Almost every entrepreneur that’s successful in their first business, eventually goes into another business. Almost every entrepreneur that fails in their first business, does the same.
A lot of fear goes into doing this. Everyone tells you what can go wrong, just like they did the first time around. You also think you have to learn a whole new business,and what could be scarier then that?
It took me a long time to realize that once you’ve been in a successful business, you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new. You don’t have to totally learn a new business, you already know 80 to 90% of what you need to know.
Every business has to deal with many of the same things; we all have bank accounts, accountants, lawyers, insurance, employees and the list goes on and on. All we need to learn is the new service or commodity that we’re selling. So if you realize that you already know 80 to 90% of what you need to know, that should take the fear away.
In my last blog I talked about isolating myself when I have situations that I can’t work out and taking time alone to try to work them out. Many times I came up with the answers I needed, but not always, sometimes you just need someone else to talk to.
We almost always think we’re alone in our first venture, but in reality, every other entrepreneur in their first venture is in the same position. About a year after I started my first business and looked like I was on my way to a heart attack, I got lucky and a very successful businessman gave me an idea that I used for years. He told me to find 4 to 6 people that were also in their first venture and try to get together every month. Every month one person would share what they were having the hardest time solving and that night’s discussion would be to give them as many different ideas as we could. We helped each other move forward through many situations that seemed impossible.
Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
No matter how many times you take a step backwards, there is always a way to move forward again. Many times things seem impossible; you don’t have enough money, resources, etc, the list goes on and on and on.
Successful entrepreneurs are creative, they can think their way through every situation. You have to ask for help when it’s necessary. You can’t avoid the issue, you must take action.
When things are really rough, I put myself in a situation where I can’t be bothered unless there’s a real emergency for a whole day. I know this is old school but I take out some paper and I write what I have to solve on the top of it, then I start writing down whatever comes to my mind. I do this for 2 or 3 hours, I never look at any thing I’ve written until I think I have nothing left to say.
I’ve found that when I read it back there’s a lot of pretty bad ideas, but there’s always some thoughts that could be solutions. I then spend the rest of the day going over those thoughts and refining them until I decide my next move.
If you allow your self to get frozen and not do anything you will fail. That’s not what entrepreneurs are about.
Last time I talked about your expectations from your employees. The conclusion is the business is your dream, not theirs, but there is a way to make them want to help you to achieve your dream.
One of the fears of entrepreneurs when they first start out is losing good employees. It took me many years to learn that everybody is replaceable, even us eventually.
One of the most important and satisfying things I’ve learned about employees is that if you help them reach their goals, even if it means they’re going to leave you, they will work much harder to help you reach your goals while they’re with you. It is the best way I’ve learned to get the full potential from my key employees.
With this plan, both you and your employees get what they need. What could be better?
As entrepreneurs, we get in a lot of trouble when we don’t realize that no one cares about the success of our business as much as we do. We forget that the rest of the world doesn’t have our passion and determination for our business. Our business life and personal life, if we even have one, are intermingled.
The problem is our expectations are way too high for our employees, we forget that it’s our dream, not theirs. Many times we lose great employees because they don’t live and breathe our business every hour of every day. When we don’t realize that that they don’t care as much as we do, we alienate them, and that includes the people that are doing a great job.
We have to realize that they’re supposed to have a personal life, we’re the ones that chose our path.
When we’re young, one of our favorite things to do is gossip about everybody, we’re very seldom careful about what we say and we never think of repercussions.
As we grow older, much of our gossip comes back to haunt us. Many people find out what we said and it strains relationships. I can tell you from experience, that in business a lot of harm can be done because of gossip and complaining.
I’ve learned that it’s a very small world, you never know when you’re talking to someone, who they know or might be friends or relatives of.
The lesson is simple. Be defensive in what you say because you never know who’s going to hear it.
Years ago when I was an absolutely crazy person and ended up having 2 heart attacks in 4 years, I was lucky enough to find a good therapist. I was only 43 and 47 when the heart attacks happened.
After explaining that in order to do everything I wanted to do, I would need about 25 days in a week, he said you better get used to the fact that 7 days is all you get, you have to get your priorities in order.
The smartest lesson I learned is that everything can’t be at the top of the list. In the beginning entrepreneurs never realize this, in fact, if they don’t learn this they must fail.
Remember that the one thing you can’t change is that 7 days a week is all you get.
Almost every entrepreneur starts their business without enough capitol, this leads to one of the largest reasons so many businesses fail, which is that you can’t afford to pay the right person for each job so you hire a warm body. That’s somebody that is just there but can’t perform like they’re supposed to.
It’s hard enough to make payroll and pay rent a lot of the time, it’s worse when your employees don’t have the abilities you need. When we don’t have enough cash, it’s really difficult to make good decisions, our time is spent on how to survive.
From a lot of experience I know that if you don’t have enough cash to pay for the proper employees, you have to do it yourself; If you don’t, the chance of survival is going to be slim.
One of the very hardest lessons that I ever learned is that our bodies and minds need downtime. I used to be a type A personality. I had to be involved in everything and I was the only one that knew how to do it.
My first heart attack was in 1985. I was 43 years old. My second was in 1989 when I was 47. My doctor told me that if I didn’t change, I should get my affairs in order because I wouldn’t be living much longer.
It took time, but I finally realized that other people could do things and I needed time off to regenerate my mind and body every now and then. Now when I go on vacation my employees know to call me only if there’s an emergency.
The definition of an emergency: if the business burns down, that’s not an emergency, the insurance company will be there when I get back. The only real emergency is if something happens to someone I love or to my dog.
Downtime must be taken when you need it or you’re not going to function properly and probably won’t live as long as you’re supposed to.
I was taught that the customer is always right. After many years, I realize that it’s not always true, here are 3 examples:
- If the customer has unrealistic expectations you will never be able to satisfy them and you would be better off letting them go somewhere else.
- If the customer doesn’t let you make a profit you’re obviously better off without them.
- If the customer abuses you and your employees, you don’t need them, there are a lot of nice people to deal with.
Remember, you’re in business to make a profit, not just to trade dollars. You also have to enjoy yourself, so you must make your place of business a happy environment. So, if a customer won’t let you make a profit or is abusive, just tell them to move on.