Nobody told me the psychological impact of starting, running and building a business would have. Nobody mentioned the huge personal development that would occur by leaving the corporate world to go into a small business.

You can’t help but grow (intellectually, emotionally and spiritually) when you’re stretching yourself beyond what you think are your limits and beyond what you think is possible. My foray into business is coming to its ten year anniversary, and I’ve been reflecting on the lessons learned. Lessons I’ve heard from others and what I’ve experienced first hand. The ones below made the short list. Do you recognise any of these?

You will stuff up.

You will make mistakes but enjoy it and get on with it quickly. They’re not worth much of your time and effort other than to learn the relevant lessons.

Don’t take on what others say.

Listen, filter and determine for yourself that it is a right for you before you accept it as truth.

Get clear on what you REALLY want.

Steer clear of what is expected or accepted by others, society, the business community and even your peers.

Be you, no body else.

It’s just not worth the anguish of trying to fit in. Remember, your just not that kind of person.

Be kind to yourself.

The journey will be arduous at times and you won’t need any added pressure from yourself.

A strong drive is great.

It’s enormously useful, except when you burn out.

Manage your energy along with managing your time.

This will have a greater impact, on your personal productivity, then one of them alone.

Enjoy the mental downtime.

There will be times your brain and body will be functioning at high levels and other times not.

Recharge often.

Your drive will kick into a higher gear and you’ll go powering ahead again.

Give yourself breaks and holidays.

The amount of fresh and exciting ideas will explode and reenergize you.

Don’t try and please everyone, you can’t.

Trying will end up pleasing nobody and will exhaust, disappoint and frustrate the hell out of you.

Focus on creations.

Bringing something into reality that’s of value to others, will also be, enormously rewarding for yourself.

Just because others do it, doesn’t mean you should too.

Doing something for the sake of doing it is a part of conformity, not to mention it will bore you.

Don’t care too much about what others are doing.

That’s their business and will suck you in to rabbit holes you’ll find hard to get out. Focus on your personal and business development, not others.

Enjoy your life.

Balance, by whatever definition is relevant for you will make your business more pleasurable and help you stay motivated for the long term.

Question everything.

The normal way of doing things is not always the best way.

Secret formulas are great marketing tactics, but don’t be fooled.

There are no Seven Secrets to Success or 5 Absolutely Must Have Entrepreneurial Skills etc.

Sometimes you just got to say f@@k it.

It’s just not worth the headache nor is it worth caring too much or thinking too much about it.

Take care of your health.

Without this, life sucks and your business will suffer.

Who cares what others think of you.

It’s more important what you think of yourself.

An entrepreneur is what others call you.

That’s their business, not yours.

You’ll win some and lose some.

That’s the nature of playing the game of business.

The mechanics of business is very simple.

Humans make it complex.

Watch for variables.

They make your business unpredictable. Humans are the variables.

Ask for help.

There is no such thing as self sufficiency in business.

Watch your thinking.

Ensure its conducive to your business growth.

Smart people have doubts.

Read case studies, talk to experienced entrepreneurs and consultants they’ll give you perspective and confidence in what you’re doing when you feel unsure.

Take responsibility.

Make no mistake, learning on the fly and bootstrapping is really tough. You choose it. Suck it up.

Bootstrapping is a great way to learn.

It teaches you where and when to spend money in your business. The little you have, when spent wrong, will hurt like hell and make you focus more on ROI next time round.

Don’t bootstrap forever.

At some point bootstrapping limits your business growth and can create a pauper mentality. Ditch it.

Attitude and character is a key ingredient.

It takes a strong character to start a business with the many unknowns. Then it takes grit to keep going when times are tough. This is how you stay in business for the long haul.

Your customers are human beings not transactions.

They don’t fit into spreadsheets. Those are numbers as a consequence of your customer interactions. Without your customers you don’t have a business.

Develop your resilience.

You will often face the unknown and will often face uncertainty whether you take baby steps during this time or take leaps will often depend on how well you can stomach it. Either way, get use to it.

Never stop learning.

You don’t know it all, it’s not possible. Whilst the fundamentals of business are important, and stay the same, it’s the stuff beyond that, that moves your business and you to another level.

Being highly competent can be highly limiting.

In the early stages, it might be useful that you are competent at so many things, but it can also become a severe limitation, if you continue to do everything yourself, all the time. Be wise about it.

Learn to be decisive.

There may come a time where it looks like you need to turn it around or shut it down. Make a decision to go for it or throw in the towel. Making no decision will make your situation worse. Your attitude of what you think is possible is everything at this point.

Growth is not consistent.

Sometimes you might have to take one or two steps back to make a leap forward.

Be conscious on your ROI.

You’ve put time, energy and money into your business. Be crystal clear on what you want as a return, understand it takes time, and whilst there should always be financial aims there are also many non-financial returns that are important too. Knowing this will help you stay motivated.

What would you add to this list?


Featured image by Sarah Spencer