Thursday, May 3, 2012

First Year Survival Guide

I always thought I would make a great entrepreneur because of my vast experience, skills, and education. I look GREAT on paper! Combined with the self-employment course I took – I envisioned an easy flow to my days. During the first year I learned quickly that looking good on paper doesn’t cover it all, nor did the course I took. Here are the top 6 “realities” I picked up along my journey. I wish someone had shared these with me to help reduce my anxiety and improve my efficiency:

1) The Golden Rule 

Everything will cost at least twice as much and take five times longer to do than what you think. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but do prepare your mind and your bank account for things not to go as planned. Technology will break down, traffic will make you late for meetings, and the one littletinymicroscopic admin thing will take you an entire day. A small business is a vacuum. Time and money seemingly disappear. Make a budget for both – then double it!

2) Get Your Systems In Place NOW 

Spend the money and take the time to do it now, then quality test it. Nothing is worse than being up until 3am because you’re trying to figure out how to get a promised invoice to someone before 9am and your software isn’t working properly. The first year you will be working ON your business more than you are working IN it.

3) Build A Mental And Emotional Support Network 

One other than close friends and family; they tend to be too emotionally invested and their support can be biased. Connect to mentors, other entrepreneurs and people you meet at networking events and social media groups, as all of this helps. I have heard from many entrepreneurs that they are SO surprised when people withdraw their support temporarily or permanently because you can’t make it to the game, or a dinner party, or the park…etc. You need additional outside support, and you will need it daily.

4) Networking And Social Media 

I LOVE social media. However here is the key – it is only the mortar that keeps you cemented to your contacts between speaking – not the bricks. The only way to truly make a contact of value is to do that face-to-face in person, on the phone, or Skype. Build a tribe of people you authentically connect to and know – building a list of people who neither care nor really know about your business is futile. Networking is all about creating a connection to people who like you and want to see you succeed.

5) Research, Research, Research, ACTION! 

 Getting three opinions or perspectives on a business activity is enough for you to marry that information with your intuition and take action. Results from action are the only things that will validate if what you are doing is on track. Make informed decisions, but also recognize that being an entrepreneur is all about taking calculated risks. There are no failures, only feedback and new information to shift your next actions.

6) Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Brag about them; let your support network know. This keeps your energy up and your mind programed to the positive and productive things. Successes may be thin the first year, so stretch them out.

Everyone will have their own unique experience; however the one thing that binds us together is that every day is a new experience. And even when we are in a challenge, there are rewards. The reward of experience, knowledge, renewed courage, and most of all – the reward of being able to share all of it! 

Connie Augustus is a Vancouver based Career Coach, Life Strategist and avid Neuroscience Practitioner. She loves connecting to business owners and continues her own entreprenuerial journey. She invites you to join her at