5 Tips for New Entrepreneurs

What to focus on as an entrepreneur

When I first decided that it was time to start my own business, it felt both dangerous and dramatic <cue the Mission Impossible music>. I was going against EVERYTHING I had been raised to do and ditching my very stable 9-to-5 in exchange for some things that had become increasingly important to me: freedom and challenge.

One of my favorite memories of last year was this fantastic trip out to Colorado. Loads of hiking with friends both old and new.

One of my favorite memories of last year was this fantastic trip out to Colorado. Loads of hiking with friends both old and new.

  • “Freedom” to work from wherever, to travel as I wanted, to live overseas part-time (all of which I do! Drop into my Instagram to see some of my latest adventures), and to dive into whatever strikes my curiosity.

  • “Challenge” because without it I simply feel down. Like, really down. I needed to keep learning and growing or every day of the year would start feeling like a grey, cold February morning in New York City.

Some months I was seriously knocking it out of the park, and others felt like I had to throw out the baby with the bathwater and just start over. I was okay with that, though. I knew it would be an uphill experience and I was ready for it.

These days almost all of my clients are solopreneurs, and in our work together, I do my very best to give them the shortcuts and lessons I wish I had. And, rather than be stingy, I wanted to start paying it forward and share some of that advice with the interwebs. Let’s do it.

Stop being a perfectionist
  1. Stop Being a Perfectionist. By waiting until everything is perfect, you’re permitting yourself to not produce at the level you want to. In the words of Brooke Castillo, shoot for “B-” because the only thing that’s important is what you’re getting done. Plan ahead and allot yourself a specific amount of time for each task. Then, MOVE ON.

  2. Hire Yourself Every Day. We all have up and down days, but doing your best to be “Employee of the Month” of your own business is key. Show up the same time every day and start saying “no” to giving away your hours for free. Block out time on your calendar to work on specific projects and think in terms of what you are going to produce within that time, not how far you have to go to complete the entire project.

  3. Be Aware of Your Mental Health. Be intentional about your mental health breaks. If you need to take a half day because you’ve been burning it at both ends, take it. Better you come back in the afternoon fully charged than slumping through the entire day. You are your business: if you’re not taking care of you, no one is minding the store. (This year, I became a specialist in this. You never know when a life emergency will impact your business).

  4. Fire Yourself From Time to Time. We all know when we’re not pulling our weight, so every once in a while it’s time to fire yourself. Re-commit to your business and the change you’re looking to make for yourself and others, and re-hire the real you. You know who that is: the one who is passionate, who does what they commit to, and holds themselves accountable.

  5. Know When to Work With a Pro. We all have things we’re good at that represent our natural strengths, as well as weaknesses that we can over-focus on. According to Gallup, the best use of your time and energy is not in trying to make your weaknesses stronger, but in investing more time in your strengths, which are your "superpowers.” What you can do instead is find those who compliment your weaknesses and either partner with them or hire them. It’s not about the effort you put in, but about being highly productive (which creates momentum). Big difference. (Here’s a great example of why you should do this)

And, here’s the biggest tip to keep in mind: You’ll forget all of this soon (maybe even tomorrow). And, guess what? That’s OK.

At some point, you’ll throw all of this out the window and you’ll procrastinate, be a perfectionist, will let yourself get away with murder (figuratively, of course), will take on projects that you shouldn’t and waste massive amounts of time trying to do something that you should just leave to someone else.

I know because I still find myself falling into old habits all the time. Just last week (!) I fell under the spell of my Virgo perfectionism, which is something to behold. Hours were spent organizing things that had little importance. Guys, it was SUCH a waste.

So, be kind to yourself and remember the most important thing of all is to jump back on that horse when you fall off.

Scott Robson