Our society tends to celebrate entrepreneurs as super-human heroes – individuals who venture off the beaten path to build billion dollar companies from their garages; bring brilliant ideas to life and ride waves of larger-than-life luck. But I’m not super-human, brilliant, lucky, or any of the things that people associate with entrepreneurship. My secret weapon, really, is that I love to learn. I approach my business in the same way that I would while working for an organization. This technique has taught me some pretty interesting tips for success. Here are just a few of them:
1 – Surround yourself with people who’re building different types of businesses
The beauty of entrepreneurship is that there are so many styles and personalities out there. The process of starting a business is a self-made journey, and everyone who has done it seems to put his or her own spin on it. Even though I have a thriving business, I still consider myself an entry-level entrepreneur. As I think about ways to grow my company, I find it important to stay aligned with people who are very different than I am.
It’s this diversity that helps me get outside my own head and tackle challenges more creatively and effectively. The more I learn to think like other people, the more confident I feel as a decision maker.
2 – Let yourself make mistakes
I don’t try to make mistakes. They just happen, and when they do, my natural inclination is to beat myself up over them. For the first six months of running my business, I was extremely hard on myself. If a client was unhappy, or something didn’t go right, my emotions would spiral out of control. But today, the storm has calmed. Mistakes still hurt, but they now hurt a lot less.
What I’ve realized is that my company’s journey is one that will span years, rather than months or weeks. Every mistake I make is an investment into my learning experience as an entrepreneur. In other words – when I do dumb things, my business processes get smarter.
3 – Reinvent yourself on a continuous basis
I firmly believe that entrepreneurship can be a long-term career choice, and in my lifetime, I would like to start multiple companies. To help achieve that goal, I identify areas within my business and skillset that I can build upon. I then commit time to learning as much as I can about a very focused area.
For example, I think that in the next few years, data visualization is going to be extremely important for my target market of B2B organizations. With a background in content marketing and statistics, I am well positioned to grow my company as a data storytelling business. Even though I am in my busiest quarter, I signed up for a visual design course with General Assembly, a web development school. It takes me an hour and a half to drive to class and $20 to park twice a week – but I still do it because I think it offers the best design course around.
I have no idea where my journey as an entrepreneur will take me. But I know that I’m going to stick with it, keep trying new things, and go as far up the “mountain” as I can. At the end of all of this, the biggest lesson I can impart to you is that you should learn how to learn. I think that is a feat of which everyone is capable.
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