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6 lessons from the first 6 months as an entrepreneur

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. This still annoys me.Just a half a glass of wine...

Six months today was the first day of the London Book Fair. I was there, just like last year, and the year before that, soaking up the frenetic atmosphere, spotting celebrities, enjoying the sheer bookiness of the place and the people. But this year, for the first time, I was attending as me, Alison Jones Business Services and Practical Inspiration Publishing, not on behalf of a major publisher. I had no stand of my own on which to entertain my guests – I put away industrial quantities of caffeine over two days of back-to-back ‘meeting up for a cup of coffee’.

Six months on, on my half-birthday as a business, I look back with amazement at the journey so far. I have been lucky enough to work with wonderful people in great companies throughout my career in publishing, and when I left to go it alone I knew I’d miss being part of that. I had boundless optimism and energy for my new business, equalled only by bottomless terror.

Today, thankfully, the optimism and energy remain, but the terror has been replaced by an enormous sense of possibility. So what 6 lessons have I learned in the last 6 months?

1. It’s all about people
the single most rewarding aspect of my business, emotionally and commercially, is human connection. My coachees, authors and a growing network of supportive peers are at the centre of everything, and every new connection I make opens up new creative possibilities. This is beyond awesome.

2. Your time is valuable: choose how to spend it
The ROI on getting someone else to do the stuff that you hate and/or suck at and/or takes you a disproportionate amount of time is a no-brainer. Let’s just say I got an accountant and bookkeeper on board within the first few weeks.

3. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything
This still annoys me.

4. Get the infrastructure right from the start
Systems and processes are like plumbing. The only thing worse than having them is not having them.

5. Be clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing
There is a triangle against which all potential projects should be assessed (see 3. above): profitability, profile, and fun. The lower a project scores on any one of these, the higher it better be on the others. If it fails on all three counts, hold your nerve and walk away. (With thanks to Liz Gooster for this invaluable model.)

6. Don’t be afraid to ask
I think this is a particularly British issue. We don’t like asking for things, bothering people, showing vulnerability, making a fuss. Here’s what I’ve discovered: people are generally generous with their expertise, willing to endorse you if you’ve done a good job, have an opinion on your logo, know someone who’d be perfect for the job you need done, delighted to help. Just ask – but make sure you’re giving back too to keep your social capital account in credit and the world in balance. 

Underpinning all of this has been the transformative impact of coaching. I am still astonished by the power of such a simple process - it's just asking questions, when you come down to it - to clarify thinking, overcome problems, generate ideas and create effective action plans. Coaching made everything possible for me, and it's a privilege to coach others and see it happen for them.

If you’re a brand-new business owner too I salute you: let’s keep connecting, experimenting, learning, daring, earning, asking questions, creating magic.

Tags: entrepreneur | small business


This entry was posted on 07 October 2014 at 10:38 and is filed under business coaching. You can leave a response here.

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1 response to '6 lessons from the first 6 months as an entrepreneur'

Phil says

Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

Added on 28 October 2014 at 17:42

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