There are many things I wish I had known before starting the journey to building a business online and what it takes to achieve our goals.
The main one? Entrepreneurship is mostly a lie.
It has this aura of fame, lambos, parties, and freedom. Influencers flaunt private jets, weekends in Vegas, models, and a selfie with Gary Vaynerchuk to show how awesome it is. But very few show what goes on behind the scenes and what it takes to build a business. While everyone is happy to show off their wins, few are as eager to showcase their losses.
Luckily for you, I’ve had plenty of failures and have learned from them. If you desire to build a business or brand online, here’s what you need to know before you start.
The amount of doubt you’ll feel at times will be crippling.
You will question yourself and feel like this will never work. But, it can and it will if you stick to it. Any dream you have — especially building a business — will be a test of perseverance. It’s an opportunity to build a relentless mentality of grit.
Doubts creep in when you’re seeking fast cash and instant success. Get that out of your head now. Entrepreneurship is hard.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t waste your energy doubting when you can use it to work on your skills and business.
2. The urge to quit
I wish I had known that, when starting a business, I should have prepared for the overwhelming desire to give up.
You will work so hard for a long time and not see any results. Because of this, you will want to quit. You’ll ask yourself, “What’s the point?” And then convince yourself that it doesn’t work.
The desire to quit is felt by everyone, though. Every leader, soldier, celebrity, athlete, and anyone who has achieved success has felt it. However, they didn’t listen to it.
They kept their vision in the foreground of their mind and pushed through the urge to give up. Their resolve became so strong that it didn’t matter how many times they failed or fell. They got back up and went after it again.
This is what it takes to succeed.
3. Learn how to sell
Everyone needs to learn sales.
We are already sales masters, and we don’t realize it. We sell ourselves to our parents, romantic partners, and our employers to hire us and give us raises.
That being said, you can never do enough research or have enough experience. Read more books, watch more videos, and listen to every podcast you can find on sales training.
Sales is essential. It helps us become better problem solvers, bringing solutions — and value — not only to our customers but to ourselves.
4. Don’t listen to everyone
I made a mistake early on of telling people my plans — dumb move.
I was met with their resistance, telling me all the reasons I’d fail, which only planted seeds of doubt. If that wasn’t enough, I became the target for an onslaught of unsolicited advice.
Everyone suddenly became an expert on my business, which was in a field they had never been in at all. I listened, applied their advice, and then lost business as a result.
Don’t listen to anyone who is a spectator and not a player in the game.
Take advice only from those who have a successful business and, ideally, in your field.
5. Focus on one industry or product
When I first wanted to make money online, I was all over the place. I was a trend-chaser.
Social media marketing was first. Then, fulfillment by Amazon. An online casino was on the table at one point. Shopify was next and, thankfully, was the one that eventually worked.
My point is to focus on one business and one product.
Ideally, choose a business you love because you will be pouring so much time, energy, money, and effort into it. Get so good at it that you dominate. Make your product the best that it can be. If you dabble in too many businesses, then you sacrifice quality.
Splitting my time was a big mistake, and it’s time I’ll never get back. Time which I could’ve used to build the brand I now have.
6. Rock bottom sucks but it was needed
I wish I had known that when starting a business, you WILL hit rock bottom. You will experience an awful, gut-wrenching heartbreak.
It feels terrible in the moment, but I promise you, it’s a good thing. Why? Because it makes you tougher. It thickens your skin and makes you capable of handling the setbacks, rejections, failures, and endless challenges that come with running a business.
Climbing out of rock bottom gives you the confidence that whatever hardships you face, you can climb out of it and get back on top.
Rock bottom will give you the greatest gifts: showing you your true strength and learning life lessons.
The trials that come from hitting rock bottom have lessons. And lessons are blessings. So, in essence, rock bottom is a blessing.
7. You will sacrifice your social life
If you start a business seeking to live a life like Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street, think again.
In the startup phase of a brand or company, you will have to sacrifice leisure to get the ball rolling. That means less Netflix, fewer parties, and a nonexistent social life. Especially at the beginning of your journey.
You must put overtime into your business if you ever want to see growth. If you’re always hitting the pub and complaining that your business isn’t working, then you’re an idiot. Put that time and energy you spend complaining and drinking into your goals.
Do the painful tasks now so you can enjoy the pleasure later on down the road.
8. You still need a job
Something I wish I had known was not to quit your job when you decide to start a business.
I get it. Your job blows, and you hate living paycheck to paycheck. You desire more from life and want financial freedom. We all want that. But you have to remember that keeping your day job is practical. It allows you to work for money, which can be used for capital on your brand.
If you decide to go “all-in” too quickly and run out of savings, you have to go back to a job. That happened to me, and it was foolish.
Keeping a job while you build also teaches you time-utilization — a vital skill for building and running a business.
You will find pockets of time in your day when you can work on your dream outside of your survival job. I bookended my days by waking up early and working on my brand and then coming home after work to build some more.
Keep the day job, grow and scale your business, and then quit when profits exceed your current salary.
9. You’re the boss and the employee
When you start your own business, you will feel a sense a relief that you no longer have to clock-in at a certain time.
You think to yourself:
“I’m my own boss! I can wake up when I want and work when I desire!”
Bad call. This leads to inconsistency, unfocused work, terrible results, and wasted time.
If you have your own business and let go of your survival job, you must become even more focused and accountable. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build.
You can let go of the 9–5 working for someone else, but you should not let go of a committed work schedule.
You may think you don’t have a boss now, but you do. That boss is you. You are your own boss and your own employee. You have to show up for yourself each day as if you were working for someone else.
If you show up late, then you must impose repercussions. Stay later and get the work done.
If you are casual about this, then I guarantee you will lose your business.
The main thing you need to know is that starting and building a business is hard.
Yes, you can achieve the money, fame, and Gary Vaynerchuk is calling you up to be a guest on his podcast. But it won’t happen if you quit and give up.
Remember these 9 points:
- Crippling doubt will overwhelm you
- The urge to quit will be loud
- Learn how to sell
- Listen to the right people
- Focus on one business or product
- Rock bottom is a blessing
- Sacrifice your social life in the beginning
- Keep your day job
- Be the boss and the employee of the month
Keep these points in mind while building your business. Endure and persevere through the setbacks, and you will achieve the life you desire.