When I reflect upon my journey to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, it’s been a wild ride.
In fact, I didn’t always set out on this path. I spent most of my adult life training and serving in the Navy. Becoming an entrepreneur was something I only gave thought to later on in my life.
And what made me change paths?
I realized that the life I was living wasn’t my definition of success. Sure, I’d progressed far in the military and was very happy with all the opportunities it had provided me. But it wasn’t giving me the type of life I wanted to live.
I was stationed on the other side of the world from my family and friends. This meant that I missed out on a lot of family memories. I decided I needed to make a change.
Today, I’d like to share with you my journey from serving in the military to full-time entrepreneurship. I’ll also share the three key aspects that helped me make the change, so hopefully, you can apply them to your own entrepreneurial journey.
Defining What Success Means To You
My motivation to become an entrepreneur and live a life on my own terms came from pondering what success meant to me.
It’s one thing to have the outward appearance of success. Perhaps you’ve received a respectable degree from a great college, or have advanced in a career path which many people admire.
However, if the job you have isn’t giving you the lifestyle you want, you can’t truly say you are living up to your own definition of success.
I strongly believe that, before taking the plunge and becoming a full-time entrepreneur, it’s vital to define what success means for you.
When you have a carefully considered definition of success, it gives you a guiding compass by which you can make all your decisions. You can ensure that your time management is in line with your idea of success, and you can use it to determine the entrepreneurial opportunities you do and do not pursue.
So what are some aspects of success you need to consider as part of your entrepreneurial journey, whether at the start or along the way?
- Location. For me, being on the other side of the world, away from my family, was not something I wanted to do any longer. So being able to work from home was a key part of my success criteria. For you, it might be different. Perhaps you want to live the digital nomad lifestyle. If so, you’ll want to ensure your business gives you time to travel. Consider where you want to work as part of your measure of success.
- Time. How much time do you want to spend on your business? This will determine whether you opt for a more hands-on line of work, such as freestyling, or something a little more hands-off, such as a passive income business. Thinking about how you want to spend the hours in your day, and how many of them you want to devote to your business, helps you narrow down your choices.
- Long-term. What’s your eventual aim? Many success teachers, such as Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins and Richard Branson, have taught the importance of setting a long-term aim and working backwards from it. When you have a long term goal with regards to money, growth, or whatever else, you can break it down into smaller steps as you work back through time.
For me, the book ‘The One Thing’ was a huge help in defining my vision of success. No matter how you do it, I suggest you take the time to consciously consider your tangible success story. This will be a powerful motivator and guiding force as you advance in entrepreneurship.
Managing My Time Strategically
One of the biggest changes for most people moving into entrepreneurship is managing their time in an efficient and effective way.
It can be tempting to get stuck in the trap of reactivity. Instead of spending our time in a way which is in accordance with our long-term aims, we end up reacting to the seemingly urgent, mundane tasks that pop up. This can take the form of responding to each email as it comes in, or refreshing our traffic stats throughout the day to see if our website is performing well.
Instead, it’s important to take a step back and manage our time in a more strategic way. There are several aspects to this that I found helpful. I firmly believe that when we take control of our time, we become more focused entrepreneurs, and our growth accelerates accordingly.
- Map your day. Often, we are surprised at how we actually spend our time when we track it. For me, I found I was wasting a few hours each evening watching movies on Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed them! However, it was time I could cut out and focus on entrepreneurship. Map out your time for a week. You’ll probably quickly identify hours you can devote to your business.
- Limit certain things. As mentioned above, it’s easy to get stuck replying to everything the moment you can. Instead, many time management experts such as Tim Ferriss advocate limiting email checks to two defined time periods in a day, for example. This helps keep things manageable and allows you uninterrupted time to spend on meaningful business activities.
- Schedule growth. If you don’t schedule in specific times for activities such as taking courses, they often end up getting pushed by the wayside. By dedicating time in your schedule to them, you are far more likely to make the most of these meaningful opportunities to grow.
For me, a game changer was rising very early in the morning. You might prefer to stay up an extra hour or two. No matter how you do it, make the most of your time. Take charge of your schedule and ensure you devote enough hours to the things that matter as well as the squeaky wheels demanding your attention.
Building Teams and Systems
Starting out, the majority of people will be solopreneurs.
This is natural. We often have day jobs, families, bills to pay, and other things that stop us going all out with our entrepreneurial dream at the very start.
In fact, I’m a firm advocate of Pat Flynn’s approach to starting slow and testing a business before going all in. I also firmly believe that you need to carefully and conservatively map out the financial implications for any business or creative project you plan to pursue. For example, when I started publishing, I needed to have a careful understanding of the cost of a book. This is especially true when you have a family who depends on you.
However, as your business grows, you’ll probably realize there are more and more demands on your time. It often becomes a smart decision to hire an assistant or a small team to handle certain things.
Of course, building a team comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. I feel I’ve learned a few lessons about this while building the team around me at Kindlepreneur. To be specific:
- Communication. Having effective communication systems in place is vital, especially if the team is working on a remote basis. It’s worth getting specific apps for team communication, such as Slack. Also set clear expectations for response times to messages and emails. This ensures everyone knows the standards that should be met.
- Collaboration. In a traditional office, people naturally have the space to talk and share ideas. This can be harder with a remote team. I feel it’s important to have video calls a couple of times per week. This is the next best thing to face to face. It helps the team feel connected and allows for collaborative ideas to develop.
- Systems. As you grow your team, there are more and more tasks to keep track of. It’s vital to have systems in place to help things run smoothly. You might want to use a specialist app like Trello, which allows for easy project management and also has a good mobile app. No matter which system you use, you need a way to quickly and effectively keep an eye on what’s going on.
A key part of my entrepreneurial journey was hiring a team. It’s a learning curve and I hope to continue growing in this area. However, as you build your own team, keep the above lessons in mind. A team is a responsibility and you owe it to them to be as effective and supportive as possible. The right team can help your business flourish, but only when clear systems are in place.A team is a responsibility and you owe it to them to be as effective and supportive as possible. The right team can help your business flourish, but only when clear systems are in place. #Youpreneur Click To Tweet
What Next For This Entrepreneur?
Thank you so much for checking out my journey. I hope the tips and experiences I’ve shared with you here will help you with your own business.
It’s an exciting time for me. I’m just about to release the version 2.0 of my software. I also just celebrated the fourth anniversary of my authority book marketing website.
I’d love to hear about your journey. Feel free to hit me up through my website. Let me know where you’re at on your entrepreneurial path, and what challenges and opportunities are currently in front of you?
Chris founded Youpreneur® in 2015. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling books “Virtual Freedom” and “Rise of the Youpreneur”. He hosts our podcast, live events and coaches our clients inside the Youpreneur Incubator. Chris is based in Cambridge, UK.