I have made each and every one of these mistakes and have paid the price. I write them here so someone who is starting off on the self-employed road can be ready! But even if you are a seasoned entrepreneur, see how many of these mistakes you don’t make!?
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Mistake # 1: Being self-employed means having no boss!
That’s the charm, isn’t it? Being self-employed and having your own business means that no one can boss your around, right? Yes, that is right.
No person is your boss but you need a boss.
Let your calendar be your boss. Because make no mistake, you will under ALL circumstances, need structure. When you are employed, your boss provides you that structure. When you are self-employed, the benefit is that you can decide your own structure, your own calendar, but define it you must.
Commit to treating your calendar as a sacred document. It is sacred actually. For example, the five prayer times that Muslims have all go into the Calendar, and when you tell someone you will meet him/her at a certain time, that’s a promise, so that’s sacred, and goes into the Sacred Calendar.
The myth of a the unstructured, non-systematic, creative genius who (1) succeeds and (2) maintains that success, is exactly that: a dangerous, damaging, career-destroying myth!!
Mistake # 2: Organising is for losers!
I always thought that cool, creative folks do not need organising. And I always thought I was cool and creative.
I mean, sure, have a calendar, treat it as a sacred document even but I still thought that organising one’s office, one’s work place, one’s life (!!) is really for the boring, mechanical, loser types.
Now those organised, boring, mechanical loser types are the only ones who actually do things that matter.
I have always advocated use of “systems” for any businesses. But oddly, I never thought that I would need a “system” for organising myself. I see now that this is beyond a rookie mistake, this was a dumb mistake on my part.
I realised this severe lack of organisation as one of the main reasons of stagnant businesses and haphazard life. I dove into the literature, tested it, applied it every-freakin-where, and now I can say that I am on my way to be “masterfully organised” and I even have a label printer as proof!
You need a system for yourself, it is that simple.
So bottom line: learn organisation, learn how to put everything in its place and have a place for everything!
Mistake # 3: A home office means a place to work in your home!
This is for those who have a home office.
A home office saves you money, yes, and you gotta love the commute, right!? Work in your pajamas is sold as the ultimate dream of the self-employed individual.
Just like “no boss” is sold as the ultimate dream, this “work from home means work like a slob” is a dream that you HAVE TO THROW OUT THE FREAKIN’ WINDOW.
Think about it for a moment: you need to be in a certain state of mind to do meaningful work, regardless how creative you think your work is, right? And dressing accordingly is one of the easiest methods to get to that state of mind.
Other than that, hire a tea boy, install a separate phone system, whatever it takes for you to logically divide your home from your office. What are you doing there wearing your night clothes?? Get out. Change. Dress for the occasion, the occasion of you sitting down and doing meaningful work!
Mistake # 4: A good idea means you can be a good entrepreneur
I feel we treat ideas with too much respect. Sure, you’re the ultimate idea machine churning out million-dollar, world-changing, spine-busting ideas in your spare time — but seriously, how many times have we seen others taking an idea and making a profit from it? While the “idea machine” just looks on and wonders, “why didn’t I do it!”
I have heard many people say, “did you see that XYZ business? I had that idea months ago man!” And the worst part? They say it with PRIDE, don’t they? As if having the idea was the really cool part and executing it, renting out the space, gathering the finances, hiring the resources, putting your neck on the line, taking the risk was all secondary!! Seriously?
Repeat after me: ideas that don’t get executed are called excuses. Pat yourself on the back for having the idea? Never! Test it, take action on it, then pat the skin off your back if you want to.
Mistake # 5: Compare yourself to your friends and peers!
This is the most painful of the mistakes that I have made.
Comparing yourself to your surroundings and your peers is a GUARANTEED mindset to be mediocre. Imagine if Superman compared himself to his peers! He would never have tried to save the world, choosing instead to be happy at just winning gold at all Olympic events (except perhaps synchronised swimming – I mean his cape would ruin it for him).
When I started my first little venture, I thought I had taken over the freakin’ world! Why? Because I was comparing myself to my surroundings.
Then I managed to get into a string of businesses by God’s Grace. But I stopped growing as an entrepreneur because my worldview was limited.
Jim Rohn says that you are the average of your five best friends. Makes sense now like never before. I discovered rats, lots and lots of rats. I am killing them now.
The reason I now am enrolled in a triathlon, the reason we are meeting on the 16th for the LifeETC meetup, the reason I blog, the reason I am still adamant on having a radio show — all of this and a lot more, has a lot to do with my attempts at realigning my benchmark: Stop comparing with your peers, start comparing with your own compelling, exciting goals.
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Question: So, how many of the above mistakes you catch yourself making? And what is the biggest business mistake that you feel you have learnt from? Share in the comments below so others can inshAllah benefit from it too.