When you are starting off, building your own company it will be a lonely path you go. I have heard this a thousand times before I started and I must admit: it’s true!
There is no more 9 to 5 …
You will suffer weekends in the pub or having fun with friends shopping, drinking coffee, strolling through the park … to work. To get your shit together, plan out things you need to do and get it done. Those weekends will probably be essentially for a while. It’s the time you need to invest to get everything sorted and yourself and the company in the starting position. It’s not always fun but ideally when you are at this point you know why you are doing it.
This is what you want, right?
And especially when you still work full-time all these over-hours and weekends you spend working can be actually fun. I know. It sounds quite weird but it’s your dream, right? You have the goal to leave the corporate world on one point and start on your own, right? You create the life you love, right? You do it because it’s your choice and you take full responsibility, right?
Don’t expect understanding
So this whole thing should mean that you are cool with that. I mean probably not for the rest of your life but for a certain time. The thing that might be challenging for you will be managing expectations. I mean, managing the expectations other have. Your friends, your spouse, your family they will expect you to spend quality time with them. There is nothing wrong with that. And I absolutely encourage you to do so. You can do it as “quality” time. Maybe a couple of hours less than you used to do but you can. Stop playing Candy crush or watching Netflix or any other of those time wasters will help you balance out quality time with loved ones and working.
But you will have to have a conversation with a couple of your closed ones that you life and your priorities have changed and are constantly changing. When you are on the entrepreneurial journey you are no longer living the normal life. You are no longer fulfilling standards set by society. Be clear on your priorities and your own expectations on yourself. Your loved ones will understand and they will want you to be successful. But don’t expect their lives to change. Get prepared and ready to walk the paths alone or with likeminded people on the same journey. You can! 🙂 remember, if it would be easy – everyone wold be doing it.
And when your loved ones want to understand what you are doing – tell them! Do not exclude them and don’t make it a “that’s so special kind of thing”. You don’t have to become a dickhead only because you have started your own company! No need for attitude!
My husband and me for example “check in” on a regular basis. We sit together over a coffee or breakfast and talk about the current process of my business. He knows exactly what’s going on and I have learnt to ask for his help. I mean of course not always. This is not the point. It’s your business, therefore you have to put in the work and no one else. But to pick a brain and to double check your assumptions it’s a great way to include your loved ones. We also schedule our quality time around our working schedule. Yes, this means to get a tiny bit more organised and plan but it’s not that much of a big deal. It’s only a question of priorities!
“The necessity of networking” sounds pretty serious… I know… and I truly believe networking IS needed to be taken serious. Absolutely serious!
This is a lesson I hard to learn. I mean, I always knew that networking is important. But I didn’t know that it’s actually that essential. When you are in sales and recruiting as I have been for roughly 10 years networks are the source for your referrals and recommendation. But when you build a company networking is one of the number one tasks to do.
Networking in Germany
I always had the feeling that in Germany networking was essential especially for the very high hierarchy levels. You know I’m talking about these cliche weekends and off-sites where managing directors, C-level and board members close the biggest deals while playing golf. I mean obviously this is not the real world. I mean. This is part of the real world but only half of it. Also in Germany there are many, many opportunities to network in professional environments like organised clubs (Rotaract, Lions, Rotary etc. etc.). But how many of us do really do this? I used to be in networking organisations since I was in school. On a regular basis. Actually on a regular on-off basis… it simply didn’t have this much of a relevance. It was no priority.
Networking in the UK
Since I moved to the UK and especially since I started my company I learnt to understand that networking is one of the most, if not the single most important thing to do when you are in business. And when you want to succeed. I find myself going to networking events at 7 am in the morning. And guess what I am not the only one. For many people this is a priority appointment during office hours. I also network a lot with likeminded people via Facebook groups or other professional networking groups like LinkedIn. I have received already so many incredible inputs. My thinking was challenged. I can pick a brain at any given time. I can deliver value to other people. I can be of help. It’s incredible. The results I achieved by simply talking and interacting with people are incredibly amazing.
We are living a connected world. You can simply reach out to every one you want. It’s as simple as this. Only drop a message. How cool is that please?
Seriously I am totally bought into the whole networking hype and I think it should be an essential topic in school “how to network properly and why”.
Having worked 10 years as an employee in a corporate environment the entrepreneurial journey is pretty different. This means there are daily changes to be made to adapt to the new environment. So, I thought it might be interesting for you guys to share what my day has looked like in some detail. Please be aware that every day is pretty different and my tasks do vary a lot. But here is a real day in the real journey of becoming an entrepreneur and building my business.
Morning – some me time and setting myself up for the day
So, I started the day pretty early with an early bird workout at the gym. I like to include my workout as a first task in the morning to get some me time. And also to set myself up for the day. Usually my days are pretty unforeseen and my schedule can get mixed up easily. Therefore I love to have my workout done before the “official working day”.
After my hour workout I went back home and attempted my first call. When you are self-employed you don’t have a boss any longer. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to match expectation and be totally free. I swapped my boss for stakeholders if you want.
So the first call was a conference call following my Hogan qualification. The time was super beneficially spent as it added a lot of value.
After this, I had another call where I exchanged information for a client meeting I design together with another company. This is something I very much love – having the flexibility to cooperate with other companies and brands to deliver the best value for my clients.
Then I had a third call, again a cooperation and some brainstorming. This is something I can recommend every new entrepreneur out there. Buddy up with people who are on the same journey and who’s brain you can pick. While doing so be willing to deliver a lot of value to your sparring partner. You might won’t see a direct return but you are in it for the long game, right?
Midday – getting some healthy food and work my list
Around 1pm I prepared myself a quick, healthy not to heavy lunch. I like something small like maybe an avocado or a salat – depending on how much I need. I also love some homemade juices and green smoothies. You can check out my favourite ones here.
After this I worked my to do list and checked my e-mails. Yes, I do not check my e-mails all the time as I like to focus on the task I am currently doing. I do not believe in the whole multitasking concept as I believe I am better of with focusing on what I am doing and do it mindfully. I also try to stay away from my mobile. One of the apps that help stay motivated to do so is “forest”. I have introduced this app in an earlier post. You can access this one here. After this I had another call scheduled with an accountant to get a quote.
I think having an accountant and professional partner on your side from the beging is a beneficial investment. Sure, it costs you some money but these people can also help you to keep on track, give some guidance and can help you grow. But you definitely do not need the most expensive service. There are great offers with a lot value for money.
Afternoon – working my schedule and get the content right
My afternoon started with another unexpected call. I will attend a networking event tomorrow – an amazing opportunity to meet interesting business people and get some attention. As professional networking is a super important topic I will do a separate post focusing on this.
Then I worked my schedule. This means to get some content for my training. Structuring my social media activities to get some traffic. Digging deeper into content and form them into helpful bits and pieces for my trainings. This stuff takes a lot of work and can be a lot of fun. It’s what I’m passionate about so I like to fully absorb into these things. I will put my phone on mute during this time – no more calls. No e-mails, only creating content.
With having two focuses on my business – training and consulting, there needs to be a bit of planning be involved. Therefore I like to schedule the things for priority and lay out the tasks in advance to get the best out of my time available. With being a startup this does also mean to not having every eventuality ready. I will have to stay flexible in my content creation – depending on what is mostly demanded from my clients. In general I believe this is a necessity as you want to keep your content up to date.
After this there will be some more planning -outlaying, creating and scheduling some social media content and plan out what to post when on which platforms.
How do you structure your days? What do you focus on?
I’ll keep it short and will simply link a video by Gary Vaynerchuk down below. It’s a video about real entrepreneurship, the journey of becoming an entrepreneur and the whole fakepreneur movement on Instagram just now.
That’s it for today – everything said. Time for some “real work”.
A while ago I met an old friend I studied with back in 2006. We kicked off our careers at the same bank and had equal opportunities. The main difference is that I have left the bank after six years and she stayed. Along with her some other colleagues have stayed with the bank and celebrate now their 10th anniversary.
So I have a direct comparison of what title and salary I would be on right now.
But I left.
Was it worth it?
When I left the bank to join a startup company many people thought I would have lost my mind. Maybe I did. Do I regret it? Not at all.
Financially I might have gone a huge step back. Especially with now having founded a startup company there is no such benefits as paid holidays, paid insurance, expensive incentives and bonuses etc.
But I guess it’s not all about a financial aspect. Journeys like mine will always loose when the benchmark is prestige or money.
Most startups fail and will never be successful. So, my decisions to get into business on my own was also risky – in every aspect.
Why did I do it?
I did it anyways and would do it over and over again as I used my 20-ies to gain experiences. To try out different industries, to figure out what I enjoy doing and also what I definitely hate doing.
I went back to University and I did this in a different country. Two things I wanted to do forever and would have regret if I wouldn’t have done them.
For me the whole thing isn’t too frustrating anyways as I had never the aspiration to have a quick win. I am in it to win it. I am in it for the long run.
I truly believe legacy over currency.
All this blogging stuff I definitely don’t do to become rich. Or to become famous. This would actually freak me out if I would because I sometime don’t even know whether anyone is reading this. If you do, please give me a hint so I know I am not alone.
Legacy over currency
Of course I want to make money – preferably a lot. But I believe you have to put the work into it. And I want to do this by delivering great customer experiences, great products and great service.
Therefore I guess I might no longer be comparable to my colleagues from earlier days and that’s fine. I would make any decision over and over again. And to answer the question: Yes, I truly believe it is worth it. I am creating the life I want. It sometimes sucks, it can be lonely but so does employee life. Je ne regret de rien.
It’s MyNutShare’s birthday week – whoop whoop 🙂 I registered this blog in September 2015 and my very first post went online on September 26th last year.
Can’t believe it’s been a whole year already.
Anyways, back to basics… Today it’s about startup struggle.
On Saturday we met an acquaintance for breakfast and a walk and talk. He teaches entrepreneurship on one of the leading business universities. The question “is entrepreneurship teachable?” came up … I guess it depends on the course and it’s content. When you want to teach someone the DNA to be an entrepreneur, the mindset, the hustle I believe it’s hopeless. There is literally no point in doing so. But if teaching entrepreneurship does mean teaching the toolkit, the business necessities needed to run and build successful companies I think there is absolutely a point. It surely does help to understand what makes businesses successful, how to test markets etc.
Startup struggle – it’s real
Another thing that came up was that most startups struggle with exact the same things.
So many of us struggle to focus and worry about stuff that is either not relevant and / or will never happen. Therefore it might be a good idea to challenge the mindset’s in some courses. To challenge overthinking and teach brainstorming techniques etc. – to get away from the formal educational paths and teach stuff that matters to aspiring entrepreneurs.
5 things to quit right now
In line to the above point I came across a pic today on Instagram which states “5 things to quit right now” (source unknown).
Building a company is like many other things hard work. This hard work does not stop the day you register your company and change your job title to director. This is usually where the hard work starts. The real hard work.
It’s the same with every other profession – you have to work hard towards your goals to eventually achieve them. That’s it. There are no overnight successes out there. Do you know one?
Deep insight we all know they don’t exist. Why would we then still pressure with this picture of overnight success and use this fairy tale as a benchmark?
The stuff that happened before starting a company
This is something pretty personal and maybe not quite transferable to every single startup out there but to a whole bunch of them. Before someone decides to start a company this person has an idea. Ideas are easy. We all have them. All the time.
But to actually execute an idea it takes a bit more than just having an idea. You usually also have a feeling whether this idea might work, whether this idea might be something valuable. You usually will have an idea that is different from what’s available right now. This idea might ideally help solve a real problem.
How do you get such an idea and figure out whether this idea is valuable? You will probably get such an idea by having a clue of the area you want to solve a problem in. You will probably have a certain level of expertise and understanding of this area. And then you will have to test the idea and also test the market.
This means even before you actually start working and testing an idea you will have put in a certain amount of work already.
In my case this means for example having been in sales for 10 years – in different industries, roles and areas of sales.
Starting a company
Only because you then eventually decide your idea is worth spending more time on and eventually this results in starting a company the work you’ll have to put in won’t stop there. It then starts! You can be great in sales but it is something totally different to teach or train someone else becoming a great sales person. You won’t have immediate customers, supporters, concepts and products.
Therefore when a person has started a company they usually will have to figure out a lot of stuff. They usually will have to put in a whole lot of work to get the company ready to actually start.
You start from zero. NADA. There is no infrastructure given. There is no business model yet. There is no payment system. There are no contracts. There are no price calculations. There is nothing.
One month in already – are you already successful?
Depending on how you would define success I guess one could stretch the answer to this question. But the real case scenario is probably “No”.
Especially when building a company for the long run you won’t sell a totally lean version. Especially not when your product is professional service. You will of course adapt your products along the way and get better over time. But there is no point in rushing too quickly into things, loosing patience. This does definitely not mean to wait till your product or service is perfect – because it never will be. But it does mean that it must be OK to think things true, to get your toolkit ready, to build something presentable and sellable. You build a business. You change you life. You change your lifestyle. I’m in it for the long haul. And I’m in it to win it.
Patience and overnight success
This external pressure like “do you already have a huge client?” as well as my internal pressure to hit the road running has been part of my journey from the beginning. The pressure and impatience to get started asap, to have the urgency of making money. And I had to understand and learn that it’s OK that creating good trainings concepts takes some time. That I can’t compare my chapter 1 with someone’s chapter 189. It’s just not working like this. I am in this game full-time since a month. I am on a pretty good way, keeping up with my pace but it simply takes a lot of work and a bit patience and time. Building a company is not a sprint. It’s a life change.
This videos gives a pretty great impression of the overnight success fairy tale, hard work and patience. All credit goes to Gary Vaynerchuk!
Do you know the African proverb “it needs a village to raise a child”?
This is what it feels like to start a company. It’s a bit like raising a child. Watching the baby making the first steps. Being proud. Being worried…
You will be challenged – constantly. It’s hard. And in the same time it’s a lot of fun! But entrepreneurship is for sure not for everybody. And therefore you will come across many people who won’t understand what the heck you are doing. Your friends who are not on the same journey as you are might not realise that you are changing your life. Your friends might not be interested because it’s not for them. It’s not a lifestyle model they can handle.
You will probably come across a couple of people who show no interest at all. Who are busy living their own lives and maybe simply forget to ask how it’s going. That’s life. That’s it.
Find your village, your tribe
You will need supporters. But these supporters do not necessarily need to be the people you know for ages. It might be even good sometimes to keep some things sometimes a bit separate.
But when you get on the entrepreneurial journey you will come across so, so many people who will support you.
I would have never ever imagined that I will build quickly so intense, deep business relationships based on the mindset of being on the same journey. But it happened. Pretty often.
You might move to another village
The people you will meet during your entrepreneurial journey might not be the people who are in it for the long run. It might not be long lasting relationships but there will be relationships. There will be touching points, there will be mentoring, there will be sparring.
It’s an amazing journey to go and the support is massive.
Even so many people who are not keen to become an entrepreneur themselves but who are interested on the startup story can be uber supportive.
Go out there, make contacts, share your story. We are all humans. We all have something to tell, to teach and to be happy about. The entrepreneurial journey can be lonely sometimes – but it doesn’t have to be all the time. Get close to the people that do you good and empower you.
I originally planned on writing about my first business breakfast and networking in this post but I believe this topic is more important.
I have received the following message from a professional network “I follow the looseness of your development. Not in details of course, but one or another metamorphosis you have been through. Content wise and also visually really exciting! Please allow (and understand my openness as a compliment): for my personal, subjective, stuffy taste there is one ring too much on the picture. (My nose piercing, we spoke about it before). My impression: This is not really you. So I know I’ve put myself on thin ice by saying this and I hope that you do not regard this as inappropriate. If you feel comfortable with it: leave it in!”
Absolutely limited by my appearance rather than my actions. Btw this person does not really know me at all.
This is what happened in the last two years – action wise
For roughly two years a lot of stuff has happened – otherwise then getting pierced. I’ll put it in a short list. These are my accomplishments as you might want to name it. I am not writing those to show off but to give a sense of what people could have seen in my life.
started and finished a postgraduate degree (MSc Global Leadership)
worked while studying full-time
have read as many non-fictional books on personal growth like never before
started this blog and am blogging regularly since a year, document what I have learned and try to save other people’s time by providing book summaries for example, try to deliver value in a nutshell
increased my English to a pretty good level
got engaged and married
found all my braveness and started my own company, quit my job and am trying to make my dream work
got a piercing
So, you might think “why did she put the piercing there?” – because it’s the ONLY thing I get reduced to by a couple of people.
Being a woman on a professional social network
Other messages I have received to profile changes on LinkedIn and Xing are “there is something in your nose”, “you looked prettier before” – some people also like it. Then I get from business contacts messages like “:-*” or “what if I would have sent you a picture that would make you blush?”.
Let’s just get this straight. A kissing smiley is NOT from someone close to me or on Facebook. It’s on a professional network with people I am connected with as business contacts! Btw. this message is harmless. Trust me, there are different other people on those networks who totally seem to get the purpose (professional business) of these networks wrong. I would have not posted this post if it would have happened only once or with only one person. But it happens even after I tell people I am married and behave professionally.
Anyways… I have written this post to just create a tiny bit of awareness. We should stop judging people by their appearance – btw. my weight is something to be discussed all the time as well. We should stop pressure our opinion on people – it’s simply not always relevant. We should accept that women have ambitious goals they want to reach too. And some of us only want to be the best version of ourselves.
Btw working on yourself is f****ing hard!!
Wishes for the future?
Stop hating, stop criticising. Why don’t we rather start supporting and empowering people in our network like we would do with celebs?