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Lessons from My First Year: Advice for Entrepreneurs

Author’s Note: Today I pause as ithrive31 turns “ONE”.  What a big year this has been.  As I stop to reflect, here are my first-year learnings as an entrepreneur. 

The road for entrepreneurs is really hard; it is often paved with disappointment, self-doubt and rejection (not to mention lack of sleep and often a decrease in income). The mental journey can be grueling and is not for the faint of heart.  Only the strong survive. If you find yourself struggling along the entrepreneurial path, allow me to offer these few tips to keep going….

Surround yourself with encouragement

“Be intentional with your thoughts” (#ithrive31 #coreprinciple1) is critical in maintaining momentum through the ups and giving you strength through the downs. As an entrepreneur, you are likely no stranger to self-doubt or criticism. Combat this with a killer support system and surround yourself with encouraging people (not just your mom) who will remind you just how amazing you are, and often.  Find people who will build you up, keep your spirits high and encourage you to keep pushing through the obstacles.  These are your cheerleaders – find them, embrace them and spend time with them.

Proactively seek positive information and experiences.  Look for opportunities that will energize you, motivate you and inspire you to keep going.  This is especially important when you feel stuck or are going through a rut.

Be intentional with your calendar. Make this a priority and dedicate time each day to driving positive momentum into your routine. Listen to inspirational TED talks, attend a networking event, or seek a professional mentor.  Put actions on your calendar that keep you motivated and working toward your dream.  Side benefit:  You may even get some important tips along the way.

Success starts with what you put in your head.  Be intentional.

That small voice?  LISTEN to it

It’s the little voice in your head that is on 24X7 – the one that says “this is your path, this is what you are supposed to be doing, even if it is really hard and is not always as you envisioned….don’t give up on your dream!”

Pay attention to it.  You will know that voice because it arrives before your feet hit the floor in the morning, stays with you through the day and is vividly present as you are trying to fall asleep.  It keeps the wheels spinning.  New inspiration and clarity come from this voice, reminding you that you are on the right path.

Fight the urge to shut it out with your own rationalizations, fears, mind-clutter or the concern for what others think.  And speaking of nay-sayers…..

Shut out the critics

They are everywhere – assessing, judging, critiquing, withholding support and usually sitting in the cheap seats.  Sometimes anonymously, sometimes subtly. Sometimes through whispers, other times directly in your face.  The worst part? Sometimes those closest to us can be the most skeptical.

Just remember — This is YOUR time, YOUR journey.  And guess what?  You get to do it YOUR way.  Stay committed to what works best for you.   Theodore Roosevelt said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man(or woman) who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Be proud of yourself – you are in the arena!  There is nothing more admirable than the entrepreneur who is taking a shot, regardless of the outcome.

Pay attention to the scenery

The entrepreneur’s journey is rarely straight.  But that is indeed the beauty of it.  Entrepreneurs are driven, often moving at a mile a minute. Adventure and learning await!  Yet, while you are speeding down the road toward success, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.   The scenery along the way is filled with new people, places and experiences.  Don’t lose sight of how awesome that is!

Also remember to pay attention to the road signs.  As with every good adventure, there will likely be a few Detours, S-Curves, U-Turns or Dead Ends.  These can be frustrating but are an incredibly important part of the journey.  Be realistic and recognize the road may be a bit bumpy in spots.  Take note, learn from the experience and move on.

P.S.  — Never forget how important the “Rest Areas” can be!

Never. Give. Up.

You have an inner spirit that started you on this path.  You had the confidence in yourself to step out.  Maybe it was the need for a challenge.  Maybe it was a dream to pursue.  Maybe it was an inherent inquisitive spirit.  Whatever was calling you, you took the step.  That may have been the easy part or in hindsight, perhaps the hardest part… but one thing is for certain, being an entrepreneur takes courage!

New ventures take work. And patience.  There will be days that you think “I can’t do this anymore.” When that happens – dig deep.   Reflect on the moment when you first stepped out.  Rekindle that passion.  Find your inner confidence and don’t give up.  You may need to slow down, take a pause, or redirect… but the fire is in you, don’t let it be extinguished.

Journey on….

There is strength in being an entrepreneur and we don’t give up.  The soul of the entrepreneur’s spirit burns strong.  So buckle up and journey on because it’s going to be an amazing ride!

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