I’ve started more businesses than I’d care to admit. In my experience, it’s a bit like driving through a heavy fog where you are only able to see a few feet in front of the windshield — you don’t know what’s up ahead until it’s upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through that fog.
As I’ve been driving through the fog for over a decade now, I thought I would take today’s post and boil down 15 of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past decade of building and growing businesses. Consider these tips “stuff I wish I had known when I was young and stupid.” This is what has allowed me to develop my Entrepreneurial spirit Let’s get to them.
1. Don’t listen to statistics. People love to throw around the statistic that 95 percent of business fail. Don’t listen to that — it’s an excuse to make you feel comfortable about giving up. If that number is even correct, it’s because most people don’t commit, they don’t follow through to the end or they are stupid in how they manage their money.
2. Do something you like. Don’t start something you won’t want to do in five years. Because if you are successful, you’ll still be doing this in five years.
3. You are not going to know everything.In fact, you probably won’t know anything when you first start. Start anyway. When I first got into real-estate investing, I had no idea how to buy a property, rent a house, or evict a tenant. I figured it all out “on the job.” You will too.
4. Finish what you start. Nearly every entrepreneur I know suffers from the same curse: we like to start things more than we like to finish them. In other words, if you are a good entrepreneur, you’ll have a lot of great ideas. Most of them would probably work out well and make you a lot of money. However, that doesn’t mean you should pursue them. Pick one and go with it until it dies or it makes you rich enough to buy a private island.
5. Never partner with someone because it’s convenient, think like an entrepreneur. Partner with someone because it makes you stronger. The wrong partner will drive you crazy, make you hate your work and end up causing more problems than they solve.
6. You are going to suck at managing people.It’s OK, we all do at first. However, this is one task you must get better about. Hire an assistant right now, even if it’s only a virtual one for $3 an hour. It will give you some great training on managing, with little downside.
7. Social media probably isn’t that important. We just pretend it is so we can look at cat pictures on Facebook. I’d recommend installing a Facebook newsfeed blocker.
8. Stop designing business cards, logos, business plans and stationery. They don’t matter right now. Go build your business and stop doing busy work that makes you feel like you are accomplishing something.
9. There is a fine line between dedicated and obsessed. Screw the line. Trample right over it. You need to cross that line continually, so never let anyone tell you that you are too obsessed with your idea. I’m completely and overwhelmingly obsessed with real-estate investing — and it’s OK. This is one of the best ways to know that you have developed that Entrepreneurial spirit! What are you obsessed with?
10. Don’t quit your job too soon. Yes, you’ll have more time to build your business, but let’s be honest: there are 168 hours in a week, only 40 are consumed by your job and another 50 by sleep. You have plenty of time if you would just hustle and turn off Netflix. But don’t be afraid to quit your job if you can afford it.
11. Focus on your higher paying tasks. Divide up your tasks and determine what your “$10 per hour” tasks are and what your “$1,000 per hour” tasks are. Focus on doing more “$1,000 per hour” tasks and fewer “$10 per hour” ones. For more on this, read Want to Make $1,000 or More Per Hour? And yes, you do a lot of $1,000 an hour tasks, even if you don’t realize it. Just do more of them.
12. Your spouse and kids matters more than your business. Never forget that.
13. Read — a lot. If you don’t have time, listen to audiobooks. And not just business books. Read motivational books, self-help books, success books, fiction books, biographies — whatever. This was one of the best ways to develop my Entrepreneurial spirit
14. Get up earlier. Yes, you can, and you should. I don’t care if you are not a morning person. That’s an excuse lazy people use. For more advice on this, read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It’s life changing.
15. Don’t worry about raising money. Focus on building a business so incredible people throw money at you.
Like driving down a lonely highway on a dark, foggy night, entrepreneurship can be a little scary. But hopefully at least one of the above tips will help you navigate through the fog a little easier with more confidence. If you are just getting started with your business, just remember this: keep driving through the fog. Your future self will thank you.
Do you have any additional tips you’d like to add? Or something you’d like to expand upon? Leave your comments below and let’s continue the conversation. I would love to hear your story on developing your Entrepreneurial spirit.
Finally, if you think this post could help one of your family members or friends, share it on your favorite social-media channel. You never know whose life you might change.
The author Steve Wolf is a serial entrepreneur and currently the Director of Sales and Marketing at Skylab Apps. Along with the CEO of Skylab Apps Dean Grey Contributed to the article. If you are interested in finding out more about what Skylab Apps is all about and the entrepreneurs that make up this company, please check us out at www.Skylabapps.com
In my last blog I wrote about the Joy’s and freedoms of working remotely. If you missed it, read it here! This will give you a little better context of what I am writing about in this 5-Step process to finding the perfect remote job to keep you traveling and experiencing the world all while making money from your lap top.
Here is my 5-Step Process.
1 – Find a job, skill, or way that you can actually do that will produce income with out you physically needing to be there.
This is going to be your most difficult task. You may be saying to yourself “well I am a doctor, how could I possibly practice medicine from a laptop?” Well this comes down to how resourceful you want to be. My dad is doctor, a Podiatrist to be exact and he has been looking into what is know as “tele-medicine” which is basically on call and on demand video conferencing from doctors to patients. Say you have a foot problem, you go on the site, set an appointment, my dad would accept it, you are instantly connected, he gives your advice and recommendations and your done. The system charges the patients credit card and they go on their way. Booya, there is a way a doctor can work 100% remotely. You may be surprised what you find if you really start thinking of all the different ways you could monetize your skill sets right from a computer from anywhere in the world, don’t worry, we will get to that in number 2.
2. Get really good with technology.
If you are going to have any chance at being an entrepreneur on the road, then you are going to have to get really good with leveraging technology and automation. What do I mean by this. Well put it this way, I can pretty much run all of my business from my iPhone. Everything from a CRM to a VOIP telephone system that allows me to communicate effortlessly through WIFI any where in the world. This means that if you are planning on getting in to a business that has to ship “real” goods and logistics as well as a customer service dept. will be necessary, than you are going to have your work cut out for you. I am not saying that it is impossible, just going to take a couple extra steps of strategic planning and utilization of technology that automates the process.
3. Simple is better.
A good business is not necessarily a complex business. I would consider a solid business to be one that is profitable, allows you to live the life you desire and takes care of it’s employees and it’s customers. Some of the best businesses that I know of were born out of the simplest ideas or needs by a consumer. Take for example the work we do at the FX365 Institute, we teach people how to trade currencies all over the world from office in San Diego. We have students in 20 U.S. States and 4 countries that take our course 100% remotely and learn a skill set that allows them to make money in the foreign currencies market anywhere in the world from a laptop. Don’t over complicate this part. The less you need to run your business, the better off you will be.
4.How much do you really need to make?
My favorite part of explaining these concepts to people is conveying the fact that a business only needs to make you a “enough” money in order for it to change your life. If you added up all of your expenses annually, and then added in the costs to live in another country or to travel a couple months out of the year I think you will be surprised to find that you don’t need to make $300K per year to achieve your goals. In fact, I have been able to travel about 2 months out of every year for the past decade making around $100k per year. The best part is that I only really needed about $60K to sustain so any extra money that I make on top of my yearly nut goes in to savings and investments. This allows me to stay diversified, active in the markets using online portfolio managers, and open to new ideas and businesses while I can keep the quality of life I have come to enjoy. The point is to make enough and then a little more. You don’t need to be a millionaire to pull this off.
5. Multiple Streams of Income remotely
I know you have heard this one before, but maybe not through the lens of doing it remotely. Every book I have read on this topic is about real estate and multiple businesses that would require you to physically be somewhere to manage those streams. When you start to venture down the road of working remotely you start looking at businesses in a whole new light.
I have come up with a couple of questions that I use to test the remote possibilities of a business. These days, if they do not get passed these questions with a yes, then I am probably going a different direction. I wrote two articles that may give you more context when it comes to working remotely, follow the links below to check them out:
Does your Remote business pass the litmus test? Could you actually leave the country for weeks or months at a time and still count on the business to grow on its own and produce income.
In this article I am going to share with you some of the most important questions that you should be asking yourself to avoid a career that is going to keep you chained to your desk.
When I am approached with a business or come up with an idea, I ask myself these following questions to help me decide if I should even consider pursing the business. I wrote a blog recently about The Joys of working remotely and also my 5-Step process to finding the perfect career where you can travel the world and work from a laptop.
I have come up with a couple of questions that I use to test the remote possibilities of a business. These days, if they do not get passed these questions with a yes, then I am probably going to go a different direction. I wrote two articles that may give you more context when it comes to working remotely.
Now for the smell test questions:
1. If I spent a year building this business and I left the country for 2-4 weeks with out being able to call back or answer any emails would it still be standing when I go home?
This may take some introspection and some deep thinking about what the business is, who it would involve and what you would need to figure out to get all of the pieces together. This type of think and evaluation will become paramount when assessing situations for your business in the future, so play the tape out and visualise as best as you can where you would see yourself and the business in a year or two.
2. Is this a business I can run myself, or will I need to hire or contract out work to properly run it and if I do, will I be able to effectively manage the team remotely?
If you can do it on your own, great, do it! Unfortunately most enterprises even small ones will need to depend on others to accomplish what ever it is your business will do or provide for people. The question you need to concern yourself with is can you effectively manage then from a far or set the business up in a way where employees or partners can or would be self serving and motivated to accomplish tasks day to day to keep the company running smoothly.
3. On a scale from 0%-100% how much of the business can I automate?
(0%-60% is no good / 60%-80% is ok / 80%-100% is ideal). Automation is going to be key for you to managing efficiently from a far. It will allow you to batch work and delegate important work properly. Also it really allows you to step away from the business or parts of the business for days or weeks at a time and then come back to spot check at a later date. Most importantly automation usually takes the place of what human used to do and will allow you to perform more high value activities for the business.
4. Will it make me enough money to give me the life I desire to have and if so how long will it take to get me to that point? 60 Days? 6 months? A year?
For more on this topic check out my blog I wrote on Time vs. Money! This will really put this step in to perspective for you.
5. Pros and cons list – Now for the final step, write down all of the great things about how the business is going to get you what you want out of it. Examples could be things like “90% automation” or “allows me to travel 6 months per year” etc and then do the same for all of the potentially negative elements about the business. Make sure to be real with yourself here. Don’t sugar coat this part.
Once you have completed all of these steps, then you will have a solid understanding about what you could potentially be getting involved in. I can’t stress the importance of the exercises!
Working as a management consultant for a number of years I have a keen ability to understand what is going to make a business succeed or fail. Unfortunately most folks don’t even think about these things when starting a business. Instead they get excited about the idea, or one aspect of the new business and run with it throwing caution to the wind and ignoring or simply not flushing out the idea and all the pit falls that would ensue first.
Be smart, be savvy and get the business that will give you the life you desire but don’t ever be afraid to give your idea a litmus test! It will save you time, money and heartache in the future. These simple actions will keep you on the right track helping you to avoid a business or an idea that will stand in the way of a more well suited business or opportunity that will give you everything you need.
Do you ever dream of being able to run a business from anywhere in the world? Have you ever found yourself looking online for different ways you could travel abroad and somehow make an income while you were half way around the world.
Over the past decade I have been perfecting this skill. The truth is that it is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true if you are used to a 9 to 5 standard day job. The dream of one day quitting that job and breaking free from the chains of the corporate world can be elusive and fleeting.
When I was 22 I left the country for the first time. I had always wanted to travel but I was a troublemaker growing up and spent the later part of my teen years in rehab getting sober. By the time I was 20, I had been sober for a couple of years and my life was back on track, so I decided to leave America and embark on an adventure.
I signed up for a study abroad trip to Spain, paid the money and prepared to leave home. To be perfectly honest, this trip wouldn’t be my first time out of America, I frequently went to Mexico in my teen years growing up in San Diego. None of my trips to Mexico had any real cultural importance. In fact, I don’t even really remember what transpired during most of those trips and never really made farther the the Tijuana bars on Revolution Blvd. This trip was going to be different, I was with college kids, and there was some structure, so I figured that was a good place to start.
I remember getting off the plane in Madrid. I was bustled away from the group with my host mom who didn’t speak a lick of English and was given a room in her little apartment. I was super jet lagged and had never been on a flight that long in my life so I passed out immediately. When I woke up it was dusk outside. I walked down the 4 flights of stairs and sat out on the side walk in the neighborhood I was staying in listening to all of the sounds of the city and taking it all in. The smells, the cars, the food, everything was different, I didn’t know anyone around, and I was far from home. I was in LOVE.
This first encounter of Wanderlust was intoxicating to me. I vividly remember it and I was so grateful to be in that moment experiencing life again in a new way for the first time.
I thought to myself, what if I could do this all of the time, what if I could just travel a lot? It was sometime on that trip that I decided I was going to need to find a line of work that was going to allow me to do this. About a week before the program ended, I told my professors running the program that I wouldn’t be accompanying them back to America, and stayed in western Europe an additional 4 months traveling around Spain, Italy and France.
Once I ran out of money, I came home. At that time I was running a Mortgage office which surprisingly was still standing after my almost 5 months of me being gone. It didn’t matter though because I came home in September 2008 just in time to watch the housing market collapse completely. I was screwed. I had done really well for a kid who dropped out of college to get rich but it was all back firing now and traveling was the last thing on my mind.
After the dust settled I was about $190,000 in debt and in need of a new career. I had decided to go back to college a year earlier and had about a year and a half left for my undergrad degree so I figured I would spend the next 2 years finishing college and finding a career that would set me up to travel the globe and make money while I was doing so.
The first business that I found that worked really well for me was multi-level marketing. It seemed like a great fit, I was recruited in to a company being sold the dream that if I spent a couple years working hard at building an organization, it would eventually take off and continue to pay me residually. This was PERFECT. I could build the business for a couple years to about $100K per year then disappear to Indonesia
For a first timer in MLM, I did incredibly well, and I build that $100k per year income in a short amount of time but it was short live. The first company I was with asked me to leave and the second company I joined eventually went belly up. Also every time I would leave the country on a trip, I found myself on my phone or laptop the whole time putting out fires and that was just plane stupid.
When I finally walked away from the industry I decided to put my entrepreneur hat back on. I had raised some money for a tech start-up and was actively learning how to trade currencies in the FOREX market.
I never lost site of my desires and dreams of being able to make money from a Laptop; I just needed to be a little more resourceful. I found that as long as I can offer real value to a client even being a great distance away, that my capability to earn money anywhere where I was in the world would be there.
So over the past 5 years I have been doing just that. Most of the consulting work that I do is never from an office, maybe my home office. I do keep an office at the Currency trading school that I have a long-term contract with but they have always been cool with me leaving and making my own schedule. Again, I attribute that leniency to the results I am able to deliver. The moral of the story is that there is a million ways to make money and add value to a person, place or business, however you need to be resourceful if you are going to do this from a laptop half a world away.
I have put together my top 5 tips to finding your own way to take your business on the road with you for good. Read “Top 5 Tips to Working remotely.” To see what it’s all about
3 Weeks ago, I took a sales job to help keep me going while I continue to bootstrap my start-up company. Sure I still make a little money from my Multi-Level-Marketing company, but not nearly enough to live off of and definitely not enough to take any kind of Mini-Retirement Vacations. I have never been an advocate of full-time multi-level-marketing anyway, that is NOT the model! A good MLM company gives the person who has a day job the ability to add income and then after about 18-36 months produces enough income to replace what ever that person was making at their job. This idea of being a full-time networker with no experience in that space is a bad idea, you will most likely run out of money and burn through your savings before you get profitable forcing you to go back to your job with your hat in hand. Trust me, I know, I’ve made that mistake before.
All to many times I see people jump from company to company trying to “Find the right one” and that is just a bad way to go about. Do I believe in MLM? Yes, from the bottom of my heart, but I don’t believe that putting all of your eggs in to one basket in life is ever the correct path.
I think the correct path should look something like this, and keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, this still applies.
Now, if at any point, you get knocked on your ass which you will, you simply start the steps over. It is what I am doing in my life right now, what I’ve done in the past and what I will do in the future. Why, because none of my financial decisions are based on emotion, if they are, you’re losing at the money game. Even when I’m down, I still strive to make logical decisions when it comes to money. That kind of delayed gratification is what allows wealthy-minded people to stay rich, and poor-minded people to continue to stay poor or loose you wealth. If you are anything like me, you will find that you become much more resilient to the ass kickings life throws at you once you have been through a couple of them. For me, it’s never about how hard I fall or what I lose, it’s all about how quickly I can get back up. This time around, I didn’t lose much as I was 10 times more subsidized and protected than I was when I went through some similar circumstances at the age of 23. I predict it will take me less than 6 months to clear all debts, and be in a cash flow positive situation traveling around the world by the end of 2014.
How am I so sure? Great question. Let me ask you this, if you were 23 years old and woke up one day and found out you were all of sudden $160,000 in debt, what would you do? If you make 50k a year, you would be shitting bricks. What if I gave you the same scenario, but you made $190,000 a year before. Probably not so bad right? Ok set that aside for a second and let’s assume that you have been in debt most of your young adult like I was and like most Americas are. We’re conditioned from a young age that it is ok to live like this. This is why you get credit card applications in the mail @ 18 years old and high schools, colleges and employers never even teach the most basic of finance. “The Man” i.e. your boss, the government (IRS especially), super rich people and the owners of banks and lending institutions etc. don’t want you to figure this out. They want you broke, tired, hungry and pre-occupied with shit that doesn’t matter like video games, American Idol, and spectator sports so that you are not paying attention to the fact that they are ROBBING you blind. If you don’t believe me, enjoy this video.
Debt, should be used as a tool, not as a way to get instant gratification to buy yourself things that you cannot afford, or even need in most cases for that matter. With the exception of college loans (Which I think is another racket anyway) you shouldn’t have any debt unless you own a business that produces income, or own a home. The fact that no one ever told you that you shouldn’t be in debt isn’t really an excuse and if it is, I’m telling you now. Don’t worry, it’s not like our country leads by example, they’re 16 trillion in debt, so don’t worry about them, because policy isn’t going to fix our problems here on the ground right now today as it pertains to you and your family or future family.
The point is that all those institutions make money off of our continued ignorance. Why does everyone hate them? Simple, because they’re smarter than us and no matter what recession we go through, the good people at Goldman Sachs or in Congress don’t seem to mind all that much our struggles doesn’t affect them. While were slaving away everyday trying to collect their scraps going to work every day to run on the mouse wheel they are taking million dollar bonuses from our bail out money and buying yachts. Do I not believe in Capitalism? Of course I do, and in order to achieve the types of results that they have been able to achieve you simply must understand their game.
Solution: Stop borrowing money. If a bank sells money, and we’re not buying it, the bank can’t make money. If we bought houses cash, we wouldn’t need a mortgage. If we cut up our credit cards, we could only spend what we had incurring no negative interest. If we took a job we didn’t like as a means to buy us some time to find something better, then we would all be doing things we liked and wouldn’t get stuck in the rat race. If we were always educating ourselves with the same materials the richest people in the world did, wouldn’t that level the playing field a bit? If we could all wrap our heads around this idea of delayed gratification, wouldn’t we become less impressionable to consumerism thus driving all prices of consumer goods down substantially because fewer people are “willing” to buy.
Ask yourself, do you really need a new car every year? Do you feel so left out because you don’t know who won the game on Sunday? Would it kill you to watch a little less TV and maybe read a book? Don’t you think you were put on this earth for more of a purpose than running on the hamster wheel, getting your food pellet, drinking water, playing a video game and getting back to running on the wheel again?
So lets start moving in the right direction, let’s stop trying to look good and actually do good. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my friends, and people I love find themselves in life and achieve great success. So much to the point that I have dedicated a large part of my own life to help people do just that. The help is there for those who seek. I sought it out when I was young and it got me to where I am today. As it turns out, all the successful people I met growing up were happy to help guide because they saw my willingness to learn and the way I sought out enlightenment. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and get honest with each other about where we a really at now, and get very clear on finding just what our real purpose is here in this life.
So if you have a Job, work your ass off at it, find something you actually love doing and then get out of there before you forget your dreams. There are no shortcuts in life that lead to the top of the mountain, you’re going to have to climb it, and the first time is always the hardest and scariest. I know because I have tried a couple of shortcuts while climbing the mountain and they always led back to the hamster wheel. The irony is that once you master that mountain and you can afford to buy a helicopter to fly to the top, it doesn’t seem all that hard to climb anymore anyway 😉
I wish you the best of luck out there, and take it because you’ll need it.