Let’s be clear from the very beginning – starting a new business is scary. The unending lists of things you have to worry about – visioning, messaging, marketing, product and service development, infrastructure – even if you don’t do it all yourself, it can be incredibly overwhelming!
However, it’s also amazingly liberating. Take it from someone who never wanted to start a business in the first place (must less three!) – I don’t think I would be happy working for someone else ever again.
Let me suggest a couple lessons you can count on to make your job just a little easier.
Lesson #1: Yes, You Actually ARE Good Enough!
Often called “the imposter syndrome,” many of us entrepreneurs are truly passionate about what we are doing with our new business. However, we frequently doubt that we should really be the ones telling people how they can improve their lives, their jobs, their careers, etc. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we believe we aren’t good enough and that we WILL be discovered for the imposters that we are.
Are there others out there with more experience? Yes.
Are there others out there with more customers? Yes.
So what? You are YOU, not them. Your experience combined with everything else that makes you YOU is what makes you different. You aren’t an imposter. You know your job – that’s why you went out on the entrepreneur tree limb to make a real difference. Do your job the best way you know how. Learn constantly. Pay attention to your competition, but don’t try to copy them (they’re already doing what they do, copying them just puts you at a disadvantage).
One other piece of advice: if you are a good person, you probably trust others. If you are an entrepreneur, you likely don’t trust yourself quite as much as you should. If you trust others, you can trust yourself too.
Lesson #2: Price Your Product/Service Properly
A common theme amongst entrepreneurs is our inability to believe we can command a higher price. I see this time and time again. I’ve done it too. Just because you’re new or young, we set our prices low to compete with more established businesses.
Let me let you in on a secret: people equate price with value. If you underprice your products and services, a significant segment of your market will look at what you offer as the discount offering compared to others. Think of it like clothing – if you find a really inexpensive piece of clothing in a store (not due to a clearance or holiday sale), you are getting a really cheap article of clothing. You know this and, as a result, there are stores where you will regularly shop for clothing and there are stores where you would NEVER CONSIDER shopping. Come on – be honest.
Don’t do the same thing to your products and services. Find out what pricing is common in your market, set your price appropriately, and compete on quality. Compete on the uniqueness YOU bring to the market. Don’t underprice your wares and NEVER, NEVER get into a pricing war (everyone loses!).
Lesson #3: Learn How To Say NO
Many entrepreneurs have a really hard time saying NO.
New customer? YES!
New project? YES!
New tool that will help you do everything? YES
YES isn’t always the best answer. Is that prospective new customer really hard to deal with? Are they looking to you because you’re a new business and they want to force you into a bad deal? Have they been “fired” by others in your market?
Will that new project help you achieve your vision? Will it get in the way of other work to which you’ve already said YES? Will that new project split your focus even further, making it less likely you will hit important dates without working ridiculous hours to get it done?
You get the idea. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to stay focused on your vision, your message, and your customers. Warren Buffet once said that, for every 100 ideas that crossed his desk, he says NO to 99 of them. Don’t be afraid to say NO — it’s an important word that will help you stay very focused on the really important work.
Extra Lesson #4: Ask For Help
As I hope you’ve realized as you read this post, being an entrepreneur is exciting, amazing, liberating, and scary. There are a lot of people who have been there and are willing to help you. Be willing to ask for help. Find yourself a good life coach – you’ll often find that speaking with a coach can not only help you feel better about your anxieties, but may help you find the answer you’re looking for. Trust me – I speak regularly with a coach too!