Starting your own business is not easy.
But I think you know that, right?
And when I say 'starting' I don't just mean the first days, the first months or even the first year. The 'starting' phase of a business can last a prett-ay long time.
When it comes to creating a successful business, there's a whole bunch of stuff that gets in the way. Things like...
- Feeling like you're not good enough or enough of an expert.
- Not knowing how to market what you do and actually get your product or service into the hands of the people who need it.
- Fear of failure. AND fear of success.
- Procrastination (why do we do that?!)
- Balancing your new biz with the rest of your life.
- Staying motivated.
- Fear that you'll never make enough money.
- And frequent and massive servings of self-doubt.
So if there are so many obstacles to overcome to create a successful business and really make the life you want for yourself, why on earth do we get ourselves into it? Why don't we just go back to employment, like the rest of the planet?
- Because we desperately want to do something that feels meaningful to us.
- Because we want more freedom and flexibility in our lives. You know, like not having to ask permission every time you need to go to the dentist, the doctors, or take a pee (I'm only half joking about the pee part by the way, but that's another story.)
- Because we're fed up of playing by someone else's rules.
- Because we sense that we are capable of so much more than what's possible within the constraints of 9-5.
- Because we hate having to water down our personalities to fit into someone else's box.
I am Passionate with a CAPITAL P about self-employment. I believe it is the best route to freedom, long-term security, expressing yourself in all your quirky glory, and stepping into your true potential in this world.
And I'm passionate about supporting new and growing entrepreneurs in their journey to creating thriving businesses that make a difference in the world.
And so today I've got something really cool to share with you. Over the last few weeks, I've been reaching out to some of my favourite entrepreneurs to ask them for their top tips for success for people just starting out.
All the people listed here have inspired, helped or supported me in some way on my own journey through the work they do and now I hope their advice here can do the same for you.
Here's what 20 successful entrepreneurs said when I asked them:
"What's your number one top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs and solopreneurs?"
Al Humphries - Adventurer, Author & Motivational Speaker
Al's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Don't give up the day job. Squeeze what you are trying to do into your normal life. Do it more and more until the squeeze becomes impossible. Only then consider leaping.
Don't quit your job to start a boutique chorizo shop just because you've got skinny jeans and an Instagram account. Be pragmatic for as long as you can bear to be.
And when you leap... really leap! Go hard!"
About Al: Al has beautiful golden curly hair. He's also cycled around the world, walked across India, rowed the Atlantic, published 6 books, and was a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. He loves to encourage people to shake up their 9-5 routine by heading out on a microadventure. All round awesome.
Arvind Devalia - Make It Happen
Arvind's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"My best tips for success for a newbie entrepreneur / solopreneur is to believe in yourself, give it your all, never give up and take time now and then to check in just how your enterprise is making a difference to others.
Ask your self - is my enterprise in line with my values and is it creating a legacy I would be proud of one day?"
About Arvind: Arvind Devalia is a coach, author and speaker, on a mission to transform the world one person at a time. Author of Amazon bestsellers "Get the Life you Love" and "Love is all that Matters", Arvind is committed to supporting people to be the best version of themselves - and at the same time having a a lot of fun whilst doing so.
Chris Guillebeau - The Art of Non-Conformity
Chris's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"First and best tip: determine what success looks like for you. It may very well not be the same as anyone else's definition, and it will probably be a lot easier if you understand your aims. Remember the wise words of Yogi Berra: 'You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there.'"
About Chris: What Chris has created over at The Art of Non-Conformity is remarkable. Author, traveller and non-conformist, Chris shows us that we don't have to live life the way others expect and that when we combine our personal dreams with service to others we can create something magical. I love Chris for his commitment to service, his down-to-earth nature and his exceptionally speedy email replies.
Corbett Barr - Fizzle
Corbett's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"A business is a simple thing: solve a problem for a group of people, find enough of those people and charge them something they're willing to pay. Most businesses fail because entrepreneurs create something people don't really want. If you're a new entrepreneur, start by solving an obvious problem in the simplest way possible.
If cash is a problem, freelancing is a great way to get started. Don't aim for ending world hunger with your first business, just try to put enough cash in your pocket so you don't go broke. Then, build on your success and raise the stakes next time around. There will be plenty of opportunities, and most entrepreneurs end up working on several projects during their lives."
About Corbett: When it comes to building a successful online business, Corbett Bar and the rest of the team at Fizzle are where it's at. Entrepreneur for a decade, Corbett started out writing a blog whilst on a road-trip to Mexico. He later built Think Traffic, a blog that grew to over 60,000 visits a month. Think Traffic later became what it is today - Fizzle. I highly recommend checking out the Friday Fizzle Show, a podcast where you'll not only get top quality information on building your online biz, but also get to laugh along at the ridiculous antics of Corbett and the rest of the crew. Awesome resource for new and growing entrepreneurs
Corrina Gordon-Barnes - You Inspire Me
Corrina's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Your business will serve a Tribe - a particular group of people who share similar characteristics, challenges and dreams. Commit yourself to getting to know who that Tribe are. One way is to do research - have conversations with people who you think might be your Tribe and find out as much as you can about them - their fears, their desires, why they want to get from A to B, where they've been looking so far. They will tell you everything you need to know. And then start communicating with them publicly - for example, through a blog. Share nuggets of your expertise and invite conversation; their response to you will guide you as to what to create for them. Co-create with your Tribe and they'll want to pay for what you're offering."
About Corrina: Founder of You Inspire Me, professional coach and author of Turn Your Passion to Profit, Corrina wants to live in a world where marketing is fun, clients turn up easily, and money flows to those who do work that helps and heals. Corrina has been featured on MindBodyGreen, LifeByMe and MarketingForHippies and published in The Ecologist, OM Yoga, Diva, and The London Paper.
Dave Cornthwaite - Author, Filmmaker, Yes Man
Dave's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Your dream job doesn't exist, you have to create it. Don't wait for other people to make critical decisions that effect you, just take control, trust your gut and work hard until working hard doesn't feel like work. You've made it when you wake up every morning without fearing how you're going to spend your time."
About Dave: Fact: Dave Cornthwaite is a very nice human being. After leaving his job as a Graphic Designer in 2005, he skateboarded across Australia. That went pretty well, so he decided to undertake 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more using non-motorised transport. I thoroughly encourage you to stalk Dave and follow his adventures.
Jeff Goins - Writer
Jeff's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"The best success tip would be to not just do what you love but find how what you love intersects with what people need."
About Jeff: Professional Writer Jeff Goins built an audience of over 100,000 in 18 months. But for me that's not the real reason he's such an inspiration. Before finding the path that works for him, Jeff worked really hard for a really long time and never gave up. He's proof that staying in the game is half the battle. Check out his latest awesome ebook on building a blog audience here.
Jennifer Gresham - Career Change Expert
Jennifer's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Be willing to experiment. No one figures it all out the first time through, but it is figure-outable. And, while trying things out on your own is good, don't put off getting help for too long. That was my biggest mistake. I spent years and years in school for my first career. What in the world made me think I could learn everything I needed to know about entrepreneurship by myself?"
About Jennifer: Career change expert Jennifer Gresham is founder of the online course, No Regrets Career Academy, and author of the popular career blog, Everyday Bright. Jennifer helps people escape unfulfilling careers and discover the work that makes them come alive.
Joel Runyon - Impossible Ventures
Joel's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Sell a product as soon as you can. Pre-sell it if you can. Validate the market. Try a billion things. See what sticks. Go with that. Don't try to be clever. Don't get caught in your own head. Get data as fast as possible and trust the data."
About Joel: Creator of Impossible and Impossible Ventures, Joel's a guy who's out in the world pushing the boundaries of what's possible. After graduating from university in 2009, and being unemployed for a year (where he couldn’t even get Starbucks to call him back), Joel got tired of waiting for life to happen, and decided to make life happen himself. Want to push your own limits? Check out Joel's awesome work here.
John P. Morgan - Coach for Leaders
John's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"For your entire life, structures have been handed to you. It's time now that you create your own. Do not go looking for them. Create them. Have more integrity for your word than you have ever had before. Commit forever to your life as an entrepreneur/solopreneur and do this again every day. Be consistent in your action. Go slow and steady. Do not burn yourself out. Be flexible and agile. Seek failure as learning. Allow success to be the exception to the norm in each new attempt. Forget the 'business'. And focus on delivering the product/service. Serve your ass off. Become the absolute best in the world at what you do. Allow the business to be built around this as an unavoidable necessity."
About John: Loving, powerful, and with a deep commitment to service, John P. Morgan is one of the best people I know. He coaches resourceful creators on missions to make a difference in the world. To find out more about John, check out his website and his really cool YouTube channel.
Jon Morrow - Boost Blog Traffic
Jon's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Become obsessively focused on what your audience wants, not what you want to create."
About Jon: When it comes to blogging, Jon, founder of Boost Blog Traffic is IT! After being hit by a car going 85 miles an hour in 2006 and sustaining major injuries, Jon reassessed his life and decided change was in order. He quit everything he knew and started a blog. Within 2 months his first blog was receiving 2,000 visitors a day and his success spiralled from there. For me, Jon is proof that no matter what life throws at you, with real commitment you can create anything you want. Jon has dedicated himself to helping others build successful blogs that not only allow their authors to create the lives they dream of, but to solve problems for others in the process.
Jonathan Mead - Paid to Exist
Jonathan's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Learn good marketing and develop self promotion skills. There's no way around this. You have to be able to unabashedly talk about and spread your message, or you don't stand a chance in this noisy world."
About Jonathan: Jonathan is the man behind the hugely successful site Paid to Exist, a community dedicated to helping you create a life of freedom and purpose in which work and play merge to become one and the same. Like many people in this post, Jonathan used to work a 9-5 job and is just one more shining example of what's possible when you commit to living life on your own terms.
Julian Hayes - The Art of Fitness and Life
Julian's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Don’t let the inner voices of self-doubt cripple you. Self-doubt can be your worst enemy if you let it. It’ll tell you to wait on a product, to wait on a article, to wait on a book, or to wait on a new business.
That’s all a lie. You’re good enough already. There will never be a perfect moment or situation where you feel 100% certain about a decision. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and use those situations to learn. Take a leap and figure it out from there. You learn by doing and getting your hands dirty. The concept of ‘perfect’ is nothing but a fairy tale.
Fear and doubt never completely leaves. Acknowledge it and keep marching forward."
About Julian: Julian Hayes is one of a kind. Writer and Fitness and Lifestyle Consultant over at 206 Fitness, Julian has a no-nonsense approach to fitness which I totally love. After dropping out of medical school $42,000 in debt, Julian chose to follow his true passions over a more traditional path and set about creating 206 Fitness.
Madeleine (Mado) Lamou - You Gotta Be You
Mado's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"By all means, do all the necessary planning, research and preparation work and get crystal clear on your your "why", "what", "for whom" and "how", but the most important thing is to take action, preferably only one at a time. Then again, pay attention to everything your actions bring about (your feelings, the results, feedback, etc.) and how it's all aligned with your goals, and then adjust the course along the way."
About Mado: Mado is a digital brand designer and founder of You Gotta Be You. She's passionate about helping creative, bold and purpose-driven entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to reality, to share their vision and genius with the world, and to attract their ideal tribe and clients. Oooh, she's my kind of girl! Check out her beautiful work here.
Matt Cheuvront - Proof Branding
Matt's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"This isn't exactly innovative advice but I'd say the most "freeing" thing you can do as a new entrepreneur is to put into perspective what you REALLY need. Financially, what do you need to survive. What do you REALLY need to survive and to keep going? Our mind has a funny way of tricking us into thinking what we need is much more than it really is. When you can tangibly qualify what it takes to keep going, it really puts things into perspective and allows you to focus on doing your best work to get there."
About Matt: Founder and CEO of Proof Branding, Matt believes that entrepreneurship is about working smarter and living better. Matt is an expert story teller and his writing has been featured in Forbes, Inc Magazine, Mashable, Monster.com, Fast Company, The Young Entrepreneur Council, DIY Themes, Copyblogger, Fox Business, Yahoo. Connect with Matt on Twitter.
Rose Aldean - Mello Drinks
Rose's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Never, ever give up! If you’re setting up a business from scratch, with no previous experience in the industry like us, it is going to be super tough. You’ll always have doubts and worries and often compare yourself to the competition and think – there’s no way I can do what they’re doing! But don’t be put off by anyone or anything, if you believe in your business and see a gap in the market keep going and it will pay off. It will be a steep learning curve and you’ll find yourself dedicating every waking hour to your business, but for me it has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I’ve ever had!"
About Rose and Business Partner Sophie: When Rose set out to create Mello Drinks, everyone told her it wasn't possible. But Rose, together now with business partner Sophie, committed to her dream and worked to make it a reality. Mello, the ultimate in fresh melon juice, has been featured everywhere from Vogue to Glamour and is sold in some of the UK's most exclusive supermarkets including Harvey Nichols.
Patrick Drake - The 60 Second Chef
Patrick's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Unless you are feeling some pressure, unless you are experiencing some self-doubt and unless you are failing at least once in awhile, you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough. These feelings are all signs that you're striving to improve and evolve on both a personal and business level. You can look at successful people and imagine that they are superhuman, that they have some magical gift and that their path to success was always straight upwards, but that is never the case. The most successful people are the ones who can take the set-backs time and time again but get up and keep fighting. Your success could very well be on the other side of your most recent failure, so keep going no matter what!"
About Patrick: Some of the first words I spoke to Patrick were, "I thought you'd have a much bigger ego". How wrong I was. Patrick, a former Clifford Chance Lawyer, left his job to pursue his passion of all things food. Since then, he's been busy cooking up a storm all over the world. Check out his latest project at The 60 Second Chef.
Stephenie's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Take action! There's never going to be a "right time" to do most things in your business, nor will things ever be perfect. Get started connecting with your audience and creating as soon as you can. Before you have a website, logo, business name, and even before you have an offering. I started blogging about eight months before I even had an idea of what I would offer. But I had things to say and started connecting with my audience. Had I waited until I had something to sell, there would have been no one there to buy it. Don't let your perfectionist side take over... get things to where they work and put them out into the world. That's the best way to get clarity around what you're doing, who you are, and who you're serving."
About Stephenie: Stephenie Zamora is the founder of Stephenie Zamora Media, a full-service, life-purpose development, branding, and online marketing boutique. Here she merges the worlds of personal development, branding, and online marketing to help men and women build passion-based lives and businesses. Stephenie created her business with a simple philosophy: Individuals who take personal responsibility for creating the lives (and jobs) they desire are happier and healthier, and have a greater impact, than those who don’t. She is the author of Awesome Life Tips™ and creator of My Awesome Life Mastery™. Her articles have been published in The Huffington Post, Yahoo Shine, Positively Positive, and Brian Tracy International.
Steve Hardison - The Ultimate Coach
Steve's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"Stop talking about it. Do it!"
About Steve: Ultimate Coach, Steve Hardison, is a man who has gotten so far out of his own way that spending time with or around him is like having a direct line into your own soul. A man with a deep commitment to love and service, Steve has an extraordinary ability to show others their own power. It's easy to look at Steve's life now and the $150,000+ fees he receives for his coaching services and think that it's all been easy. Far from it, Steve has worked hard to be where he is today and he's yet another example of what's possible when we make a strong commitment to our dreams and use our lives to serve others.
Therese Schwenkler - The Unlost
Therese's top tip for success for newbie entrepreneurs:
"My best tip would be to remember that most of the time, getting started with your own business is waaaaayyyy harder than you imagine it will be. It's not always this way, but for most of the people I know (myself included), it's been really, really hard and has taken a lot of time, sweat, and tears. That's the part you don't hear about a whole lot. So do it for the love of it. If you do this, while also serving the needs of others, then you're more likely to succeed in business."
About Therese: Writer and creator of The Unlost, Therese created her site because "most of the popular advice for today’s generation sucks (and also, is boring), and I wanted to change that. I offer what I believe to be better and truer answers to the questions we’re all asking about life and love and work." Therese's work has been featured in in The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Brazen Careerist, Marc and Angel Hack Life, The Daily Love, Think Traffic, The Boise State University Arbiter, Tiny Buddha, Life After College, Revolution.is, Advanced Riskology, and more.
Over to you...
Blog posts without comments are like the desert without any sand - not all how it ought to be. So add your voice to the comments below and share:
- What your biggest obstacle is right now as a newbie entrepreneur.