisingly, much of the secret to networking success lies not in how successful your business is, rather, it is in the personal and character-driven skill sets and qualities of the business person or entrepreneur.

If you struggle with networking, or you’re looking to improve upon your already impressive networking skills, here are the 5 essential personal skills you need to make a lasting, positive impression:

1. Be Authentic and Genuine

Sure, being authentic and genuine isn’t necessarily a ‘skill set’ you can just acquire. There are different practices and habits you can adopt which will paint you as a more earnest and reliable business person. The best thing about adopting these practices is that it’s easy. It only requires a little bit of mindfulness and diligence.

Authenticity and being genuine start at the simplest levels. For example, when meeting a new business contact, don’t jump right into business talk. Talk to them as a person first, rather than someone you can benefit from knowing. In the end, treating someone like a friend rather than an advantageous contact will make them more likely to help and guide you.

Moreover, being genuine is typically something people can sense. Typically in the business world, people get caught up in the work aspect of things and the ‘dog-eat-dog-world’ mentality. 

While you should be looking out for your business and its success, this doesn’t mean you should walk over other people to get there. Character and management styles communicate a lot about a person, and this could turn away contacts if you’re too cutthroat.

Finally, in being authentic and genuine, be mindful of people who maybe can’t provide you with the same opportunities you can provide them. Don’t treat these people any less than the contacts that can give you plenty of opportunities. 

How you treat those who can logistically ‘do nothing’ for you is just as important as how you treat the CEO of a major corporation. This is a key component of having an authentic and likeable character when networking.

2. Make it a Two-way Street

Networking is never about one person making out better than the other party. It takes a joint effort to create a mutually beneficial and lasting business relationship. Typically, selfish people don’t create business contacts because they’re only looking to gain for themselves. The best way to nurture networking relationships is to offer something beneficial to the other party.

Based on the Robert B. Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” the principle of reciprocation instinctively kicks in and compels us to return the favor. Essentially, you will get more out of networking relationships when you offer up an attractive service, favor, product, or deal to the other party because, generally, they will feel compelled to return the favor.

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” – Keith Ferrazzi

3. Be Easy to Teach

As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably overcome a handful of trials and tribulations. It’s no secret that to be an entrepreneur you have to be cunning, clever, relentless, dedicated, and driven. 

Generally, entrepreneurs get a lot of credit, but it’s important not to let this get to your head. One important aspect of networking is not only the opportunities available presented to you, but also any lessons or words of wisdom the person offers.

Being easy to teach makes these business contacts more likely to share their experiences with you, what works, what doesn’t, and how to handle different situations. Not only are you encouraging and empowering the person giving you the advice, but you’re also taking in new perspectives and ideas to help you and your business. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

Moreover, people are more likely to connect with and help people that listen intently and recognize the validity and value of other people’s viewpoints. Receive the advice and ideas contacts give you with an open mind, and you’ll be sure to make a lasting positive impression.

4. Stay in Touch

While staying in touch isn’t necessarily a personality or character trait, it’s extremely important. Business relationships are just like any other relationship: they require constant effort, following up, and reciprocation. Very often, people exchange business cards without ever following back up. Even if the contact isn’t necessarily relevant to your business, you exchanged cards for a reason.

Essentially, you never know who they may know or what advice they may have to help you in your business endeavors. It may seem like a tedious task, but following up and staying in touch with new and old network contacts is one of the most important parts of developing and fostering healthy, beneficial business relationships.

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

5. Show your Appreciation and Gratitude

Even though networking is pretty much a universal endeavor, it never hurts to express your appreciation and gratitude to the contact you made. By simply sending a ‘thank you’ email, or better yet a ‘thank you’ card, you’re sure to gain major brownie points with the contacts in your network.

This is because gratitude and appreciation are hard to come by. Even if the act was as simple as exchanging business cards or taking time to have a coffee, you should thank the other party. Not only does it bode well for your character, but it also shows that you respect and value their time, opinions, and any help or advice they may offer.

This should also be kept in mind for contacts you have had for a while. Even if the relationship gets comfortable, it’s still important to thank them every now and again. This helps ensure that the relationship is still appreciated and valued and that neither party is taking the other for granted. By showing your appreciation, people are then more likely to continue to help you. It also might help you be more grateful overall in your day-to-day life!

Networking can seem like a daunting task however, if you go into it with genuine and mindful intentions, you could wind up meeting some fascinating people, developing long-lasting business relationships, and advancing the interests of you and your business.

Often times, formal institutions and coaching focuses on the technical aspects of networking: how to shake a hand, how to deliver an elevator pitch, what to wear, and how to speak. All these aspects are important, but they can come off rather robotic.The key to successful networking lies in the personality and genuineness of your character. 

At the end of the day, if you are shallow and selfish with your interests when networking, you’ll have a much harder time developing lasting, beneficial relationships. Being mindful and down-to-earth should be the main thing in mind when embarking on networking efforts.

How do you network with people and grow your personal brand? Share your thoughts and ideas with us below!

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