Monday was my 5-year anniversary as an entrepreneur. I just dove in, with no preparations whatsoever. I didn’t even write a serious business plan! It has been five years with ups and downs. But it was never dull. I actually love being an entrepreneur! It has taught me so much and I would like to share this with you. Maybe you knew this already, because you have been at it a lot longer than I have. Let my story serve to bring back the humble beginnings of your own journey.
Lesson 1: Trust yourself
In the beginning I lacked self-confidence. I felt the need to please everyone and do whatever was needed. On the first networking experience I had as an entrepreneur someone said to me: “Oh, you just started? I hope you are still here next year.” He kept going on about all the certificates he had gathered in copywriting and I started feeling smaller every minute of our conversation.
I ended up feeling completely miserable and alone. I forgot that I had the best certificate ever: a university degree in Dutch language and culture. Then, someone else walked up to me and said: “Don’t let him get to you. He’s just afraid you’re going to give him really good competition. Besides: you’re a woman, people will give you the ‘gunfactor’.” (Gunfactor roughly translates into granting you getting the job.) After five years, I am still here. Here to stay. I know I do a good job and have wonderful customers and clients who are satisfied with the work I deliver. They’ve never asked me about any certificates. I’ve never seen him again, to be honest.
Lesson 2: You don’t have to do it alone
The first thing I hired someone to do, was administration and taxes. I am so bad at that. I recognized that from the beginning. It’s not a good idea to make mistakes in your tax declaration, so this really had to be done by a professional. As I started in June, VAT had to be done next month, so it was imperative I find someone quickly. And I did.
Last year I also realized, that some things I liked to do before, I don’t like to do anymore. So now, I am looking for someone to take care of my social media. Someone who will publish stuff I write during the week, so I can concentrate on doing things I really like, like writing.
Lesson 3: Be careful who you work with
Also last year, I lost a lot of money working with someone I didn’t click with. And I learned my lesson: I have to trust my gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! It was a very expensive lesson. But it taught me well.
So now, I listen more to my instinct and feelings. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to be in your head all the time. It has much more to do with your heart, your feelings and your instincts than I would have thought before I became an entrepreneur. I am still a business woman, I can be a tough cookie to crack, but I learned to listen to that nagging voice in the pit of my stomach, warning me if something doesn’t feel right.
Lesson 4: Be true to your word
If you promise to deliver something, deliver. It seems so simple, like knocking down an open door, but the number of times I heard about someone promising something and not delivering… That is why I am always honest about my promises. If I can’t do it, I will tell you immediately and advise you to go to someone else in my network. If I can do it, I will help you anyway I can.
So always be true to your word, when you promise something to someone else. If someone promises something to you, remind them of that promise. And always, always, get everything in writing, confirmed in email or with a signature. Or look for a good attorney to help you get paid. 😉
Lesson 5: Remember to have FUN!
Fun is one of the prerequisites of being an entrepreneur. You’ve chosen to become self-employed, to do the things you love best. So enjoy it. I love writing. I love checking texts for spelling and grammar mistakes. And I enjoy doing that. I love creating websites. I love teaching people how to write creatively and heal their bad memories by writing about them. And I enjoy myself. It doesn’t feel like working.
Just because it doesn’t feel like working, doesn’t mean you have to be underpaid. Ask money for what you do best. Register your working hours and put them on the invoice, and don’t forget to have FUN!
PS: Having fun comes most naturally when you work from flow. Do you want to know where flow comes from and how you get to Superflow? Click on the word Superflow and you will receive instant access to learning how to tap into your flow and Superflow!
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.