Business is bloody hard. Anyone that tells you otherwise either isn’t in business or has some deep pockets. Business is bloody hard and if I could tell my younger self what he was getting into he would probably run for the hills but I am glad I can’t. I am glad I cannot warn him about the nightmare that lies ahead because it’s a beautiful nightmare.
The struggles are as much (if not more) a part of the journey as the successes. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s what tells you that it’s worth doing. Below are five tips I have internalised over my journey and I wish I knew them all at the beginning.
1. Stay Stupid, Stay Stubborn
Steven Pressfield states, in his brilliant book ‘Do The Work’ that -
“Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies”
We must be stupid enough to embark on this crazy journey in the first place… To ignore the advice of our friends and family that tell us to take a safer route.
We also must be stubborn enough to keep following the course even when the seas get rough and the voice inside your head is saying “WRONG WAY GO BACK!” Success isn’t a perfectly paved, straightened road with streetlights and signs… It's a thorny, muddy, wet jungle but every challenge makes success taste even sweeter.
Disclaimer: There is good stupidity and stupid stupidity. If you are pursuing a business/product/service that no one really needs or doesn’t solve any problems then you should probably re-examine.
2. Fail Fast, Fail Often
This sounds controversial to some and is a tried and trusted mantra to others. What entrepreneurs need to understand is that failure is not only a precursor to success, it’s what earns us our stripes in business. Failure is education. Many people let the fear of failure hold them back from even trying to start a business. When we dare to fail, we get a quick education on what works and what doesn’t, allowing us to take that new knowledge and iterate.
In the tech startup world they have something called Minimum Viable Product. This concept is based on going to market with a far from perfect product that is just good enough to put out to the public. While other people endlessly procrastinate before launching to ‘perfect’ their business idea, these people move fast and let their consumers tell them how to perfect it.
When we learn to detach from that fear of failure, we take chances on the risky opportunities that often lead to success. Fail fast, fail often and you are on track to success.
3. Trust your gut
If there is one thing I have learned to trust more than anything in business it is that feeling in your stomach that somehow knows what is best. Your instinct is going to be your best friend on the journey of entrepreneurship. Your instinct is a wise oracle that always has your best interests at heart even when you don’t fully understand it. Every time I have trusted my gut, it has always paid off in the long term.
4. Embrace fear
Fear is a funny thing. It’s a defense mechanism designed to protect you from danger and when that danger is life threatening, you should probably listen. In business however it is often what you fear most that you should follow like a GPS to achieve success.
Fear in business is often resistance trying to rob us of our greatest opportunities for self-actualisation. The things we fear and procrastinate, are often the things we need to do most in order to achieve our goals. If in doubt, confer with your trusty advisor (your gut).
When your gut says yes and fear says no, it’s a safe bet that you should take that leap.
5. Find peers and mentors
You know who might know a bit more than yourself and your gut? People who have been there and done that! Isaac Newton once said -
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Attempt to find real life mentors relevant to your business and your goals. People who are one step or a thousand steps ahead of where you want to be. Most people will empathise and be willing to help.
Remember, you probably represent the younger, wide-eyed version of them. You have no excuse not to have mentors because if you can’t find physical ones, trusty Google can provide you with many online mentors. Study your business heroes and role models to learn how they did it.
Lastly, find peers! Surround yourself with people on the same level and mission as you. Entrepreneurship can get very lonely and dark. You are the 1%, the one that has dared to go where most people won't. It can be hard to find people you can relate to you in your natural circle. Seek out people that know what it’s like, can keep you accountable and motivated when times get tough.
Emanuel Freer is a marketing, events and social media expert with a business focused on electronic music events. He is a passionate entrepreneur with a goal to build many successful businesses in his lifetime.