These days, it’s very easy for anyone to start-up a business.
Whether it be a lifestyle biz that is sewn with love, such as selling handmade items on Etsy or running a mixed product and service enterprise that has a generous flow of customers that keeps you on your toes.
The global economy means everyone can start something, somewhere, from practically nothing. An idea can become a brand, social movement or product using the same tools that brings us an endless supply of cat videos and fitspo selfies.
However, one thing I can say from my humble and relatively short experience thus far in running a business is there are several principles that are timeless. These principles are usually the ones that aren’t mentioned in the click-bait adverts I always see on my Facebook feed promising the following:
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- A laptop lifestyle living by a poolside or on the beach
- Fast-track to copious amounts of success, fame and riches
- A fail-proof 5-step blue print that is guaranteed to work
- Anything that contains the word easy, quick, free and instant
What you will not see mentioned in these grandiose claims are words that are very unsexy.
These words are hard work, patience, failure (this is completely unavoidable), loss, resilience and humility. All bundled up like that our lives may as well be void of anything that resembles fun. But don’t lose heart.
Running a biz, blog, brand, NFP, enterprise or even ministry comes with both the good and bad – just like anything in life. The difference is how we handle the bad times and whether we allow it to let us sink or sail.
I’ve been there and, in only a few years since officially starting my own gig, I’ve learnt so much about myself and others that I would never had exposure to if I hadn’t taken a risk. It’s been much like a marriage; in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer (mostly the latter, but we all start somewhere) ’til death do us part (I landed in hospital due to chronic stress and illness – not recommended!)
So here’s a few tips from Mama Mindi, to help and encourage you on your journey:
When I started out, I decided I wanted to do everything. Now, I don’t mean running a diversified business offering customer-centric products and services that are refined due to years of R&D, sales and marketing analysis and ROI forecasting. No effing way.
I mean: “Hey, I like marketing and writing and nutrition and e-commerce. I’m going to run four completely different businesses all at the same time!” See exhibit A below:
Further to the sheer lunacy of this, I had all my priorities mixed up. I was neglecting my family, withdrawing from social connection and, ironically, was not maintaining the healthy lifestyle I so righteously preached through my nutrition biz. And guess what happened? I imploded and my whole business (all four of them), along with my health crumbled to the ground. It was not pretty.
But the good news is, I recovered and learnt a very valuable lesson. My physical and mental well being is the number one priority. Also having the responsibility of a young and loud child to raise meant I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted on my own terms anymore.
There were greater things at stake, like a tiny human and my own sanity.
Balance is conducive to better output in whatever sphere you operate in. What does that look like in practical terms? Switching off mobile devices, eating a healthy nutrient-dense diet, going for long moonlit walks along the beach, spending time with loved ones and taking time to give back to the community.
Focusing on ONE project at a time, not 25,000. We all know the what, we just have to do the do! Since re-shuffling my schedule into something more realistic, I naturally found more creativity and productivity, and as a result opportunities opened up.
I often read in entrepreneur and start-up business books that networking is key. So, I joined a network marketing company and quickly learnt that’s not what they meant [insert awkward emoticon here]. I’ll save that story for another day.
Building your circle of influence extends beyond family and friends, customers and clients. It means finding meaningful relationships and seeking to add value to everyone in your community and sphere of influence. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds because people are notoriously difficult. I know – I’m one of them. Ha!
I’m a work in progress and still learning the ropes of relationships. Sometimes that looks like gathering other like-minded individuals and just hanging out together, sharing war stories and common frustrations. Occasionally, it means letting go of toxic people that undermine you and demand an apology or explanation for your success and ambitions.
In all cases, relationship-building is an organic process that we live and learn through.
I’ve made many mistakes, but I see it as another stepping stone to where I want to be. The biggest favour we can do is accept the mistakes, forgive ourselves (or the other person) and move on. It’s easy to dwell on where we royally screwed up, but that never helps or changes the situation. Forgive and forget.
I know this sounds really elementary, but you’d be surprised how much a smile can actually change the atmosphere in a room and an exchange between strangers. It’s like an understated “hello” and it’s free. FREEEEEE! Now we all know about RBF, and not only how unpretty it makes us look, but unapproachable too.
Don’t forget to lighten up!
Incorporate a sense of fun and humour in what you do so you attract more clients and prospects. Generally, people want to do business with those who make them feel good and humour (in good taste) can be a great barrier breaker. Stay professional, but never lose that sense of fun in your business and life in general. It is a people magnet.
Of course, this must be sincere. We can all spot a fake a mile away (AKA smiling assassins). My approach, when under pressure, can be sometimes be rather forthright and void of any warmth. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I’ve learnt this the hard way.
A smile and simple “how are you going?” delivered with genuine interest before asking the task can be the difference between a half-assed job for the sake of getting off their back or something accomplished with excellence.
What are your top tips for success? Share with us in the comments.