This is an unabashedly self-serving article in that it is focused on my 25th anniversary in business. For me, it is a wonderful celebration of success as 14% of the population consider themselves to be entrepreneurs and 50% of them have failed by their fifth year! Oct. 24 marks a life-changing date when, on a cold fall day, I decided to leave the "security of biweekly paychecks" to enter the world of entrepreneurial uncertainty!
My first year, I decided to save money by working from home and spent the first 2 weeks setting up my home office, making sure it was comfortable, functional, and the nerve-center for my newly formed empire. I purchased a Gateway computer and began to teach myself how to use it to connect with my audience as well as process critical information. I had to learn how to function without all the trappings of my corporate world: a marketing department, executive assistant, etc. and of course co-workers.
By Nov. 7, it was clear my home office plan wasn't working as there were far too many distractions. Since I wasn't having immediate success selling my training program, I resorted to other facets of my life to feed my need to feel good about my day: the driveway was shoveled, dinner was prepared for my wife, the dog was walked, etc. These pastimes weren't growing my business, so I knew I needed a change. I decided to move into shared office space, began pounding the phones and going to networking meetings and now I felt like I had a business. This fueled my confidence to do even more.
The biggest change I enacted was to find an accountability partner who I reported my behavior and KPIs to every morning without exception. We agreed to show no mercy when one of us made excuses for not executing the agreed-to behavior, which created a "fail forward mentality." I was developing new skills and the consistent execution of those skills developed winning habits. By January of 1995, my business was stabilizing, and income was growing as I found people who needed professional development. For the rest of that year, I concentrated on keeping my head focused on performing the necessary prospecting behavior and blocked out all distractions.
Fast-forward 25 years and I'm still focused on the prospecting behaviors and KPIs which were the bedrock of my early success, as well as the task of growing a sustainable business. Here are some valuable lessons I have taken from my first 25 years as an entrepreneur:
1. Unconditional commitment to success will propel an entrepreneur past any problem that crops up.
2. Skills, knowledge and application are the keys to entrepreneurial growth.
3. Balance strategic thinking and tactical execution and you will create the learning culture necessary to attract top performers.
4. Learn to love what you do, as passion is a critical component for personal and professional development.
5. Become a "Go To" center of influence in your field and you will attract prospects.
6. Build an organization that focuses on delivering an unforgettable customer experience and focus on WOW-ing clients.
7. Choose a coach and mentor to widen your thinking and deepen your understanding of your blind spots.
8. Hire people with the same values and passion for the business as you and get out of their way.
9. Keep your personal and professional life in balance and work on each daily.
10. Nurture well-being and celebrate successes and failures regularly.
Go conquer your worlds!
• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. firstname.lastname@example.org. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.