I completed my first year as an entrepreneur a few months ago. Time to draw a conclusion and summarise my 13 most important lessons.
Entrepreneurship is not rocket science
From the outside, it often looks as if starting up and developing a business is a highly complex matter. But if we are honest with ourselves, it is not rocket science. Common sense, in my opinion, is the main ingredient for a successful launch.
It comes differently than you think
No matter how long you prepare to start a business. One thing is as certain. It comes differently than you think. Many plans and ideas arise from assumptions you have about your business. But these are usually built on quite thin ice. But even if the factual basis is more extensive, founding a company remains an unpredictable thing. There are simply too many factors which have an influence and which one cannot know or foresee at the beginning.
Observation is one of the most important tasks of an entrepreneur
In my opinion, observation is therefore one of the most important tasks of a founder. Only through continuous observation and analysis can one determine what works and what doesn’t and learn accordingly.
It is important to remain flexible
A lack of flexibility is poison for entrepreneurship, as it means that important opportunities are lost and elementary changes to plans are prevented. Therefore I think it is important to have a rough target in mind at the beginning and to have an idea how to reach this target. A detailed business plan that defines all activities down to the smallest detail per month is rather counterproductive here, as it blocks more than it helps. That is why I see entrepreneurship as a game where you have a clear goal in mind but then, depending on the situation, plan and implement your next move.
You are not alone
Especially at the beginning of the company foundation I sometimes had the feeling of being alone and a little helplessly at the mercy of the big system. But then I quickly realised that one is not alone. Outside there are many companies that have to deal with the same situations and challenges every day. In addition, there is always someone who can give you professional help with one or the other thing.
Do your own accounting: No thanks
At the beginning of my self-employment I believed I could do everything myself. But I soon realised that this was probably not the smartest way. The best example of this is accounting. In the beginning I refreshed my accounting knowledge, bought a few books and tested software. But even the best book cannot cover every ambiguity and every special case, so I ended up spending hours researching financial sites and forums, which in the end only made me feel even more insecure. The result was unnecessary stress and sleepless nights until I had taken the decision to hire an accountant. It costs money, but the investment is worth it and takes the burden off your shoulders. It is also important to know that an accountant is affordable even for someone in the early days.
Those who have no money are gone faster
Before you start your own business you must have saved enough money to finance yourself for 2-3 years or have your livelihood financed by the support of your partner. How much money you need depends strongly on your lifestyle. The lower you set your own demands, the easier it is. Almost all new entrepreneurs I have met who only had money on their side for 2-3 months have disappeared from the scene
Cooperation is an important driver
Cooperations with other entrepreneurs make many things easier, can provide new business, important contacts and valuable knowledge. It is also easier to create larger entrepreneurial challenges within a team. A further advantage is that through cooperation you can expand your own range of services even further and thus become even more competitive on the market. Therefore, you should look for good and trustworthy cooperation partners right from the start. It is always important that both sides benefit from the cooperation.
Learning, learning, learning
As an entrepreneur you must be willing to constantly challenge and expand your own knowledge. This is the only way to remain competitive and offer customers the decisive advantage.
Nothing works without energy
At the beginning of self-employment it must be clear that the task of starting and running a business takes a lot of energy and time. If you do not plan breaks and lead an unhealthy lifestyle, this has a negative impact on productivity and performance. It is also important to know your own energy rhythm and plan your day according to this rhythm. Personally, I have found out that I have my energy highs in the morning and late afternoon tomorrow. Therefore I used exactly these times to be productive. All other times I use to build up my energy reserves or to do routine tasks.
Focusing on what is important
In order to make rapid progress as an entrepreneur, it is important to concentrate on the really important and goal-oriented measures. At the beginning of each day I write down the 3 most important todos which have the biggest positive effect on my company. These I do first.
Switch off distraction
One of the great things about entrepreneurship is that you get to know yourself extremely well over time and also learn what makes you less productive.In the beginning I struggled with a lot of distractions. It helped me a lot to identify the time eaters and to shut them down. Only then did I see how great this impact was and how much valuable time was lost that could be used either for oneself or for the company.
Being an entrepreneur is great!
Setting up my own company was without doubt one of the best decisions I ever made. I have never regretted having taken this step, as entrepreneurship enriches my life in many different ways. In the first year of founding my own business I have learned a lot, met great people, regained creativity and am more inspired and happy than ever before. Being an entrepreneur gives me the opportunity to be myself and pursue my own ideals and ideas.