The other morning I woke up to the realization that this month marks a significant anniversary for me. I’ve been self-employed for ten years! In a way, launching my new website is my anniversary gift to myself. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of creating a space where I can express myself, and hopefully serve to inspire and help others.
I’ve only just begun the process of reflecting on what it means to have been self-employed for a decade. Instead of asking myself where the time has gone, I am thinking of all the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been and the many lessons I’ve learned. It’s been a very full ten years!
I’ve heard it said that the way a person does one thing is the way they do all things. I firmly believe this to be true. Here are some of the qualities I believe are important to be able to succeed in business (and life) over the long term.
Be VISION AND GOAL-DRIVEN
Without a clear vision and well-defined goals it is easy to be taken off-course as an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to set goals in the workplace on their behalf. They have many bosses (known as clients) with their own vision and goals. The best clients have goals that overlap with yours. I have been very fortunate to have many long-term clients who fall into that category. It’s important to review your short and long-term goals regularly. Make sure you are investing at least some of your time on your own long-term vision!
Every business owner wants to attract loyal customers, the life-blood of their organization. I wonder how often business owners think about how loyal they are to their customers? It’s always been important to me to approach my clients’ business as if it were my own. Once my husband and I opened our own business with employees, a landlord, a franchisor, monthly expenses and so on, this approach took on a whole new significance for me.
We all have days that go “out the window” and find ourselves in reaction mode, no matter how proactive we are. But when the reactive days, hours and moments outnumber the time we are in proactive mode, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to reach our goals. Some challenges are more significant than others, but the more quickly I can bounce back from a set-back, the sooner things get back on track.
Resilience is persistence over the long term. So many people try the entrepreneurial life and end up going back to employment. Owning your own business is hard work and requires being in it for the long run. The first couple of years are extremely demanding. The learning curve is at its sharpest and uncertainty is at its highest level. Fortunately, inspiration and energy levels are at their highest at the same time. Just like anything worth having, it is absolutely necessary to stick with a business long enough to see the results of your time, energy and attention.
It is possible to give your all to your business and lead a healthy, active life. Period. End of story. If you are a busy entrepreneur and you don’t give time to taking care of your body, there will come a time that you wish that you had. I love my business(es) and have always enjoyed my work, but I value my health more. In August 2011, after an extremely frustrating “run”, I decided to commit to my health on a whole new level. Laura, the “accidental athlete” was born that day. Every single area of my life has been improved by my new level of physical well-being, including my business. Yours will be too, so make sure you’re moving your body as well as minding your business.