There is a thin line that separates dreamers from doers, and that is the act of doing. Wanting something isn’t good enough. In order to have what you want, you need to go after it.
If there’s a trend I’m starting to notice, it would be the diminishment of a solid work ethic. I see people everywhere totally complacent with their jobs, not feeling the need to try harder, put in extra time or go above and beyond. This is totally fine if you’re happy. However, with most of these people there’s a collective desire for more. That desire tends to be overshadowed by fear, lack of knowledge and zero motivation to pursue whatever that more may be.
You may be scared and you may be lazy, but when you look back years from now, you’re going to wish you had started already.
If you want to start your own business or launch a product, you need to start by educating yourself. If you already have a firm grasp and/or experience in the industry you’d like to pursue, then you’re already mostly there. For some people, simply Googling isn’t going to be enough. You may need to take a couple of courses, be someone’s apprentice or even survey groups of people.
If you want to be taken seriously, understanding the market landscape, your future customers and the barriers to entry are all a top priority.
Find out what you need to know in order to make the process easier on yourself. Learning as you go is naturally going to be something that happens and we can all learn from our mistakes, but the fewer lessons you learn while screwing up, the better.
Where to Start
So many people are paralyzed when it comes to pursuing their dreams because they have no clue where to start. This is where my prior point, education, largely comes into play. The most important thing about starting—is to get started. Period. Once you really dive into educating yourself about what it will take, various starting points will manifest. 10 years ago after starting work as a promotional model, I knew I someday wanted to own my own promo company. Rather than relying on just working in the industry alone, I decided to go to school for marketing. I wanted to learn all the ins and outs and different facets of the industry so when I made the leap, I would have a better grip on what I needed to do.
There is no wrong place to start. Trust me, if it’s not the correct place or you need to figure more things out, that will come in time. Just start.
Find a Mentor
Mentors don’t necessarily need to be made official. It’s actually kind of awkward asking someone to be your mentor. Mentors can also change in time with your needs, their schedules etc. Basically, it’s important to find someone you admire, who is successful (it’s imperative that they are successful, the chick in the next cubicle over is most certainly not an appropriate mentor), who doesn’t mind you bouncing ideas off of them and who is going to be completely honest with you.
There are so many times that I wish I had someone when I was just getting started to smack me around a bit and tell me what I was doing right (and what I wasn’t). Luckily, I now have a handful of people that I routinely ask their opinion.
Understand that even though they may give you some really solid advice, their word is not law. You have to be able to make decisions for yourself, and sometimes you’re going to be the only one who believes in you. It’s just how it is.
Money is almost always an issue when pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. If you don’t need it right away, at some point you will. It’s best to understand what sort of monetary investment will need to go into your business. You also need money to live and maintain your current lifestyle. So no, I don’t suggest you quit your job right away. It may take a time period of straddling your current job while you start building your dream job brick by brick. Setting some money aside during this time period is a great idea.
Investors are always an option, but again you need to be educated. No matter how amazing your idea is, you must be prepared if you’re going to ask an outside entity for money. Financial projections are going to be very important here so it’s crucial you understand what you’re getting into.
I’d also advise against allowing your mentor to invest. Once money is involved, it’s difficult to separate your best interests from theirs. If you do decide to allow an investment from your mentor, it’s time to find yourself a new one.
In the business world, excuses aren’t going to fly. Success doesn’t care if you are sick. It doesn’t care if you took time off to party with your friends. It doesn’t care that you “just don’t feel like it today.” Success isn’t going to hold the door for you while you dick around.
Figure out what needs to be done and execute. Allow yourself time for breaks and sanity, but do not blame a lack of success on anything but you. You are the one who determines that.
Stand By Your Decisions
Now and then you’re going to make really stupid fucking decisions. It’s going to suck and you’re going to be mad at yourself. Guess what? It happens to all of us. It’s not the end of the world and you can’t let it break you.
Standing by your decisions doesn’t mean that if you make a bad one, you have to ride that wave until it dies. It simply means that you made it, and you can’t unmake it. So use this time to learn from what you did wrong, and ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice. There are few people in the world of business that get through making zero mistakes.
Find Your Own Measure
We all measure success differently so refrain from comparing yourself to others. Some people want to be millionaires and some are content making a decent living while doing what they love. Some people will measure their success by how many lives they can change and people they help. Whatever your measurement for success, it’s yours and only yours. Don’t let anyone tell you what your vision for your life is supposed to look like.
You Will Fail
It’s inevitable but failure is a relative term. Sometimes failing at one thing opens the door to another. Failure is the best learning tool out there, and the sting of failure doesn’t mean you suck. It means you tried. It means that when everyone doubted you, you tried your hardest and for whatever reason, came up short. The experience you’ve gained is invaluable, and this one failure may be what puts you on the track to success. Maybe you’re successful off the bat and then fail with something else. Either way, you no longer are a wantrepreneur, you made the leap, and now there’s no looking back.
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