In 2008 when I started to explore the world of entrepreneurship I was ignorant.
Now I don’t mean that I was an idiot or a fool (although those words might not be far from the truth in some instances). I just mean that I was unaware of all of the things that present-day Eva (not sure why I just referred to myself in 3rd person) knows when it comes to starting and growing a profitable business.
But that’s to be expected, right? I mean no one wakes up a master of his or her craft. It takes persistent work and practice to see the results you want. It usually also takes mentorship, money and time to do them at a steady pace so that you can turn a profit and do more good.
So 2008 Eva had none of those (there goes that 3rd person speak again). But what I did have was an idea, a laptop, and a determination to launch a successful business that would change the wooorld!!! (Sorry. I got a little carried away there.) Fast forward seven years and I’m just now seeing the results I thought I would have seen in 2009. Talk about taking the long way around!
The truth is that whether you’re a intrapreneur, entrepreneur, solopreneur, running an NGO or opening a private practice, starting a successful business can be hard. No matter how much you learn on your journey there’s always more to know. At times it seems like you might never know enough.
That’s not true of course, but it always helps if you have a compass to point you in the right direction and a map to let you know how close you are to your goal. So in the spirit of not wanting your business path to take as long as mine did, here are five things (it’s the short list) I wish I would have known before I started out on my journey and a gift (at the end) to help you fair better time on yours.
1. I wish I had known that it would take so long.
You’ve probably heard the stories about that one guy who made one trillion dollars in his first six weeks of business and wondered how he did it, right? Me too; but trust me when I say that that’s not the story of 99.9% of the rest of us who start businesses of our own.
Here’s the truth: learning “the ropes” of business can be a long and tedious journey. And I’d say that for most of us social workers it first entails the extra step of cultivating a wealth mentality which can be a time-consuming task. Now add to that the process of figuring out what business to start, learning different models to follow, and deciding on which tools to build a profitable business you’ll need to use. Oh! I haven’t even mentioned the endless array of social media and copyright skills you need to have to get your message “out there.”
It takes time to research, it takes time to practice, it takes time to set up systems and implement them, and it takes time to see the results of your efforts.
If you’re just starting out or if you haven’t yet seen the progress you expected to in your business by now don’t lose faith. Just like it takes time to work with clients sometimes to find something as basic as temporary housing for the night, it also takes time – often more time than you might think it should – to build your awesome business.
My best advice? Have a sense of urgency and chart the time it takes you to complete each task. That way you start to build up a realistic framework to work from and minimize frustration when it comes to setting deadlines and goals.
2. I wish I had known that there were so many moving pieces.
Domain names, website hosts, email list providers, landing pages, design platforms, copyrighting techniques, social media platforms for business, webinars, online summits, up-sales, added value offers, legal terms, secure payments, and autoresponders. These are just a few of the terms and tools you’ll learn when you start your business. Here’s a snapshot of some of the 200+ tools I use (or have used) for my business at any given time:
It doesn’t matter if you run a non-profit offline business or a full-fledged for-profit online one. If you’re going to run any sustainable operation there are
a few (too few), a gazillion (too many) a heck of a lot of systems that have to come together to make it work.
The good news is that as social workers we’re used to working with several moving pieces in our work, so with a little practice (“little” is relative, of course) and automation your business can basically run itself (also relative).
3. I wish I had known that I needed community support, that it existed, and where to find it.
You may find that when you first start your entrepreneurial journey you may be all alone; and by that I mean that you may be the only one in your company, school, or community who seems to be interested in this path. If this is you you’re not alone….well, you are but you know what I mean.
Here’s the thing: if you’re going to take this entrepreneurial path then you’re going to need support – and I’m not just talking about the kind that comes from your mom or your pet dog Lucky. I’m talking about encouragement when you get down about all the progress you’re not making, strategies to help you when you can’t figure out why no one is responding to your ads, and a swift kick in the pants when you’re not following through on your commitments like you promised yourself (and your support system) that you would.
So now the question becomes where can you find this support.
It took me the better part of five years to discover a whole world of like-minded entrepreneurs that I could tap into and benefit from. When I finally did connect with them it opened up an entire world to me of generous, fun, brave, creative, inspiring, amazing people all across the globe who were also on this path into unlimited wealth.
Since then I’ve started my own Facebook group especially for social workers who want to be rich (no shame in my game!). Join us?
4. I wish I had realized sooner that I needed a product or service to sell and I wish I had known how to do it.
Let me just clarify and say that it’s not that I didn’t understand that there had to be some sort of exchange of value on my part for money, but let’s just say that it took me a while to realize what that value would be and how to package it.
Yeah, I know I was a little slow on this one, but you don’t have to be.
See, I was under the impression that if I made up some business cards and told enough people that I was now an entrepreneur that pretty soon people would all come lining up for my amazing services and know-how (what they were at the time I wasn’t quite sure).
I’ve since come to realize that the world of entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily work that way. You’ve got to have a concrete thing that people can readily identify with and say, “Hey, I need that thing that you’ve got over there. I understand what it is and how it can help me get what I want. Now take my money.”
When I finally figured out my “thing” – teaching social workers how to use their existing skills to create more money for themselves – the next hurdle I had to cross was figuring out what to create for my ideal clients to meet their needs, hence I’ve created this blog. Here’s another solution I created, and another, and another.
5. I wish I had known that being confused, unclear, frustrated, discouraged, and lonely were part of the process.
Yes, believe it or not
Often when you have a strong vision for your life or a mission or cause that you’re working towards you may be the only one that has that vision for a long time. It can get lonely and you can become frustrated, doubt your abilities or the worth of the goal, and consider giving up.
Just know that when any (or all) of these emotions come up you are still on the right track.
A really great strategy that keeps me on task is to milk the heck out of item #3 on this list. The more you can stay connected with other like minded people, the easier it will be for you to stay on your game and not get sidelined by the gremlins of negativity that arise.
My Pain, Your Pleasure
I’ve shared with you the things that tripped me up during my first few years in business, but that doesn’t have to be your story too. Enter “What They Didn’t Teach You In School About Starting A Business;” a free online training that will help you set a solid foundation for your new or young business.
It’s what I wish I had back in 2008 when I was just starting out – especially because it’s free, because back in 2008 I had zero dollars to my name.
Unlike me who had to figure most things out on my own, you get to learn from my “extended learning curve” (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!) and shave years off of your own success story.
I’ve created a special page that tells you more about it, but it’s happening live on Sunday, September 13, and will only be available for free for 3 days after it airs. Hey, if you’re a subscriber to evaforde.com and definitely if you’ve made it to the end of this post you need to attend this training.
Click here to learn more and access the registration. It comes with a 17 page workbook that you’ll want to download and go over before the date so do it as soon as you can.
One last note about starting your business and being ignorant.
The truth is you’re always going to have some level of ignorance just because none of us can know everything there is to know at once – and even if we did there would be new upgrades, developments and changes to what we knew. Just like in social work the world of entrepreneurship and wealth creation is an ongoing process . The gift, though, is in the ability to be able to learn from our setbacks and use that understanding to help even more people with strategies of what not to do vs what works.
I hope to see you in the online training, and tell me in the comments what strategies you want to learn to overcome your ignorance.
I’m all ears!