9 Things I Learned Since Starting My Own Business
It’s been some time since I quit my job back in 2015 to start my own business in real estate and wow, it’s been one hell of a ride so far. I’ve experienced both success and failure and it’s only just the beginning! I’ll admit, I love when I’m on fire and pushing the right buttons to make my business grow the way I envisioned, but on the flip side, there’s a TON of things I wish I learned about starting a business before I decided to leave a guaranteed paycheck every other week. Aside from the obvious benefits of starting a business such as a flexible schedule and higher earning potential, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These benefits may not even kick in right away – as a matter of fact, you will have an extremely flexible schedule, and that’s simply because you won’t have any business to begin with!
There are 9 things I learned since my jump into the world of entrepreneurship. Do I regret not learning this information prior to the plunge? Nope. The point is, you make a mistake, then correct it. The successful person you are looking to become will have to learn what to do and, more importantly, what not to do in order to become that very individual. You’ll only learn through experiences whether a success or failure. Here’s what else I learned.
1. You can do whatever you want, just have a plan!
Before I explain, let me tell what I’m NOT referring to when I say you can do whatever you want. This isn’t a “You can do it Johnny!” motivational piece. What I’m referring to is literally being able to create your future with a pen and paper. It’s not so much about writing your goals down, but SEEING it written down helps you visualize a little better. When you’re able to visualize, you can FEEL the emotion of what it would feel like to accomplish that goal. Feeling that emotion which will cause you to take action towards that goal. The very last piece to the puzzle is easy, completely forget about how you’re going to accomplish the goal. Why do I say that? If you’re setting any great business goals that are worth pursuing, they won’t be accomplished in a short amount of time. Therefore, don’t get caught up with trying to figure out how you’re going to get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. Just have a plan and work your plan. You’ll be able to adjust on the way.
I want to make sure I’m clear on this topic. I AM suggesting that you have a plan to guide you on your journey towards your business goals, just don’t get caught up on how all of your plans will come to fruition during the process. Some plans will work, others will have to be adjusted and then re-executed.
I drove myself crazy my first year in business trying to figure out how, how, how?! Then I found out that worrying about how causes inaction. What I’ve learned is to just go! Take action on the very first thing and doors will start to open. That’s how you get from A to B and B to C as you progress towards your goals. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Maybe this is all that “Law of Attraction” stuff, I’ve been reading over the years so I apologize for making this seem like magic, it’s not. It’s just that certain people, circumstances, and events seem to happen at the right time when you’re taking action. I’ve witnessed this myself so now I’m a true advocate for this type of mentality.
Another component to this topic is understanding what’s realistic or not. Starting a business in real estate opened my mind to a whole new world of reality. Since I am solely responsible for growing my business and making it extremely profitable, I have to rely heavily on creating my future, I had to get rid of my limiting beliefs about what’s “realistic.” Nothing is realistic to me anymore, it just hasn’t been created yet.
2. Having only an entrepreneurial spirit won’t get you far.
When you first start on your journey to building a successful business, you are going to want to try EVERYTHING under the sun to help your business grow. For example, early on I made the decision I was going to build my business via, door knocking, cold calling, open houses, sphere of influence, direct mail, social media, this and that, this and that! I was never able to develop a system or method to the madness. I was inconsistent with those actions and found myself not being able to build the forward momentum I needed to excel. Now, I’ve narrowed down those activities to a few which I can do on a consistent basis. Safe to say my results have changed and will continue to change.
Whether you’re in real estate or running a hair salon, you’ll need one thing and one thing only to succeed.
Identify a few ways to attract customers and then focus only on those actions with consistency and discipline. As you grow, you will be able to scale and add more to your plate.
I’ll also admit when I first started working for myself, every morning I was waking up on cloud 9 simply because I was running my own show – at least until the checks stopped coming in.
I had forgotten I was running a business!
I didn’t even realize that by me quitting my job, that I now had to run every department of my business. Meaning I had to be the president for the vision, the CEO for growth, the marketer to attract business, the salesman to close deals, the customer service rep to make my clients extremely happy, the accounting department to ensure my numbers were right, and so on and so forth.
While I eventually will outsource majority of those departments and just focus on what I do best, it all still needs to be done now in order to grow to that point.
3. Immediate profits have to be reinvested.
This can make the first few years seem like an eternity! The same way you grow as a person by reinvesting in your education and personal development, your business while require constant reinvestment in order to continue scaling to new heights. Especially in the marketing area.
I started cashing paychecks and once again, forgot I was in business for myself. Although they are bigger checks, I treated those paychecks like W2 checks – as if they were going to keep on coming.
As you can expect, that doesn’t increase momentum and therefore causes an inconsistency of income in the beginning.
4. Business is another sport.
Business is like a professional sport. It’s competitive, it’s rough, and if you’re not prepared mentally, you’ll get really down when building your business starts to kick your ass. That’s the sad reality of business. To be honest, you get knocked down more often than not.
Since I was very close to making the NBA, (I actually had no chance), entrepreneurship has given me a second opportunity to get back into the high adrenaline sport of business. Closing a deal for my clients is like hitting a go-ahead bucket in the 4th quarter with 3 seconds left to go. Meeting a great new client is like hitting a James Harden euro-step to the ooh’s and aah’s of the crowd. When I see a plan I implemented come to fruition, it’s like being the coach, drawing up the last play to win the game, and then watching your team execute it flawlessly.
If you’ve ever played a sport, the sport of business will bring you right back to your glory days.
At the same time, remember those games/meets/matches when you simply just got your ass kicked by your opponent? Business is the same way! Other individuals will be better than you and they will show and prove themselves every time. The good part is, you’re never in competition with anybody else except yourself. Business will make you train hard as hard as your goals demand.
5. The Theory of Time Management
You’ll never look at time the same way again. I knew about the whole “time is money” thing, but that really intensified when I started my own business. The main reason why is because majority of your time should be spent growing the business and servicing others, the two activities that generate sales for your company. With distractions all around you, you’ll have to stay prudent when it comes to your priorities for the day/week/month. There’s never enough time to do everything, but always enough time to do the things that matter the most.
Especially since it’s a lot of work, and I mean, a LOT of work. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to take a lot of work, but at the same time, I still underestimated how much work is involved running your own show. Especially in the very beginning when you’re a one man team. Even when you’re not working you’ll find yourself thinking about your business and new ways to build your company. You never really stop “working.” There’s always something that can be done to push your business forward and it’s up to you to manage your time wisely to get those things done and still have time for the other very important areas of your life (family, relationships, spirituality, hobbies, community service, etc).
I’ve read a few books on time management and they all seem to say the same thing. “There’s no such thing as time management,” and I agree, there isn’t. There’s only personal management. You can’t control time, but you can control your actions for the day. The fact is, things pop up and other urgent matters appear in the day which drain your time.
The best times to do your most important work is either really early in the morning or really late at night. Both when the majority of people are sleeping. The book The One Thing, by Gary Keller talks about how the rest of world wakes up around 11am or so. Not waking up from sleep, but it’s around this time that you usually start receiving the most amount of attention from the day. Responding to clients, solving problems, meetings, and business lunches are some things that can make time speed by if you’re not conscience.
Prioritizing your actions will be the difference between moving your business forward and spinning your wheels. At some point, I’m pretty sure we’ve told ourselves “wow, I got absolutely no work done today,” yet, you were at the office getting some things done. It’s not that we literally go into the office, sit down, not left a finger, and go home and say this to ourselves. We say that when we know that we didn’t complete any major tasks for the day. Even if you knock out 3 major tasks, you’ll feel better about your day than doing a dozen menial tasks. This leads me to me to the next thing I’ve come to learn.
6. Your productivity is based on your energy level – which may not always be high.
In order to really go out there and crush it, you’ll need to be extremely productive and in order to be extremely productive, you have to have the energy to do so. More importantly, the energy to do the things you don’t want to do in order to move your life and business forward.
Sometimes, you just won’t have the level 10 energy that you need to perform at your best. The days you’re feeling on top of the world, take advantage of those positive feelings to get great work done which gives you great results back.
Just how I mentioned that business is like a sport, you can become be on fire or cold as ice. Even the greatest athletes sometimes go through slumps, and you will go through the same in business, just don’t stay there. Make adjustments and keep exceeding.
7. Stress now becomes a useful feeling.
Stress has such a negative connotation to it. There are two types of stress: Distress and Eustress. People mainly refer to distress when they say “I’m stressed.” That belief starts to change in business. You’ll learn what type of stress you’re under. Distress is negative and Eustress is positive. You begin to look at eustress as the emotional force that is the disconnect between where you are and where you want to be, who you are and who you want to be, and even what you have and what you want. Stress is usually self-induced and therefore can be put to work against itself if we can train ourselves to do so. To be clear, this is not discussing any type of stress caused from psychological or emotional damage. There are those who experience an extreme amount of stress due to catastrophic events that have occurred in their lives. They are individuals who are in need of medical and therapeutic attention. I’m not referring to these individuals when I say that the majority of stress is self-induced.
Nonetheless, the power of positive, healthy stress levels can act as the gravitational pull that inches you closer to your personal and business goals.
8. Uncle Sam and lenders look at you totally differently now.
So I’ll admit. I completely overlooked this part when I made the decision to quit my job to build my business. I was simultaneously giving up a portion of my credit worthiness if I wanted to apply for a credit card, mortgage, or loan. Most lenders would like to see at least 2 years’ worth of tax returns when you’re an independent business owner, and with the first two years being a complete mystery, it’s up to you to produce. To be honest, if I had the opportunity to do things differently, I probably would have bought an investment property first, then quit my job. I had more than enough in savings to support myself if something were to go wrong.
One of the perks of being an independent business owner is that you’ll receive the full amount of your check up front. The downside to that is that you receive your entire check up front. It’s easily tempting NOT to put the money aside you’ll need for taxes come next tax season. Not to mention it will now become both an art and a science to claim as much as you can on your taxes while also making the proper tax write-offs. It’s real easy to claim many things as a tax write-off in an attempt to hold onto most of your money, just be prepared for that to affect your adjusted income which is the number lenders will look at when you apply for loans.
While this is something you would probably hire an accountant to do for you, it is in your best interest to understand how your taxes and income are now different from a W2 employee.
9. You really have to be in it for the long haul
Last, but certainly not least, the understanding of being in it for the long haul. We all know that success doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a totally different story when you’re in the position of being the sower, but not yet the reaper. Your faith gets tested more often than not and you learn that it’s your failures, not your successes, that propel you forward. As you head toward your future greatness, each challenge will just be another door in which you need the key. That key might be a new connection, a newly developed habit/skill, or even the release of a bad habit. When you overcome a challenge, the key opens up a door to yet another challenge. The more doors your able to open, the closer you get to your future rockstar self.
All that to say….
I have no regrets about leaving my job and starting a business. I have no regrets about the massive amount of work for very little pay in the beginning. I have no regrets about all the failures, mistakes, and setbacks. I have no regrets for my future failures and tribulations. It will be interesting to see what I learn after my 3rd, 5th, and 10th years of being in business. One thing I love about being in business is the euphoric feeling that you create when you work extremely hard on building the business. It makes you want to get up even earlier, stay later, and see what other big goals you can accomplish. Being in business for yourself makes you never want to settle for anything short of perfect. Being in business for myself was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Have you had the thought of starting your own business? Currently in business? Comment on your experiences below!