It’s true that when you’re self-employed you can work in your PJ’s, take Fido for midday walks, and make your own decisions. These small freedoms sound sexy when the 8-to-5 grind gets old, but the freedom you crave doesn’t come without its challenges.
Most new or future entrepreneurs focus on the physical changes that being their own boss will bring into their lives: working from home, no commute, setting up an office space, and hiring staff. Few, however, give any thought to the internal changes necessary to climb the ladder of success.
These 6 mindset shifts aren’t optional; they are beliefs and behaviors that will make or break your success.
Mindset # 1. The buck stops here.
Even if you hate having a boss there are some pros to it. Bosses make the decisions, give you deadlines, take care of the issues and details, and assume the responsibility for the outcome. Now you’re the boss, and it’s all on your shoulders. This may sound like exactly what you want, and in many ways, it’s incredibly amazing. However, these responsibilities can quickly become a heavy burden if your mindset and support system aren’t up to par.
You can always lean on your spouse, friends, and family, but soon you’ll realize that they don’t understand your joys, fears, and business model at the deepest level. Build a support team to hear you out when you need to vent, collaborate, and receive unbiased feedback. Align yourself with business organizations, hire a coach, and seek at least one industry mentor.
Mindset #2. Skill is not enough.
Many of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with are talented individuals who have mastered a skill: accounting, consulting, remodeling, coaching, or inventing things, for instance. The mindset they take into their business is, “I do this so well, why let someone take all the profits?” What they don’t realize is that running a business takes a whole different set of skills–skills they either haven’t developed yet or don’t possess. These new business owners can end up being lousy entrepreneurs who may lose everything they’ve risked.
This does not mean that you can’t learn to run a successful business. Before you jump ship on the day job, read and listen to all of the leadership and business-building materials you can get your hands on. And again, mentors and a coach will prove invaluable even at this early stage.
Mindset #3. Marketing is a must-have strategy, and it costs money.
A marketing budget is a top priority, yet most new entrepreneurs don’t even consider a marketing plan, let alone the budget to support it. A website and weekly attendance at a networking meeting are not enough.
Define your ideal client to the smallest detail and get to know them as well as you know your best friend. Then, you’ll understand where and how to reach them, what pushes their buttons, and what makes them tick. Everything you do needs to be built upon this foundation. Get real about the costs associated with reaching and converting them–and then save double that amount.
Mindset #4. How you think and feel has a direct impact on your life and business.
No matter how exciting it feels, deserting the perks of employment is frightening. It’s often around the 3-year point that entrepreneurs come to me for help–and they are at the breaking point. They have created a barrier of doubt, blame, and fear. I guarantee that if you have such a barrier in place you will not achieve your goals and dreams.
If you are smart about how you prepare to launch your business these negative emotions will be less prevalent. Don’t implement an idea just because you think it’s a good one, you must know that your plan and strategy are sound. Look for the evidence of future success: proof of concept, unique value, steady cash flow, and a proper budget. Then, banish any doubt in your ability to succeed.
Mindset 5. Sometimes, new ideas get in the way.
Remember, there is no one to hold you accountable and keep you on track now. When entrepreneurs allow their minds to travel to newer, better ideas–only to bring none of them to fruition–it means they lack clarity. It also means that they have tedious work to do and wish to avoid it. Creative people aren’t built to implement everything. It’s far more rewarding to think big and work on your business, rather than in it.
Schedule time to let your mind wander; if you don’t have a balance of nose-to-the-grindstone and time to get lost in the possibilities of “what if” you will lose your passion. Write down your ideas but avoid any temptation to act upon them until the timing is right and the funds are available.
Mindset #6. Spending vs. Investing.
Entrepreneurs are often quick to spend money on cool things like tech gadgets, a hip office space, and even on-site exercise equipment. When it comes to attending conferences, up-leveling their skills, executing strategic marketing plans, and engaging professional assistance they become thrifty. Think of personal and professional development opportunities as making an investment, rather than spending money.
Tangible objects are merely things; you are your company’s greatest asset. Soon, your future employees will become investable assets. Budget your expenditures carefully but don’t’ skimp on education, personal growth, and experts who can contribute to your success.
Work on yourself first and act upon the physical aspects of owning a business when the time is right. There’s a world of opportunity out there. When you keep your mindset healthy and real, the sky is the limit.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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