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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…”

Entrepreneur

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

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I’m shocked why
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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

Want to Be an Entrepreneur? It’s Impossible Without These 3 Characteristics

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They go by many names: self-employed, 1099 Contractor, Side Hustle, CEO, Business Owner, or Agency Owner, but our favorite term is Entrepreneur. No more working for the “man!” Be your own boss, set your own hours, answer to no one is the cry of everyone that has ever had to punch a clock, ask to take a bathroom break or be elated with a 5% raise. Why would anyone want to work for someone else for 40 years when they can work for themselves and make millions?

If you could only will things into existence by belief, we’d all be the boss. With over 300 Million people living in America today, only 15 million of those are self-employed full time.

We’ve all heard of the Pareto Principle, right?  The 80/20 rule? In sales, business ownership, and entrepreneurship that means only 20% have the right skills, masteries and characteristics to succeed. My personal experience in observing thousands of other entrepreneurs makes me think Pareto might have under-promised and over-delivered. Seems as if only 5% have what it takes.

So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? I believe all the books, podcasts, blogs, webinars, and self-help seminars on this subject could be summed up with the following three simple characteristics:

1. Working Smarter and Harder than Mark Zuckerberg presenting before Congress

At the end of the day, a millionaire mindset cannot be paired with a part-time work ethic. I wholeheartedly believe that there are two types of entrepreneurs in the world: the work horses and the lame ducks.

Entrepreneurs put in more hours than anyone else. It’s mandatory to succeed. Yet, they are not empty hours wasted on non-productive activities. You have to be efficient with your time.

The lame duck entrepreneur can be described as continually using their time to do something well, that needs not to be done at all, as Brian Tracy says. They’re busy doing mundane tasks that are not sales generating activities. While a work horse entrepreneur has developed a system that focuses only on the most important sales generating activities and either eliminates everything else or delegates the rest to an assistant.

You have to have an extraordinary work ethic to make it as an entrepreneur these days. There are 1000 other guys right behind you clawing and scraping to win. Do you have the smart, dialed-in, planned out work ethic required to succeed? Do you have that drive to succeed? I hope so.

“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” – George Bernard Shaw

2. Downloading more Data than the IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence

“Always be closing” is the mantra at the sales seminar. It should be scrapped and changed to “always be learning.” Closing is easy, but if you stop learning, you won’t have the right product or service for long.

Some studies say that knowledge is doubling every 12 months. Think about that for a second. If you had truly gained mastery in a subject and waited a year or two, you’d now be a dinosaur. It’s been said that most people don’t have 20 years’ experience, but one year of experience repeated 20 times.

You have to continually be learning and staying at the forefront of your niche. Watch the early adopters, test the waters and figure out a way to improve upon what they’ve done. Find someone that has mastered an area that you want to excel in and buy their course, attend their seminar, or read their book.

Experience is a teacher, but it’s a difficult way to learn. Find those that have trail blazed the path before you and implement what they tell you to do. Every successful entrepreneur has had dozens if not hundreds of mentors over their lifetime. It’s been said that your net worth is equal to your network. To succeed you have to continually hit the books.

3. Treat your Finances like you are Warren Buffet’s Hedge Fund Manager

Guess what? You can have the strongest work ethic in the world, you can watch every YouTube video and listen to every podcast created for your niche, but if you’re broke all the time, you’ll never succeed. You have to have some money to make money.

Now what I’m about to tell you used to be common sense because it’s very basic, but balancing a checkbook, creating a budget, spending your money wisely is no longer common knowledge. If you do not have a budget written out, that accounts for every dollar coming in and every dollar going out, then you are doing life wrong! Look up a simple online budget and put it all on paper.

Make a budget for your personal finances. Then start a business checking account. Drop in as much operating capital as you can. Then, create your budget for your business. Write it all down. Take what you’ve learned from your mentors and apply your exemplary work ethic and go make some money.

Pay yourself a meager salary until you have enough money saved in your business account to pay cash for a mid-sized sedan. Then give yourself a raise! Learn what your cost per acquisition is and pull that lever over and over again.

Be willing to invest in your business. Buy the courses and materials needed to grow in your niche. Investing in your business wisely and prudently is the only way to scale up your business and be truly successful.

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

There’s a reason that the richest 1% own half the world’s wealth. They have the drive to work harder and smarter than anyone else, they’ve invested in the best mentors and coaches, and are continually learning to stay on the cutting edge in their field. Additionally, they’ve mastered the simple money management skills that are necessary to fund the whole endeavor. Do you have what it takes?

Which one of the above 3 characteristics do you think is the most important to succeed? Share your thoughts below!

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Entrepreneurs

9 Reasons Why Attending Networking Events is Crucial for Entrepreneurial Success

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No matter how big or small your business is, as an entrepreneur, you must attend as many industry-relevant networking events and conferences as possible. Communicating with other like-minded and motivated people can take your business to the next level and lead to startup success.

Shockingly, 30% of new businesses don’t make it past the first 24 months. By attending networking events and conferences, you can acquire the tools required to ensure your business doesn’t fall into this percentage. Essentially, attending events could save your business. What’s more, most networking events and conferences are free or incredibly low budget.

If you’re still on the fence about attending events, here are 9 of the most notable benefits for your startup:

1. To learn from the best

No entrepreneur, no matter how talented they are, can possibly know everything about everything. Attending networking and conference events is a chance to learn from other entrepreneurs who have been in similar positions and learn from their gains and their loses.

2. To create contacts

In today’s digital world, where most communication happens online, there’s nothing more valuable than face-to-face interaction. Networking events allow for these valuable interactions and to create contacts. The good thing about networking events is that they often allow for speed networking, allowing for multiple interactions in a set period of time. By partaking, you can massively extend your network base.

3. To generate customers

Depending on the type of networking or conference event, and the services you offer, you may find customers. A good way to generate customers at an event is by engaging in discussions about your services and by presenting in front of the crowds.

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye

4. To learn about the industry

Often, entrepreneurs are too busy growing their business that they forget to see the wider industry and disruption can come as a major surprise. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be prepared and attending events can shine a light on any industry changes, giving you time to plan and prepare ahead.

5. To find partners

Networking and conference events often have a specific topic and theme. Therefore, the people that attend the event are usually in a similar industry and have much in common. These events are perfect for finding new business partners by finding people that complement the services you offer. It can be useful talking to competitors too as you can potentially work together for an optimised version of a project.

6. To meet investors

The best way to engage the attention of an investor is by speaking directly to them. Face-to-face conversations can build trust and begin the foundation for a future relationship. Investors often attend networking and conference events to get to know the up-and-coming businesses in the industry.

7. To be inspired

Once you start networking with like-minded people it’s easy to find creativity, be inspired and come up with new ways to advance your business. You will come away from the event with new ideas and a new lease of life on your business.

8. To build recognition

Recognition can be one of the biggest obstacles for a start-up. Online marketing may not have the desired outcome if you don’t spread the word effectively. Networking is a great opportunity to meet potential customers and build recognition by engaging on your product or services. Most networking events allow for startups to stand or pitch in front of attendees which is a great opportunity to build recognition around your product or service.

9. Because you’ve got nothing to lose

No matter what industry you’re in, you’re guaranteed to pick up something when attending a networking or conference event. From making valuable connections to finding out what customers think of your product, there are many benefits to events.

“Behind every successful person there are many successful relationships.” – Joe Apfelbaum

From gaining inspiration to learning about the industry, building recognition to generating valuable connections, networking and conference events are crucial for event success. However, turning up to an event is simply not enough. You must put as much effort in as possible by talking to as many people as you can.

When networking, get out of your comfort zone and engage with people of all job levels and all industries. When it comes to business, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

Once the event has ended, always follow up with your new connections via an email, phone call or LinkedIn message. It’s important to get in touch while you’re fresh in the mind of your connection to lay the foundation of future cooperation. Lastly, always remember events are fun and never take them too seriously.


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6 Creative Ways to Hype Up a New Product on Social Media

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It’s the week before the big product launch, and you’ve been asked to help with a big marketing splash. The problem is despite brainstorming for a few weeks and pushing out a few tweets to build the pre-launch buzz, you’re out of ideas. But merely wondering how to help the new product capture the minds of prospects and customers doesn’t really help.

Here are 6 creative things you should consider to generate excitement for your product in the target market:

1. Create a goal

Don’t limit your awareness program to merely “make people aware” of the product. Go beyond the ideal definition and expand it. There has to be a goal that assists you to measure the success of your program.

This goal can be the number of followers you drive to your webpage, or probably the ones who sign up for more updates. Find out what other options work best for you and let them guide you through the awareness campaign. The key is to make it measurable and ensure if your website is any good; it is fully geared to be not much more than a giant lead magnet.

2. Sell smart, not hard

No matter how much effort you put in, if you don’t do it smart, they’ll lead you to failure. Just because you are leveraging social media, doesn’t imply you can aim in the dark and wait for the arrow to hit the target miraculously. Make sure you very well know the problems that you are trying to solve.

Analyze the people affected by those issues and what attracts them. Leverage social media, but target your buyer personas. New products are often a great time to reconnect with existing clients and prospects. A fantastic way to do this is by getting your sales team to share the content and measure the engagements and click-through rate. Once you have the comparative view handy, you can make the most of social platforms.

“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas

3. Strike a chord

Personalization is the key to hit the sweet spot in the hearts of buyers. Have the sales team personalize the message. Give your employees the chance to explain the value to their networks.

Write high-level social copy for the various vertical markets you serve and then set the team lose in honing the conversation online. Done effectively, the click-through rate can go through the roof!  

4. Build engaging content

Consider buyer personas while drafting the social copy of your content. And take note, we are referring to buyer personas, not a persona. It includes more than one streak of your ideal buyers.

Invest time in understanding the critical aspect of each of them. Make sure you know what your product has to offer to each of them and translate that understanding to explain this value proposition. The better you do at segmenting the message, the more clicks and engagements your content will produce.  

5. Don’t reveal too much

Sometimes, marketers get carried away and unveil too much of the information in the pre-launch phase itself. What is left for the final big reveal? Apparently nothing but the product itself. And mind you, dear friend, curiosity killed the cat because she could not withhold it. Why not leverage this mentality for your product marketing as well?

Build anticipation and create mystery around the product. Drop hints, create hype but make sure you have some excitement reserved for the actual launch. Don’t disclose every significant twist.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis

6. Narrate a story

Compelling narratives are a powerful way to engage people with your product even before it hits the shelves. Let the existing buyers talk about their experience with your current products. Not only will it talk about your offerings, but it’ll also highlight the positive relationship with existing clients. That’s something that can pay dividends when building a bond with the new ones. Additionally, you receive attention from followers of the customers you are showcasing.

Is your product launch is just a few days ahead, and you need to create product hype on social media? Well, it is quite a task to make the pre-launch ripples. But these six creative strategies can help you get the job done effectively. Use these ideas to showcase the hard work your product team has done and ensure a successful product launch.

Which one of the above 6 ways to market a product do you believe is most important and why? Share your thoughts below!

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5 Skills I Learned in the Military That Helped Me Become a Successful Entrepreneur

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The moves I’ve made in my career from the military, to the mining industry, to running a multinational business in Latin America, aren’t linear. It’s not every day an ex-Australian military officer finds their niche in Latin American business.

Graduating from Australia’s Royal Military College and Defense Force Academy, I served as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army for nearly 11 years, completing operational tours to Central Asia and the Middle East.

The transition from various Army engineering and infantry roles through to managing a team of legal and financial executives was neither quick nor painless. But, as I entered the company formation process, I found my military service played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial fitness. The skills I developed in the Australian Defense Force supported me through several commercial iterations more than once.

Here are some of the key connections I drew between core military values and those I apply to the boardroom environment:

1. Be calculated and decisive

Unsurprisingly, a crucial requisite of military functionality is working quickly and effectively under pressure. This rings especially true for the strategic planners of operations: the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

My military role made tough demands on me to decide on the best course of action for myself and my team. When deployed overseas, making the wrong decision or not making a decision fast enough could mean failing our mission, and putting people in danger.

In business, it’s vital to understand, analyze and communicate the risks involved in the options laid out before you at various stages. Making offers to clients, moving into a new market, investing large amounts of money into projects. And decisions need to be made based on this analysis before these opportunities pass by.

I can confidently draw on my experiences in service to act fast and capitalize on opportunities as they become available, and make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn

2. Resilience is key

Resilience is fundamental to success in any military career. In training and on operations, one soldier’s spiralling morale could put an entire section in danger. Military personnel are vetted for their adaptability and mental strength from day one, using tried-and-true techniques to push people to their limits.

Having a high level of resilience allows you to cope when things don’t go to plan in business. Investments might not show returns as quickly as hoped, a competitor snatches up an important client, or a difficult situation arises between staff that needs careful management.

I can confidently draw on military-learned techniques to support my own and others’ resilience in the office. Being able to maintain a high level of morale among teams fosters productivity and a willingness to ‘soldier on’ in challenging situations.

3. Leadership and cooperation

People in leadership positions are those that others turn to for advice and support. As a leader, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions that others can’t or won’t. A high-performing team has a courageous, empowering, and communicative leader at its helm.

This is as true in the military as it is in business. Building the right team and driving them to success is both challenging and rewarding – whether the outcome is securing a key logistical foothold to allow aid and other supplies to travel into a war-torn area, or seeing a newly-opened office secure its first major client.

4. Discipline

Not every soldier has an easy time appreciating the ubiquity of drills in their military workplace, nor their role in underpinning the success of a smooth operation. But a lack of discipline is tantamount to putting oneself and others at risk. Ignoring lawful orders, or not applying proper first-aid to a fellow soldier, are a couple of examples of this.

To me, commercial discipline means being professional always, even in stressful or frustrating situations. Maintain integrity in everything you do, and don’t cut corners. Carrying out proper legal and financial procedures means staying compliant under local law, and avoiding complications with authorities.

Staying committed to an objective and refusing to drop standards enables you to build a credible reputation for your business that clients hold in high regard.

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest, we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett

5. Cultural awareness

Finally, but no less importantly, showing respect for cultural customs in business is essential for cultivating strong professional relationships. Being aware of your cultural background, and sensitive to those of others, will help build social connections, and make you more relatable to others.

Foreign militaries operating in troubled parts of the world understand that building trust with local individuals and communities is imperative. Without that trust, moving around becomes difficult and more dangerous. To gain trust, soldiers must show respect for people’s culture and way of life.

The same is true in business. A small hiccup such as not shaking hands, or giving an air-kiss to a new acquaintance here in Latin America could start an entire working relationship off on the wrong foot. Cultural sensitivity shows a willingness to embrace people and their society. Never underestimate the significance people place on this element when evaluating your suitability as a professional partner.

It’s no secret that commercial success requires passion, hard work, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to call upon your own and others’ previous experiences to find solutions to problems or forge ahead with complex projects. For military personnel considering testing out their business acumen, be confident that your years of service to your country have also set you up for success in the world of business.

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