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The Necessary Slow Burn of Business Growth

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


The Necessary Slow Burn of Business GrowthConsider this. Each spring it’s common practice to burn the tall grasses of the prairie. The reasons for this man made fire are those to benefit the prairie and it’s natural habitat – to remove old growth, put nutrients back into the soil and promote new growth and abundance. The prairie needs this fire to exist. As reckless and destructive as this once seemed to me as a child, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the prairie’s need for this slow, controlled burn. But now as an adult, reexamining this yearly ritual made me question another aspect of these prairie fires.

Why not just use gasoline, light a quick blaze and take care of the whole field at once? Why does it need to be a slow and smoldering fire – a process that seems to be so needlessly drawn out?

The answer to this question is actually quite strategic and far from needless. The slow, controlled burn of these tall prairie grasses is necessary for achieving all the ecological benefits that it does. Gasoline would absolutely ruin the soil and prevent these tall grasses from ever growing again. And a large wildfire would wreak havoc on other parts of the ecosystem (not to mention holds the potential to easily burn out of control). So why am I choosing to tell you so much about these prairie fires? It’s because I see an important lesson on life and business building within these flames – a lesson that speaks to both patience and strategy.

Letting it burn (slowly)

For anyone who has ever attempted to build a business, the process of growth is unpredictable and unstable at best. We want to believe, that like any model growth chart illustrates, our business will grow with dramatic spikes until we blast off the chart. But this is neither common nor sustainable for 99% of businesses out there. Instead, like a prairie fire, the healthiest and most lasting business growth is a steady smoldering that inches onward day by day. I define this as healthy growth because it’s growth that blazes a new trail while giving us enough time to stay right in tow. We control it; it does not control us. This is also the type of growth that strengthens a business as oppose to a wildfire which could burn it all down. Most importantly and much like the prairie fires, this slow, controlled burn weeds out the old while laying the rich foundation for future growth. It’s a change that moves at the pace of evolution, and it should be our goal to evolve patiently and strategically as such.

Avoiding the temptation to rush

With technology at our fingertips and our society of ever-connectedness, our accessibility to “gasoline” is endless. This causes a great temptation to rush the process of the slow burn just because we have the means to do so. But as ecologists have proven and stressed, this quick and fast method is not always beneficial, and sometimes harmful, depending upon what you’re trying to achieve. For the slow burn of business growth, you’re trying to achieve much more than a burnt and barren field. You want to preserve the ground and burn only what is necessary. Gasoline won’t allow you to do this. We have to avoid the temptation and let things progress on their own. Instead, we often want to ignite the fire with things like an overkill of paid advertising (this is often a waste of precious capital in the beginning) or gimmicky deals (this often pulls in the wrong client base). Such “shoot-from-the-hip” strategies may produce big flames for display, but at some point these flames will cause destruction or someone will get burned. As I’ve mentioned before, such growth is neither sustainable nor beneficial in the long run.

In life or in business, have you ever personally experienced the temptation to rush a critical process? Maybe this is a process of growth, a process of healing or a process of change. While it’s tempting to want to overcome these uncomfortable and even painful moments in life quickly, rushing the process can prevent us from receiving all of the benefits they’re meant to bring. Learn to appreciate the slow fires we have lit and know that they are with the purpose and intent to make us stronger and more abundant.

 

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Top 10 Blog Posts on Life and Entrepreneurship in 2015

Top 10 of the year (done in 3d)

I feel like I need to start by asking the obligatory question of “Where has the year gone?” But truthfully, I feel like it’s been quite a long year packed with great memories, exciting achievements and whole lot of interesting writing.

Before we close out 2015 and turn our calendars to the New Year, I wanted to take one last opportunity to revisit some of my favorite blog posts. We covered just about everything you could imagine including branding, communication, personality types, time management and of course my cat, Pinot.

Join me on this brief trip down memory lane with a list of the top 10 blog posts on life and entrepreneurship in 2015 from Bennis Inc. May 2016 be filled with just as much insight and inspiration!

How Do an Introvert and Extrovert Live Together in Peace?

Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or boss, co-existing with the opposite personality type brings a unique set of challenges. This blog explores my personal experience as an introvert living (and often working) with my husband who is an extrovert.

Read the original blog here.

How to Rebrand Your Business

This blog is the first post in a 5-part series that was inspired by my website redesign (check it out at www.bennisinc.com!) So often, businesses miss the signs that they are in need of rebranding or are overwhelmed by the task and don’t know where to begin. These posts provide a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

Read the original blog here.

The 4 Most Powerful Words You Can Ask Someone

In between my many articles focused on communications, public relations and marketing, I also like to insert posts that are philosophical and geared toward life in general. This is one of those posts…and one of my favorites from 2015. Find out what four words I’m talking about and why we should use them today.

Read the original blog here.

7 Ways to Use a Press Release Beyond Pitching to Media

I never like to see good content go to waste which is what inspired this particular blog post on repurposing a press release. Even if you don’t get a single media hit, you have the power to get the most out of this content with how you personally promote it across your communication channels.

Read the original blog here.

5 Tips for Running a Productive Business Meeting

I love efficiency and good time management which is why I often hate sitting in boring business meetings. This blog post received a ton of love from my readers who can relate! Take a look at how you can run a more productive business meeting in 2016.

Read the original blog here.

5 Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

Of course my cat, Pinot, had to make an appearance at least once in 2015, so this is her post. What I’ve learned by observing her actions are usually more “what not to do,” but she inspired me with some solid advice this year as well.

Read the original blog here.

How to Professionally Fire a Client

This was among the most read and shared Bennis Inc blog posts in 2015. Breaking off a bad relationship with a client is a hard and uncomfortable topic for many business owners. In this post I offer advice on how to identify these “must-go” clients and how to remain professional when showing them the door.

Read the original blog here.

Why Technology is Killing These 11 Essential Skills

So often we read about the wonderful advancements and achievements of technology, but it’s important to also stop and examine how technology may be making our life more difficult. In this blog post I challenge the “helpful” aspects of technology by pointing out 11 essential skills it is hindering in our society.

Read the original blog here.

6 Valuable Lessons I Learned from Working from Home

I am a passionate advocate for the virtual work environment, but I am also constantly learning how to balance and manage the unique challenges that come with working from home. This blog post takes a fresh look at the lessons I’ve learned specifically in 2015 about how to be efficient and effective when working from home.

Read the original blog here.

8 Reasons Why We Never Have Enough Free Time

This is the perfect post to end my top 10 list for 2015. As we hopefully get some rest over the holidays, we can all benefit from reflecting upon why we might feel like we never have enough free time. January tends to be among the most stressful and hectic months for many business owners. Prepare yourself for a calm and collected 2016 by learning about these time management pitfalls.

Read the original blog here.

Want to explore most blog posts from Stephanie Shirley and Bennis Inc? Be our guest! Click here to browse business and success, here to browse life and here to explore all the rest.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Business & Success, Life, Wisdom

 

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Dear New Entrepreneur…A Letter to My Younger Self

young entrepreneur

It was July 2011 when I handed HR my two-week notice. I still have this simple letter, modeled after a template I found online when I googled “professional resignation.” I put no more effort into creating this life-changing document than I had put into what was supposed to be my “dream job” for the past 4 months.

Before taking the entrepreneurial leap to start my own Public Relations consulting business, I worked in the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Legislative Affairs. The title and the perception were the only things remotely impressive and glamorous about this job, I assure you.

My tiny cubicle, stable salary and paid time off, while a luxury for most fresh college grads, all contributed to creating a comfortable prison that just might have kept me locked away until I earned my vested retirement, had I not longed for so much more.

Blame it on my entrepreneurial spirit – or foolish confidence, but I was willing to walk away from the guarantee of a stable, but unfulfilling career, for the chance at creating something so much greater.

Nearly five years later, I thank this young entrepreneur who wasted no time pursuing her dreams. Every day I work to make her sacrifices and uncertainties worth something by continuing to grow this business while never slipping back into the monotony of a career I don’t truly love.

Like most entrepreneurs, I wish I could somehow equip my younger self with the wisdom I’ve since gained from years of experience. Though I can’t, I can hopefully inspire other new entrepreneurs to take the leap – and maybe, just maybe – change the world…or at least their own!


Dear New Entrepreneur:

I know you’re busy, and likely skeptical about the advice I want to give you, so I will get straight to the point. You know a lot; a lot more than you might give yourself credit for right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand to learn a few things from a fellow entrepreneur who is a few years ahead of you on this journey.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do – I know that’s exactly what you’re trying to escape. But I would like to tell you that you’re on the right track, your gut is your best navigation device and the passion you feel today will continue to grow, despite what people may try and tell you. Please read on. I promise it won’t take long and it just might be that reassurance you’re so desperately looking for right now.

My advice to you, new entrepreneur is this…

Office space and employees don’t determine your success.

Right now you may be working from home as a sole proprietor just waiting for your first chance to lock into a commercial lease and hire your best friends. Stop looking for ways to tie yourself down and add to your overhead. This is everything you ran away from in Corporate America. Learn to love the freedom and efficiency of working from home with no one to answer to but yourself. Hire fellow contractors only as you need them, get to know the best coffee shops to hold client meetings and enjoy keeping so much more of your salary – and sanity.

It’s okay to walk away from a “bad” client…even if you really need the money.

Go with your gut here. If a client tries to undercut your pricing or negotiate you into a corner, be willing to walk away. There will always be more, I promise. Yeah, you could really use the money…you always will be able to “really use the money.” The drawbacks to taking on a client that is a bad fit for your business will always cost you more in the long run than they’re willing to pay. Set boundaries and respect your values. You will learn to appreciate those “good” clients so much more!

You will always be surprised by those who want to see you succeed…and those who do not.

There will always be “friends” who you think will support you way more than they actually do. It will hurt and may make you question your decision to become an entrepreneur. Your decision is not what you should be second-guessing, rather it’s your friendship with this person. But don’t take it too hard; there will also be people you barely know that will rise up as your greatest cheerleaders. Appreciate these people and do the same for them in return!

Basic skills, like mail merging and stuffing envelopes, will be just as important five years from now.

When I first started out, I thought someday I might hire someone who would send my invoices, set meetings on my calendar and answer my phone calls. Five years later and the most capable person to handle these tasks is still me. These basic skills will always be important for running your business. Stay as hands on as it makes sense. Don’t outsource something just because you think you’re above it. Keep your overhead – and your ego – in check.

Make friends with your competition.

You will meet many other businesses along your journey that appear to do exactly what you do. Before you choose to secretly stalk their social media accounts and compare your client list, sit down and get to know them! Learning more about businesses I once deemed as competition has helped to create some of the best “power partnerships” I have. It’s amazing how once you really get to know about each other and the ideal client you are each hoping to find, you will realize you don’t overlap at all. Rather, you are great referrals for one another that can work together to help you both thrive.

Never make excuses

Mistakes will happen. Hopefully they are small, but they also might be big. No matter the size or scope, take ownership of any mistake and never make excuses. If something was truly a mistake or oversight, you have nothing of which to be ashamed. We are fallible humans, even us entrepreneurs. A reasonable client will understand this simple truth, as they are bound to make a few mistakes too. You will build credibility and trust if you own up to a mistake quickly and openly without blaming it on something, or someone else.

Only you can determine what you are worth

Deciding how you will price your services will be one of the hardest parts of running your business. You will have moments when you feel horribly underpaid and moments when you question whether you’re asking for too much. My best advice is to be strategic and remain consistent. This doesn’t mean you will (or should) charge the same rates for the rest of your life. Your experience will increase and so should your fees. But developing a strategy for how you will price your projects early on will save you from second-guessing, losing clients and losing income in the future.

Work toward creating a lifestyle, not just a business

In an effort to run a business, it’s easy to make the mistake of letting the business run you. Don’t recreate the same hell you fought so hard to leave to start your entrepreneurial journey. Take time off, travel, spend some money on fun things (all within reason, of course…it doesn’t take much)! Always keep in mind your goal of creating a particular lifestyle – one that affords you to be flexible and fulfilled – not just earning a certain income no matter the real costs.

Begin and end every day with affirmations

The entrepreneurial journey can be rough at times, that goes without saying. Amidst your efforts to be self-motivated and fearless, also take it easy on yourself when you need it. Promise to begin and end every day with affirmations as to all the things you’re doing well and that are going right. It’s easy to forget and take for granted life’s little blessings when you’re so focused on ironing out every wrinkle. Appreciate the small gestures, like a green light when you really need it, that are reasons to smile.

That’s all I have for you, new entrepreneur. It’s not all the advice I could give, but it’s all I feel you really need right now. Remember…after all, you’ve got this!

What piece of advice speaks to you? Do you have other words of wisdom to offer new entrepreneurs based upon your own experience? Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
 

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Finding Stability In Constant Change

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Finding Stability In Constant ChangeAsk a business owner, entrepreneur or self-employed person to describe the qualities of their chosen career path and I would be shocked to hear them use the word “stable.” Stability is a very desirable perk for any job that simply isn’t in the description of entrepreneurship. This should come as no surprise to those of us who have willingly ventured down this path. We know what we signed up for – and we also know the benefits that offset the lack of stability. But is it possible for the chaos-embracing entrepreneur to find stability amidst this constant change? Can change be turned into a constant?

I think so.

Each day is wildly different. There is little rhythm to the type of projects I work on day to day and month to month. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because so much of my work is hard to plan for or anticipate, I’ve found stability in creating a schedule for the work I do complete on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, each morning my to-do list always begins with logging on to WordPress and commenting on five other blogs. Every Friday I write my Bennis Inc blog post for the following week. Then of course there is the client work that is regular and reoccurring such as scheduling social media updates or blog writing that gain a place in my work “schedule.” By having a set time carved out in my schedule for this anticipated work, I can then dedicate my remaining time to the unanticipated – and sometimes urgent – projects that always come up. Not only is this good time management, but it gives me a feeling of stability and regularity amidst the ever-changing variety and quantity of my work.

Another way in which I’ve learned to feel stable in a career field that most certainly is not is that I’ve changed the way in which I view contracted work. Each month my work may change, but what won’t change is my ability to seek out new work as I need it. With the skill to hunt you’ll never go hungry. Even as clients come and go, I never run the same risk of having my income go to zero in one day’s time. It would be a slow and gradual process for which I could react and prepare. In other words, I don’t carry the same fear as someone who could be laid off. So while there is stability in a regular income and a bi-weekly paycheck, there is always the risk that it could all come to a halt almost instantly. As a traditional employee, the process of being interviewed, hired and placed on payroll is much longer than signing a new client. And due to contracts, I will always have at least one month’s notice of losing a client rather than only receiving a pink slip and the rest of the day to clear my desk. Realizing this unique benefit of entrepreneurship, I now know stability can be found in the confidence I have to always be able to seek out new clients and more work.

The career path of the self-emplyed is in no way predictable or certain, but if you look in the right places you will find that stability does exist. It may not make for the biggest lifeboat, but it can still help to keep you afloat until you can again find calm waters.

 
 

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True Test of Entrepreneurship: Are You Interested or Committed?

True Test of Entrepreneurship Are You Interested or CommittedThis month will mark the four year anniversary of the day I decided to make a hard right turn on a promising career to pursue the vast and unknown journey of an entrepreneur. I took the leap and landed on my feet – not out of luck, but out of a fiery commitment to do everything within my power to make this work.

That’s not to say I haven’t had to jump into survival mode when life threw curve balls, but I’m sitting here, typing this reflection today to tell you that there is a stark contrast between being interested in entrepreneurship and being fully committed to it.

Throughout the many lessons I’ve learned about entrepreneurship over these past four years, one of the most reoccurring was the difference between interest and commitment. I believe the quote by Kenneth Blanchard says it best, “…When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

If you happen to find yourself at a crossroads of whether you’re interested in or committed to becoming an entrepreneur, consider the words that best describe your motivation and what category they fall into below:

When you are merely interested in something, you do it because it is…

Fun – Of course something that is fun will capture your interest and ignite a spark of excitement. When the task brings you joy, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as possible doing it. Unfortunately, many aspects of entrepreneurship are not fun, and are actually quite stressful.

New – The thrill of something new is always an intoxicating feeling. The unchartered territory and unlimited opportunities of entrepreneurship are some of the most common reasons why people are drawn to this lifestyle. But like anything that was once new, it will lose its shine and as a result, lose the attention of someone who was only “interested” in the venture for its newness.

Easy – One of the biggest determinants between whether you are interested in something or committed to something is whether you will still pursue the task once it is no longer easy. When we are interested in something, like entrepreneurship, it’s attractive when it’s obvious, easy and straightforward. As soon as the road begins to bend and a few tree trunks fall across your path, those who are merely “interested” will usually find a clear path to get the heck out of there!

Popular – Peer pressure is a very real force even long after we’ve left high school. In society, the career choices that seem “cool,” glamorous, interesting and trendy are attractive paths to follow. But what happens when that once popular idea loses the limelight – or worse yet, becomes criticized? Commitment means continuing to do what you said you were going to do, long after the popularity has worn off. A person who is merely interested in becoming an entrepreneur will move on to the next shiny object time and time again.

When you are fully committed to something, you ALSO do it because it is…

Fulfilling – Commitment is often accompanied by long hours and tough decisions. Some people may not understand or like what you are doing and boldly make this opinion known. But when you are committed to becoming an entrepreneur, it’s for reasons much deeper than those listed in the “interested” section above. One of these reasons is that the work is fulfilling to you. It’s a labor of love. You aren’t dependent upon popularity and publicity to keep you motivated; rather, the motivation comes from personal fulfillment.

Meaningful – In addition to pursuing a passion or filling void in your life, commitment is often connected to doing something that has a deep, personal meaning to you. In the case of entrepreneurship, we can find everyday examples of people who have started a business or non-profit to solve a problem that has impacted them personally. Helping other people, who have experienced your same problem, live better lives adds meaning to our own.

Worth the effort – We’ve all heard the notion, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” When you are committed to an entrepreneurial career, you don’t look for the shortcuts or easy ways out. You don’t want a “get rich quick” plan and you know that the words rich and quick rarely work together. It takes a lot of effort, but your commitment comes from believing it is worth it. You are prepared to invest a lot of hours into this venture – and you’re not looking for a quick return.

Your calling – Finally, and likely the best way to determine whether you are merely interested in entrepreneurship or whether you are fully committed to pursuing this unique career is deciding whether it is your calling in life. The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t just stumble upon this path, they were drawn to it, usually from as early as they can remember. While every journey has twists and turns, committed entrepreneurs will agree that all signs pointed them toward this type of career. Even amidst setbacks, you will not feel like a failure if you are going after what you are called to do.

Have you ever had to decipher between whether you were merely interested in something or fully committed to it? Share your personal experience by commenting below.

 

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment

5 Ways to Create a Culture of EmpowermentIf you’re tired of obscure strategies about more meetings and holding monthly birthday parties, try out some of our ideas to help your team feel empowered (and maybe even a little inspired). While communication and making sure employees feel heard are important, they are hard to quantify. The five tips listed below can help you take empowerment out of theory and put it into practice.

Give Snaps

This idea is a twist on the usual public acknowledgement idea – and it was inspired (without any shame) from the movie “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.” Everyone on the team writes down something positive about another member of the team and puts it into the “snap cup.” In my former office, it was a pineapple bowl.

Then the facilitator of the activity reads each compliment out loud, and everyone gives snaps (literally snapping their fingers) for the person being acknowledged. I sometimes ran entire snap meetings centering on just one team member. It may seem like a silly idea, but I saw my team start looking for positive things in one another – and then expecting great things. It was a simple, non-threatening way to create an environment of positivity and to form a stronger team.

Pass the Mic

As the leader or manager, it’s easy to monopolize meetings with all the important things you have to say. But when your team only hears one voice, they become stagnant and can start to feel disengaged. There’s no better way to get them engaged than to give them the floor. You can either ask for volunteers or make assignments, but every team meeting should include some kind of training from at least one team member.

You can outline parameters for the kinds of training you’re looking for, but if you really want employees to take ownership, leave it as open-ended as possible. I’ve seen employees read “The Giving Tree” or turn the culminating battle scene in “Braveheart” into an inspiring message about taking risks and going for it. And the best part of this practice is that you, who are usually the one filling everyone else’s cup, get a chance to be inspired as well.

Give Feedback on the Spot

Employee surveys are just fine, but if you want to see immediate results and truly empower employees you need to speak up when you see something happening. If a team member just went out of their way to make a customer happy, go out of your way to make sure they get acknowledged for their efforts. If someone found a creative way to resolve a recurring problem, give them props and ask them to put together a training to share at a team meeting so everyone can benefit from their resourcefulness.

And encourage everyone in the office to do the same. You shouldn’t be the only one giving feedback. This is a discipline, though – it doesn’t simply happen. Set alerts on your calendar to remind yourself to look for on-the-spot opportunities. Once you start looking every day, it will become a habit. And this habit puts that open communication you’ve been striving for into practice.

Use an App

When it comes to employee empowerment, there’s an app for that. Motivosity is a program designed to automate, track, and facilitate employee engagement and acknowledgment. To have a truly collaborative workplace, you need to have a culture of empowerment and creating or transforming a culture takes discipline. Motivosity helps you get there.

From birthday and work anniversary acknowledgments to peer-to-peer rewards, this website/app combo streamlines your empowerment program and reminds everyone to give props to their coworkers. Motivosity also provides a fun, engaging way to capitalize on the competitiveness of your team by turning company and team goals into a game. And the program tracks everything that happens, which helps you identify which strategies are working and which ones are a waste of time.

Give Them Some Control

One of the best ways to help an employee feel empowered is to give them control over some aspects of their professional life. Whether it’s letting them decide how to transform the office break room or giving them the option to work from home part of the time, a sense of control can be more powerful than a raise.

Letting employees have input – especially in regard to their work schedule – shows you trust them and value their contribution. Remote work is becoming more common, especially for PR-related roles like social media managers and bloggers who rely solely on the Internet. And the benefits in regard to employee satisfaction and productivity definitely outweigh any perceived risks.

Whatever you decide to do to create a more inclusive, empowered workplace, make sure to be consistent and keep it going. Stopping and starting random initiatives only erodes trust and enthusiasm. While there isn’t one magic answer for helping your employees feel appreciated, you can start making a positive difference by implementing simple, concrete strategies that get everyone involved.

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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Entrepreneurship in 2015 (Guest Blog by Amy Klimek of ZipRecruiter)

The following guest post comes to us from Amy Klimek, an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter. Enjoy her insights and expertise on the topic of entrepreneurship. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more about Amy and her business and to connect!

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Entrepreneurship in 2015

Insights and Encouragement from an Expert

Entrepreneurship is equally rewarding as it is difficult. Though you may be free from the shackles of retail and corporate, such freedom comes with a price. As far as 2015 goes, the time has never been better for you to finally build that start-up you’ve always dreamed of having. Just be sure you understand the responsibility that is inextricably linked to power.

Start It
Too many people talk about their dreams but never act on them. They dedicate hours of the day envisioning that perfect business but never actually take the steps to achieve it only to regret their failure to act in their older years. For most, it’s fear that holds them back. Because we no longer have anything to fear, our mind makes up some that exist outside of our comfort zones. Anything that is not part of what it is used to is deemed impossible and not worth it. If you’re going to successfully start on your own path, it’s time to learn how to overcome that negative voice. Instead, use it to guide what precautionary steps you want to take to give yourself a safety net to fall into should something go wrong.

THE-MOST-DANGEROUS-RISK-OF-ALL

Understand the Competition
Now that you are putting together the research, you will inevitably come across blogs that give you reasons not to go after your dream and, specifically, the dream in your field. They all decry the sheer number of people vying for the same thing as reason enough to give up. Never listen to these people. If you wind up falling down a rabbit hole of negativity, stop researching for the day. What you need to realize is the reality of the situation. Those that generally enjoy what they do will share useful knowledge and be very positive about their accomplishments. The other 90% lack the talent and discipline required to succeed, no matter what credentials they try to throw at you. Instead, focus only on the 10%. These are the experts in their field. Though it will take you years to achieve what they have accomplished, they are great examples to look to for motivation and ideas.

10 Year Rule
Overnight sensations are a dream. The only people that earn this title are children that appear on television shows. What the media never reveals are the years of hard work the professionals put into their craft before they finally caught the public’s attention. Dubbed the “10 year rule”, John Hayes researched this phenomenon by taking the lives of famous artists (think Mozart) and statistically looking at how long it took each of them to begin producing their most famous pieces. In the end, 10 years was the magic number. Each and every master required a decade of dedication to their concentration before major success came into play. You are no different. Accept this and use it when you feel like you should just give up. Success takes time. It is a slow and steady pace that will get you to where you want to be.

Be Flexible
You might be the personality type that obsesses over every little detail, and with a venture into entrepreneurship, you’ve already plotted out every modicum of possibility. Unfortunately, this still won’t be enough to prepare for the future. Think big, plan small. Have a single goal in mind but do not be dead set on the path you take to get there. What may seem like something out of left field could turn out to be a well-placed opportunity that opens even more doors for you. Basically, pursue every avenue. As an entrepreneur, this translates into how you find your first clients. The importance of this lies in a single word: experience. If you haven’t already built a career in the corporate world, you are still young and lacking resume fodder that potential clients use as a means to judge your credibility. In these beginning years, you will not have much behind you and need to be willing to take on projects that don’t fit your ideal match but still bring some value to the brand.

Build What You Believe
As an entrepreneur, the world is your oyster. You are now free to pursue anything. While scary, it is nonetheless a freeing feeling. No longer are you wasting your time for someone else. You are working for you. A popular quote entrepreneurs cite describes that they would rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 hours a week for someone else. When you focus on something that means a lot to you, 80 hours is still not enough time to devote. Yes, there will be days you wake up and wish you could just spend the day in front of the TV, but there are never days where you wake up and want to disappear. The stresses between business and freelance are different in many ways, but at least with freelance, success relies on your ability to work hard.

You Are Accountable
You are accountable for everything that happens, especially if you begin your run with just you heading up the fledgling business. This means that before you start reaching out to clients or hiring others to manage your affairs, you better have your own self-importance under control. Don’t think you can continue to take out your frustrations on others. They will no longer work with you. Don’t assume you can make excuses for a poorly completed project. You were the only one working on it. Instead, turn this accountability into a positive. Use it to continually better yourself and what you offer. If something goes wrong, assess what happened and make notes on how you can avoid the situation in the future. If you feel like berating others, take time away to understand why you are frustrated and what you can do to ease the tension. Turn everything into a learning exercise and you will be amazed at how far you can go on your own.

Amy KlimekAbout the Author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that, Amy has held similar roles at Rent.com, eBay and US Interactive. For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel. Connect with ZipRecruiter on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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