Almost 6 months ago, I “took the leap” and started my own company. Thinking about it now, the phrase “taking the leap” illustrates one of two outcomes in my mind. The first, a magical set of wings sprout out of your back and you gracefully fly toward the sun – success and wealth at your fingertips (I wish). The second, a grislier, anxiety-ridden picture of falling straight to the cold, indifferent earth (depressing, I know).
In truth, when you “take the leap” to start your own company, neither of those things happen. In fact, you aren’t leaping at all. There’s no immediate success or immediate failure. Instead of starting at the top of the cliff and leaping, you start somewhere in the middle, suspended, and the things you do every day allow you to climb a little higher. Some days you might even take a few steps back down. On my personal cliff, I’ve gathered more than a few takeaways in the past 6 months. Here are a few of the noteworthy ones:
Say Yes More than No.
Everywhere you go, every person you meet, every conversation you have, you are selling yourself and/or your product. A recent Forbes article identified the best predictor of career success as simply being in an open network instead of a closed one. What this means is interacting with people outside your industry, peer group, hobby, religion or location. This could mean simply trying a new yoga studio, saying yes to the invitation to attend your friend’s coworker’s live music event, or joining the Chamber of Commerce. The more people you engage with, the more you will find opportunity and business growth knocking at your door.
The Learning Curve is Real.
Every single day I find myself learning something new. Whether it’s something silly such as keeping track of your business miles so you can write them off, or something more difficult such as not to hand over all your great, strategic ideas to a client before you get paid, or you probably won’t (true story). The most important thing I’ve had to remind myself over the last 6 months is that all these lessons are building blocks for tomorrow. With every mistake, I make a point to ask why it happened and what learning I need to take away so I can avoid it the next time around.
You can’t build a business in a day. Or 3 months. Or even a year.
Bottom line, it takes time. It takes time for networking to pay off. It takes 10 rejected proposals to finally score one. It takes 5 failed marketing methods to find one that actually generates leads. It can even take up to 6 months for Google to properly crawl and index your website so you show up in organic search results. Understanding that no one thing is going to cause the decisive success or failure of your business – that it takes constant, steady forward motion, trial and error, and ultimately, patience – to build something great.
So instead of picturing myself “taking the leap”, I now picture myself on an epic climb. The scenery is beautiful, the air is fresh, my heart is pumping and every day, I make progress.