30 Lessons From My First 90 Days as an Entrepreneur

Blog_30 Lessons from my first 90 days
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It’s been three months now since I left my full-time job and built up my own company. And I cannot remember a time in my life when I learned so much in such a short amount of time.

It’s just the beginning. I have a long way to go. But so far I love the learning experience of being an entrepreneur.

Here are my biggest insights so far:

  1. Until you actually run your own business, you have NO idea what it means. I always smiled in disbelief when people said that to me because I read so much about running your own business and being an entrepreneur, but it’s so true. 
  2. Everything will take much longer than you think – A LOT longer. Double the time you estimated for any given activity and you are probably spot on. There are just so many unexpected factors that we don’t account for. 
  3. Discipline is everything. Nobody else will tell you to sit your ass down to work or to leave your comfort zone and do something that you are afraid of doing. It comes down to the commitment you make daily to do the work it takes without knowing that your work with pay off.
  4. You will have a seemingly endless to-do-list and can lose your mind if you don’t manage your own expectations. There are days when my head was spinning because I did not know where to start. Ruthless prioritization and focus are key. I started setting only 1 big goal per day which supercharges my focus and increases my effectiveness tremendously.
  5. It’s harder than you think. You have to learn to master the inner game of being an entrepreneur – managing your mind and your emotions are probably the hardest aspects in starting a business.
  6. Equally, it’s more liberating than you think. The freedom I feel in creating what I want and managing my time according to my energy is incredible.
  7. Everyone has advice on what you need to do . And you will suffer if you take too much of it to heart. It’s so important to keep on course and listen to yourself first. It’s invaluable to learn from others who have figured out your problems, but don’t forget to tune in with your inner compass.
  8. Opportunities come from the most unexpected places. And they very rarely come from the people you expect. 
  9. Getting help can save you countless hours of learning to figure it out by yourself. And sometimes it’s worth the investment – even if you are short on cash. That way you can focus on creating and delivering an awesome product.
  10. You need to be patient with yourself. You will build a lot of new skills like sales, marketing, website building, and finance. That’s one of the aspects I value the most in my work as an entrepreneur. But learning takes time and patience, which goes back to point 2. 
  11. It’s tempting to worry about your web design, logo, and branding as a first thing, but those things should come after you are crystal clear about your target audience. I fell into this trap as a person with “shiny-object syndrome”. And I would do it in a different order the second time around.
  12. Changing your mind frequently will make you lose a lot of time. That’s probably one of my biggest weaknesses because my mind toys with so many ideas every day and I get excited by new stuff. You will go much faster if you commit to an idea and stick with it for a period of time.
  13. Overthinking keeps you stuck. Action brings more clarity than anything else. I need to remind myself all the time that it’s better to go out with an unfinished idea quickly and test it, rather than working on the concept for weeks only to realize that it’s not what people want.
  14. Documenting your progress will make you feel more accomplished. I tend to forget what I accomplished since I am working on so much. Writing down my daily wins fuels me with energy. 
  15. It’s easy to burn out fast when you love the work that you do. I forget about time and thankfully my cats remind me to take breaks. Self-care is so critical and I make sure that it’s part of my schedule so I don’t skip it, i.e. booking Crossfit classes and blocking this time in my agenda.
  16. Your relationships change. People who work in day jobs have a hard time understanding what you are going through and sometimes unintentionally put pressure on you. Try to be authentic with them and don’t feel that you need to impress them.
  17. Your mind may bounce from one idea to another – even during your sleep. If you were to act on all the ideas you would feel completely overwhelmed and unfocused. I started a parking list to make sure that I can come back to the ideas when the time is right.
  18. “Create before you consume.” We have a tendency to look outside for answers, but make it sure you first bring out everything in your own mind, before tapping into other people’s ideas. There are countless amazing free resources out there. You will learn a lot from other people’s experiences, BUT if you are not careful with your consumption of content, you will lose your own voice. This one was one of the hardest realizations for me. I now make it a rule to create before I consume.
  19. Social Media is a “beast” to manage. Before committing to a certain content schedule, ask yourself if it’s realistic to maintain. Better fewer posts consistently, than daily posts on and off. 
  20. Before you build your website, spend enough time to choose the right platform. WordPress is the most flexible one out there. One of my biggest mistakes was going for Squarespace in the beginning. This cost me so much extra time to rebuild my website on a second platform.
  21. Sometimes you will make one step forward and two steps backward and that’s okay. It’s part of the process. Fighting it will just make you more unhappy.
  22. People can be unreliable and getting upset about it is pointless. Some people don’t answer emails and texts for days. I used to get annoyed by that but now I try to let it go.
  23. Especially as a first-time entrepreneur, you tend to fuse with your business as one and the same identity. This is risky and will cause you more pain when you are struggling in your business. Remind yourself that your company is the thing you DO not the thing that you ARE.
  24. You have to become your own best friend and encourage yourself when things are tough. No one else will care as much or let you know that you are doing well. 
  25. Building a business is a messy, non-linear process. Layer after layer, like building a house on mud. (Hopefully, the mud will dry into a stable foundation with time.)
  26. Building a business is one of the most valuable experiences you can ever make. I did my MBA, but while the MBA is practical from an academic perspective, there is no better school than getting your hands dirty in the field. 
  27. Running your own business will test you continuously, and many things you do will make you extremely uncomfortable. You will be out of your comfort zone most of the time (if you are doing it right). But that’s good! You are growing every single day.
  28. You will get to know yourself more than ever before. I now know where my limits are and how much I can push myself. I also know how to pep-talk myself out of difficult situations.
  29. Most days my work feels like it is extremely worthwhile and meaningful. Especially on days when I see that something resonates with my audience. 
  30. You will not know everything or have all the skills you need. But you will figure it out as you go. And it’s better to start and suck than to perfect your product and never launch.

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