Sunday, May 1, 2011

Three Habits of the Successful

Over the years, I have people admire how I managed to carve out an independent business and lifestyle. I've known many of my contemporaries, who upon seeing I did it, try to also join the ranks of the freedom. In watching those people try to start a business and head back to a "secure" (that is a very loose term these days) job, I've learned a few things about why my business is enduring. Here are three things to do if you want to be an independent freelancers or entrepreneur.

Focus and commit -- one foot left in the shallow end while you try to jump into the deep end won't work. What I really mean is that if you start a business with the backup plan to just go back and get another job should things not work out then you're going to lack important commitment to make it work. You are keeping that one foot in the shallow end. It may be as simple as having online job announcements sent to your email box, which shows you would consider it. I personally have and never will consider it. In fact, the idea is repulsive to me. I've been on my own for five years. I can't imagine working in a stuffy office and taking orders from someone else.

Realize it's not all fun -- I am always amused by folks who only want to enjoy the fun and try to leave the less-pleasurable to someone else or just don't address it. I know one person in particular who had such a bad case of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," she just partied on ... in front of clients even. When it came to critical business issues, she just either just ignored them or treated those around her like a personal slave and took advantage. And in the middle of that, things like tax season came around. This person was so prone to avoid reality, she didn't properly track what she needed to do tax-wise. The quickest way to "sink this ship" is for an audit to come round, and you don't have the proper records. Uncle Sam won't give a darn about your desire to party down and profess a total hate-fest over accounting. I've talked to business owners who got audited. Not good! When you're in business, it can't be only about 10 ways for you to play around. All play and no work = bankruptcy or a nasty audit.

Networking -- another deal-killer are those business folks who think networking is akin to a trip to the dentist to pull teeth. You cannot hide in your office and hope your own "Field of Dreams" is in process. Networking is critical. I know one gal who just hates networking. In fact, I know two gals who hated networking. Guess what happened to them? Can you say a nice corporate cubicle awaited them? You cannot be an entrepreneur and not network. I'm not saying you have to spend the day eating one ton of rubber chicken at boring luncheons. I'm saying, make your connections, get out and meet people, and spread the word.

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