Even though it feels like an eternity, I’ve only been in the “official” entrepreneurial landscape for two and a half years. I’ve learned a lot in that time. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
One of the first things I had to learn was that being good at your craft does not make you a good business owner.
In fact, sometimes it’s a hindrance.
For example, after a few months in business, I still didn’t have a good system for billing clients. I was so focused on getting good SEO results that I didn’t bother to take care of crucial business practicalities. Because I didn’t put in the time to understand and research the software I was using, I accidentally double-billed my client.
A huge no-no.
I felt stupid.
They didn’t ditch me, thankfully, and as a result I learned to take care of my business, not just day-to-day work for others. So I’d call that a win.
When running your own business, dozens of decisions need to be made every day. Some affect only the job at hand and some have much farther-reaching consequences. The problem is that the big and the small are all interwoven into daily life, so it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on the most important things.
Here are a couple of things that have helped me get this far.
Reading is Good.
Whether you’re five years old or sixty-five, reading keeps your mind sharp. I’ve noticed that the most successful people in my life are all readers. People read about the things that are important to them, in order to improve their lives in some aspect. If you read marriage books, you and your spouse can identify obstacles and overcome them; if you read business books, your business can become more profitable; if you want to be a better parent, read parenting books.
Here are a few books that helped my business and overall goal-setting over the past couple years.
From left to right:
- The Emyth, Michael Gerber
- Leadership and Sel-Deception, The Arbinger Institute
- EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey
- Finish, Jon Acuff
Get a Mentor
Putting your face in a book is a great start, but nearly all business owners can identify key people who helped them start and grow their companies. My start in internet marketing was in Rexburg, Idaho with an internship with two cool dudes named Rick and John. They infused me with basic knowledge of the industry and filled my mind with possibilities and dreams.
Next, I worked at an agency whose owner is named Mike Ramsey, someone I really look up to. He ran a business with his clients AND employees in mind and provided a great model of leadership for me to follow.
I have an old friend named Craig Severinsen that I found out was a now business coach, and after a single call with him, I had the confidence to venture out on my own. He worked with me over the next 6 months and provided a framework to build my own successful company.
If you want to build a business (or get good at something), find someone who is already good at that thing and learn from them.
Dwight Schrute memes are going through my head right now:
It just seems like common sense now.
The Five Words
The past 6-8 months have presented some great growth opportunities, as well as new challenges to my business. My task list seems to re-populate itself on its own now, and I’ve come to realize that the amount of incomplete tasks I have is commensurate with my stress levels.
I can’t remember where I heard this said first, but it has helped me every single day.
“Done is Better than Perfect”
There are, of course, things that need to be done scrupulously and in a certain manner. But I’ve found that about 80% of daily tasks are not this way. Most tasks require a burst of energy and a checkmark next to them, “done” — not a long drawn-out process with rough drafts, charts, deep pondering, and sprinkled with second-guessing.
This phrase stares at me all day at my office.
Next time you start to feel overwhelmed with all the tasks you need to complete today, remember that only a fraction of them need to be done “perfectly”. The vast majority just require a little attention.
I think this is applicable to our lives. We will never be perfect, though I know a few people who are close.
At the end of our time on earth, none of us will look back on “perfect” lives, but my hope is that if I can consistently improve myself, at least it can show a checkmark for a “complete” life.