Its been 6 months since I left my job and started building Project Endure (among other things). In that time I’ve learned quite a bit about business, about life and about myself. Through it all, I’ve encountered two groups of people. The first group can’t fathom why I would leave a stable job to pursue something as vague as “creating unique impact.” The second group has a desire to do something similar and has questions about the process of becoming a full time entrepreneur.
This blog is for the second group.
When I left my job I understood what I was risking but to be honest, I didn’t know what I was stepping into.
To be fair, I think that diving into entrepreneurship requires a certain level of ignorance and I hope that I don’t ruin that for you here. Before I tell you what I’ve learned, I want to express that while entrepreneurship has been incredibly challenging, it’s been even more rewarding and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Let’s jump in…
1. Ownership Comes With a Cost
I left my job with the understanding that I was removing a ceiling but also a safety net. While being in complete control of my time has been a blessing, it also comes with the underlying stress that I alone am responsible for the impact that I’m creating, the money that I’m making and the energy that I’m expending. In other words, being able to do what I want, when I want is incredible but that comes with an understanding that the good and the bad are all on me.
2. Entrepreneurship Is About Personal Growth
From the outside looking in, it appears that entrepreneurship is about business – it is but it’s not. Being an entrepreneur (to me) is about maximizing time, impact, growth and life in general. It’s about making a living but more-so about living on my terms as I learn, struggle, improve, connect, encourage and lift others up along the way. In short, entrepreneurship is what allows me the freedom to grow into the person that I want to become – it’s a pursuit that allows me to do what I want, when I want, with who I want and how I want.
3. Slow Is Smooth and Smooth Is Fast
I still remember the frustration that I experienced during the first few weeks of entrepreneurship. There were just so many opportunities and I didn’t know where to begin (I wrote about it here). From the beginning I wanted to move fast but life forced me to slow down. Entrepreneurship has reinforced the power that comes with consistent action and that little by little, little becomes a lot. Looking ahead I feel more comfortable with taking slow, deliberate action because I understand that constant action compounds over time – slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
4. Some Opportunities are Distractions
Pursuing entrepreneurship freed up a lot of time and created space for a myriad of opportunities. I’ve been learning the hard way that not all opportunities are created equal and that sometimes we have to say no to good opportunities that don’t align with our path to hold space for great opportunities that further our mission. I’ve never been good at saying “no,” but I’m learning that saying “no” to something is saying “yes” to all of the other possibilities. Here’s to being more selective with opportunities going forward – I would encourage you to think about how this concept applies to you.
5. Boundaries are Imperative
If you couldn’t tell, I have addictive tendencies. In the past I’ve had moments of awareness that have led me to cut out things that weren’t helping me become who I knew I could become (alcohol: blog coming soon). In current times, fitness and business are “addictions” and I don’t use that term lightly. My wife can attest that I would work (and have worked) until I was a zombie. Being married in addition to entrepreneurship has been an incredible blessing because it’s forced me to become better at setting boundaries. The work that I do doesn’t feel like work and that can lead me to a place where I work at the expense of relationships. I could write a book on this but I’ll end here – intentional boundaries are imperative.
6. Put People Over Productivity
This blends into the previous lesson but in the business of coaching and connecting, I’ve learned time and time again that loving people well isn’t always productive but it’s always important. In business and in life, relationships have to come first and that can be challenging at times. While navigating this space we also have to be careful not to give so much away that we don’t have enough for ourselves because as you might have heard – you can’t pour from an empty cup. If anyone is looking for the book that changed my life in this area, I would highly recommend Everybody Always by Bob Goff.
7. Sometimes Good Enough Is Good Enough
I have high standards and for the longest time I was convicted that how we do anything is how we do everything. That combination of thoughts trapped me into giving all out effort to every single task (including washing dishes). Entrepreneurship has taught me that sometimes good enough is good enough and that it isn’t efficient, effective or intelligent to go all out all of the time. Part of being an entrepreneur means being as efficient as possible and I’m starting to find a better balance between great and good enough (the perfectionist in me still struggles).
8. Don’t Sacrifice Impact For Income
When it comes to business, finances both excite me and scare me. In other words, money is often on my mind and sometimes I can be tempted to choose income over impact. However, I know deep down that in the end, money doesn’t matter and impact is everything. I’ve been making an intentional effort to choose impact in addition to (not at the expense of) income and it’s been both fulfilling and fruitful. The specific lesson that I’m learning here is that when impact comes first, income tends to follow and if you want both, you have to choose impact.
9. The Mess Is Where the Magic Happens
It’s amazing how we can look at what other people have built and assume (consciously or subconsciously) that it was a smooth, simple and straightforward process. From firsthand experience I can tell you that everyone who builds something experiences the ongoing messiness of entrepreneurship. There are weeks where things feel great and then moments where it feels like everything could unravel in a minute. I won’t belabor this point since I’ve written about it before, but when you step outside of your comfort zone you will want to run – don’t… the mess is where the magic happens.
10. Those Who Dance…
When I left my job there was an outpouring of support but also a few people who just didn’t understand and I can’t blame them. Based on their perspective it didn’t make sense to leave a steady, stable and well-paying job to do something that had no shape or form and very little initial plan. However, I understood that people might not understand and there’s no better way to express this sentiment than with the quote that ends this blog. If you want to join a community full of people who are dancing to different music than the rest of the world, we would love to have you (check out this video).
This blog just scratches the surface of what I’ve learned through entrepreneurship and there will be more to come down the road. However, for now I want to encourage you to keep doing hard things (entrepreneurship or not) and lifting others up in all that you do. There have been some tough moments through this process and I wouldn’t be where I am without the people who support me and encourage on a consistent basis (including anyone reading these words).
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