THE BLOG

Diving Into Business: Key Lessons From a Startup Entrepreneur

04/03/2015 12:29 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2015

One month ago, I metaphorically was standing on the edge of a high-diving platform about to take a great leap of faith. While physically I may have felt weak in my knees with sweat beading up on my forehead and my heart racing as each second passed, mentally I had prepared for this moment. I could feel the passion rushing through my body and knew that my goal was within my reach. I breathed in deeply, visualized my dream becoming a reality and took the plunge; I launched my business.

Over the past month, I have been soaking in as much insight, knowledge and advice that I can from a diverse network of colleagues, entrepreneurs, coaches and researchers. I have been humbled by their generosity and inspired by their belief in my ability to succeed. At my core, I am committed to equipping and elevating others so I share the following key lessons that I have learned after one month of diving into business.

Acknowledge What You Don't Know
It can be easy to fall victim to pretending that we have all of the answers and know exactly what we are doing. This trap fueled by our own ego can paralyze our growth and development. It is critical to openly acknowledge what you don't know and seek the counsel of others with specific expertise and experience.

Continuously Focus on Being Relevant
Yesterday's news is not as valuable as today's main headlines. If you commit to continually learning and seeking to make connections across industries and fields that may, at the surface, seem unrelated, you will identify and understand the context of current trends while building the mental capacity to introduce new trends and creatively solve problems.

Listen More, Talk Less
While we may be bursting with excitement to share our business model, products and services with others, refrain from talking so much and instead listen more. Identify the common questions that you are being asked and document your responses as well as the reactions that those listening provide. Look for what resonates with others the most. Pay particular attention to what is not being said and use inquiry to uncover key information that has the potential to differentiate your brand experience.

Manage Your Internal Voice
Sometimes our fear takes controls of our internal voice, feeding us lines that break our confidence and cloud our vision. Train your internal voice as you would build your physical muscles. Learn to anticipate when these internal dialogues surface and prepare accordingly. Manage your attitude given its role in influencing your decisions and actions.

Focus, Focus, Focus
Ding... was that your email notification alerting you to new mail? Turn it off. Focus your attention by starting each day writing down your list of specific goals and allocating the appropriate time (distraction free) to accomplish each one. Be realistic with the expectations that you set for yourself, and avoid bouncing from one task to another every 30 seconds.

Build Your Core
Prioritize building the foundation to your business upon which you can continually build over time. Clearly define your brand, identify your core products or services, and establish solid operational systems and practices for managing finances, data, and knowledge.

Select Your Tribe
Surrounding yourself with individuals that inspire, challenge and support you enables you to stay focused and confident in employing your strengths and tackling goals. Bypass the naysayers or repurpose their negativity or doubt by reworking it in your mind as a challenge to accept and ultimately overcome, thus proving them wrong.

People Will Surprise You
Some people in your network will surprise you by not responding or at least exploring win-win opportunities. Strangers will embrace you, network you within their networks, hire you, and/or cheer you on to victory. You will surprise yourself in discovering new strengths, overcoming fear, and achieving stretch goals.

Celebrate
Whether you bypass the instant coffee at home for a $4 latte or do the happy dance in your living room, celebrate your wins no matter how small they may be. So much of building a business is about building your confidence, being vulnerable and celebrating your most authentic self.

I am thrilled to have made the dive into launching my own business. For the first time in a long time, I am reconnecting with who I am, embracing each day with passion and purpose, and shaping my legacy. I am taking a different path. I am moving to a different beat. I am diving into the experience of each new day with an open mind, hungry to learn and determined to succeed.