A few years ago I left a very stable and well-paying career to start my own business, with 0 knowledge of the industry or how to run a business. I knew one thing, I hated my job. I wanted more out of life and I was going to get it. Below are a few of the lessons I have learned or been taught. If you are considering taking a leap of faith, I only hope this can help you out. If you’ve been in business for a long time, please share your tips with me. Enjoy!
1) Business/personal finances.
“See the way my bank account is set up… “
I am leading with this topic for a number of reasons. Without proper financial management there will be no business to run. When I began in real estate I was given a very valuable piece of advice, that is likely the only reason I am still in business. The advice is simple, have separate accounts. Take every penny you earn and deposit it into a business account, then establish a salary and write yourself a check every week, two weeks or month. Deposit this money into your checking account and ONLY spend this money. The last part, only give yourself a raise once a year… if you earn it. Thanks for this advice Steve Clay!
You must also run your business as a business. If spending the money does not result in a ROI then it’s usually not a smart investment. If you advertise, track the ROI and understand where your business is generated. Lastly, understand “Opportunity cost”. Every single action you take on a daily basis costs time and has a result, spend it wisely.
2) Define your work day
“Sorry, We’re closed”
When starting out it is easy to obsess about your new career and work whenever business is available. This might feel necessary in the beginning and you might not mind answering the phone at 11pm, but are you actually hurting your business?
Simply put, yes!
Providing exceptional service around your customer’s work day is often a requirement for self-employed business owners, but you must establish boundaries. In order for your brain to be effective you must have a reasonable “quitting time” each day. I was horrible about this in my first year, and it was a hard lesson to learn. I was working full-time from 7:00-4:00 every day and running my business before and after “work” each day. It was exhausting!! One of the smartest things I did was turn my phone on DO NOT DISTURB from 7:00pm – 7:00am automatically every day. Trust me, not much can really get accomplished during these hours that can’t wait for the next business day.
3) Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed
My business would be non-existent without the people I hold closest. I can remember people laughing in my face when I decided to change from a steady pay check to a self-employed career, but I can’t remember who it was. I do however, know exactly who would drop what they are doing to take my call and help me succeed. These people should know how important they are to you. I know these people will read this article, and they will know exactly who they are. Go out of your way to make sure they know they are appreciated; it will be one of your best investments.
4) Learn to relax
There is not one sale I would ever trade for a single day of life. Earning a ton of money and having the biggest house is great, if you take time to enjoy life. I was working non-stop and thought I was happy with that. Then I noticed how much weight I started to put on, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was a walking ball of stress. Thankfully, I started to realize I wasn’t happy.
Here are a few steps I took to learn to relax:
Do something for you every day, even if it seems small or silly.
Take care of your body, exercise, eat right, monthly massages etc.
Unwind before bed and strive for quality sleep.
Understand that most things can wait until tomorrow.
Unplug on a beach, and enjoy the view.
There will still be bad days and stress, that comes with owning a business. Learn to understand what you can handle and how you can relax.
5) NEVER sway from your guiding principles
This is the last point, but don’t dismiss it as not as important. Never be too afraid to lose a customer, that you sacrifice your personal/professional guidelines. Nicky and I have a few red flags that we will simply not work with. When one is raised, we professionally dismiss ourselves and focus on the next deal. Every single time we’ve ignored our instincts we completely regret it and kick ourselves. Our worst clients, yes I admit it we have had some bad clients, have taught us the most about our business. The clients who have verbally insulted us, threatened to kill us, (probably justified) lied, wasted our time, or put us through real estate hell have helped us establish firm principle and grow our business. One of these is respecting yourself enough to know you are worth the money you charge. For us, it’s a commission. If a customer is opposed to paying you, MOVE ON. Sure, you can close a deal with difficult people but remember the opportunity cost of working with them. Let your competition deal with them and kill two birds with one stone. They are wasting their time, while you are becoming more profitable.
These 5 lessons have helped me grow in so many areas, to the point where I am confident enough in our success to put my thoughts in this article. We are scratching the surface of accomplishment and are beginning to realize our potential. Part of becoming successful is realizing how much you want to help others grow as well. Nicky and I constantly discuss how we’ve never met a successful person who took the time to be mad or jealous about what we are doing. They simply want to help us grow. I hope you find something helpful in my thoughts!