A long, long time ago I decided that I couldn’t work for someone else all my life.
I couldn’t punch a clock for the next 40 years of my life knowing I’d made someone else very, very wealthy. I wouldn’t retire with a golden handshake unless that handshake came with several zeros on a check.
I decided that if there was a way for me to get me some of that, I would. I was going to entrepreneur like no one else ever entrepreneured before. Ever!
Boy, was I wrong.
My first business venture as a true blue CEO of my own educational consultancy went straight to hell because I hadn’t learned these five lessons.
Wanna know more? Read on!
Lesson 1: It’s not about being a boss.
It’s about being a leader. Leading by example. Turning up early and leaving late. Looking the part. Inspiring your employees. Bringing value to your clients.
Forget about being boss. Only idiots think that it’s that easy. It wasn’t. It isn’t.
Lesson 2: Finding the right investor or partner takes time
When I started Back2Basix Educational Consultants I was so excited when an investor showed interest. You see, it was two years of presentations, business plans and investor meetings before I finally had my elevator pitch down pat. Two years of negotiations, disappointments, and going to bed every night wondering if the next day would bring the success I’d worked so hard for.
When I had a “bite” and signed with my new partner, I wasn’t too concerned with the new “rules’ he suddenly insisted on. Rules like only speaking through an advisor, when we spoke quite candidly one to one before. This became a problem when additional funding was needed to attract more clients. I wasn’t too concerned with the “other” business he “ran on the side that I shouldn’t talk about” because that was there before I was.
It was only when I was locked out of my own office that the reality hit. He’d kept the company name, the client list and some of the employees.
Lesson 3: Keep your budget tight
Probably the hardest thing to do initially is not invest in your business. Business cards, logo and web design, technology and human resources. These things are necessary and they cost. But there are ways of doing it.
I didn’t really need a physical office since alot of the work was on the road and from home. But I was convinced by my backer that it was the professional thing to do to have an office to meet clients at. Of course this had to be factored into the costs and our service price increased. Clients that were ready to do business before didn’t respond well to the price increase.
I also didn’t need a personal assistant, but those days on the road needed someone fending calls, making appointments and making endless cups of coffee for when I was in the office. Now,of course, I realise I should have had a virtual assistant.
Lesson 4: Be clear and consistent with your vision for your company
When I hired my first employees, I was consistent and focused with what they needed to know and why. I did training sessions at my dinner table over weekends. Get togethers turned into PD opportunities. I sang my song to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Somewhere along the way with ROI becoming a part of my everyday reality along with board meetings, marketing meetings, finance meetings, legal meetings and all the other things a CEO is responsible for, I lost sight of what my passion was.
I forgot to let others feel what I felt. I brought in new employees and let the first lot take over the responsibility for showing them MY dream, my vision. So it was hardly surprising that they didn’t perform.
Lesson 5: Don’t let failure define you
It’s been four years since Back2Basix tanked. The dream of being an entrepreneur doesn’t end when things don’t go well. A true entrepreneur will process the failure and use it to springboard the next idea. I have used these lessons to make changes in how I react and strategize for the future.
I am not giving up, but rather sharpening my skill set, learning from great people who have already done what I want to do and am looking forward to my next business venture.
Do you have a dream of being an entrepreneur? Tell me about it in the comments.
Until next I blog,