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Valuable Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur

Valuable Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur

“Entrepreneur” isn’t a title. It’s what makes you get out of bed in the morning

My name is Wendy Lieber, and I am an entrepreneur. That last word’s not a job title. It’s what I am, not what I do.

I believe it’s important to understand that “entrepreneur” can’t be what’s printed on your business card.

It’s got to be what’s buzzing away in your brain, and what’s pumping away in your heart. Open up a browser window and see if you can find any job listings for entrepreneur.

It’s an approach to life. And here are eight areas where this approach has helped me achieve big things.

1.  Focus

“When you market to everyone, you market to no one.” This gets said a lot of different ways, but there’s no mistaking the meaning. “Everyone is not your customer” is how Seth Godin puts it.

Get crystal clear about what you want to be great at and what you want to suck at. That’s my way of saying what Frances Frei means when she more eloquently says, “In order to be great you have to have the courage to be bad.” You get clear on your focus when you know your mission, vision, and values.

If the idea of crafting mission or vision statements makes your head hurt, try Cameron Herold's Painted Picture approach. It’s a great kickstarter.

2.  Hire before you think you are ready

Jack Daly puts it just right. “If you don't have an assistant, you are an assistant.” I used to try to do everything myself and never thought I had the cash flow to hire anyone. This held me back so much.

My business was transformed when I finally listened and took Jack Daly’s advice. What happened? I started spending time on things that have a real impact. You may not be able to hire full-time people to start but you can get a virtual assistant for a couple hours a week to do those tasks that you really have no business doing.

To what Jack Daily says, I would add, “What gets outsourced gets done.”

3.  Develop systems and processes for consistency and predictability

Scott Adams tells us, “Losers have goals. Winners have systems.” I’m proud to say I have no goals. There. I said it, and there were no earthquakes, nor did my hair catch on fire.

I used to reinvent the wheel every time I did something. I even convinced myself this was a good thing – because I wasn't offering cookie-cutter services. It was a classic Dilbert moment when I realized the problem with this approach.

How could I ever train anyone else to do what I did if I didn't even know what I was doing?

Systems and processes will set you free.

4.  Get out of the stands and on the court

Realtors may own “Location, location, location,” but entrepreneurs own “Actions, Actions, Actions.” What am I trying to say here? The best way to get something done is to actually do it. Or, as Govindh Jayaraman says, “Make it bad, make it better.”

Perfect is the enemy of done. Get your stuff out there. Look at it. Get feedback. Then make it better. Take actions every day. Be relentless. Don’t let resistance or inertia get the best of you, because they will!

5.  Surround yourself with a great community

A woman who nearly became President of the United States once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Hillary Clinton was talking about people smarter than you, with more experience, with different opinions. They are also who you need as an adult if you choose to be an entrepreneur.

Find them. Invite them to be a part of your network. And then be open to listening to what they tell you. Do you have to do everything they say? It didn’t work for you as a child. What matters is that you’re coachable and approachable.

Be vulnerable with your community. Share and be willing to ask for help and make powerful requests. My community, my tribe is everything to me. They help me be bigger, bolder, and braver than I think is possible.

This community is not the same as your circle of friends – even though they might sometimes overlap. Keep growing that community if it doesn’t include people who challenge you and sometimes hit your hot buttons.

6.  Mindset

Yes, it’s a buzzword. But you have the power to decide who you are going to be every day, and how you are going to show up for your family, for your team, for your customers, and for yourself. You have to be intentional about this.

THIS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY. I repeat. THIS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY.

Something in all caps may be shouting, but that’s because I truly feel strongly about this. Julia Pimsleur is a woman who probably never shouts, but she puts just as much emphasis on this warning when she says, “You are not your feelings. You cannot feel like doing something and do it anyway. Are you going to give in to your reasons or go for results?”

I use a morning ritual to help me create my day. I love the Take Action: Planner by Govindh Jayaraman. I also meditate each morning for 10 minutes, read something inspirational – and now I make my bed because of Tim Ferriss. It’s a new addition thanks to Tools of Titans, which I'm reading right now.

One more thing: I also set an intention for everything I do – meetings, phone calls, emails, everything.  I let whoever I'm with know my intention. This is transformational.

7.  Be 100% responsible for your life

You don’t need much more on this, except maybe to remember that you can always find reasons or outside factors for why you don’t succeed. What’s gained, though, by shifting the blame? Nothing. See #4 above.

8.  Embrace problems

Not having a problem is a problem. If you are up to anything worthwhile, you will have problems.

An approach to life

I have a job title. It is not “entrepreneur.” No one will hire you for that position. You can’t be promoted to an entrepreneur’s position. It’s something you bestow upon yourself. There is something about being an entrepreneur when it comes to working that’s very different than any other job.

It is your life. So, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, love your life. Take pictures of everything. Tell people you love them. Talk to random strangers. Do things that you're scared to do. Make your life the best story in the world. Don't waste it!

You won’t get a second chance, unless maybe you’re somebody like Norman Cousins. But even he endorsed the takeaway message. “The tragedy of life is not death,” he said, “but what we let die inside of use while we live."