Being an entrepreneur is tough. At times, it down right eats away at your brain (and body if you let it). But if you plan to get through “freshman year” and continue to build something so epic that it makes the invention of the iPod look like the pet rock; then there are some lessons that you better learn before you’rE drenched in night sweats from nightmares you have about overdue bills, missed emails and lack of a social life.
Check out these tips to avoid that Freshman 15 (the weight entrepreneurship places on you in year one).
1. Money follows passion
A big obstacle that many new entrepreneurs face is a lack of sales. They wonder why no one is buying their fresh fashion items or hiring them to speak to in front of rooms full of people. That’s because your audience doesn’t believe you are passionate about what you’re offering. You have to build authority in your products and services, and a lot of that comes from your passion in what it is that you’re offering. People know when someone is trying to sell them and when they are being valued. Provide value and your clients will provide their pocketbooks.
2. Ask for help
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road. There are many tasks, deadlines and goals to meet. The issue is, there’s ONLY ONE YOU. Whether you have a team of you and your significant other, or you and a football-team-sized staff, you simply can’t do it all yourself. Ask others to help you out. Some might do it for free and some might ask for compensation (not always money either), but you will need help. An additional helpful tip is to strive to get help that shares the same passion you do about your business.
3. Automate when possible
I always tell people, “I want to be everywhere without have to be anywhere.” Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t engage with your clients and community, but there’s nothing wrong with elements of automation to make entrepreneurship that much easier. Things such as email marketing, social media management, project management tools, bookkeeping software, and the list goes on, are important components for any business. The more you automate early on, the more you can engage with your followers in live settings and extend your reach.
4. Discover hidden talents
You started your business because you are good at something. You sew, blog, speak, design, etc. Your business usually stems from one thing that you do really well. But guess what? You probably do more than one thing really well. Even if not really well, I’m sure you can do more than one thing well enough to leverage those talents. Maybe you made your own website for your business. Start designing websites for extra cash. In developing your blog, you realized you were good at making cover art. Sell your services for graphic design. You learn a lot about your capabilities in your freshman year as an entrepreneur. It’s time to offer them up for extra cash to invest back into your primary business.
5. Periodically zone out
A lot of entrepreneurs say you have to grind all day and night. #TeamNoSleep right? Wrong! There are plenty of days in the year to drink Redbull and coffee until you’re full up to your eyes, but don’t forget to detach yourself from time to time. It’s good to step away, release and reset. Stepping away from the work will not only clear up your business thinking, but your family and friends will love you that much more.
6. Set realistic goals
Remember when I said money follows passion? Well, don’t expect that passion to generate millions of dollars in the first year. Not saying it’s not possible, but the probability is unlikely. But goal setting doesn’t stop with sale conversions. Set business goals, even if it’s a daily goal of writing one blog post. Maybe your weekly goal is to contact at least 5 companies about affiliate marketing. Whatever the goal is, make it realistic. The more you achieve, the more morale you’ll have about your business, making entrepreneurship more fulfilling.
7. Build connections
Just as you need to ask for help and spend time with your family and friends, you should be building connections through your business. Maybe you found someone on Twitter with a common interest, or even a mentor to show you the ropes. The key is to build strong relationships with people and businesses to help you grow as an entrepreneur and as a person.
Keep the above tips in mind during your freshman year when growing your business and you should do just fine. Sophomore slumps are for suckers.
Dr. Eric Patrick is a blogger for Black Market Exchange and DJ for their Money + Music mixtapes. He promotes financial literacy through hip-hop and modern media. He also does his own stunts. Follow him on Twitter @HipHopStockDoc or Instagram @black_market_exchange for the latest theatrics.