Understandings of Mine
This isn't the first time I've tried to do this. I've thought countless times about finding some vehicle or method of conveying my experiences and what I've learned along this journey, but just never had the right way to do it. Until this moment.
Before we continue, I think it would be best to set up a few stakes in the ground to help better navigate the content of this page.
It's called "understandings" rather than lessons and experiences because I believe deeply in its changing nature. A lesson implies something finite or encapsulated whereas I believe that starting and running a business is an extremely developmental process. At least the type of business that I have tried to run myself.
There are a couple of reasons for why I believe this type of information should exist:
- I'm forgetting things. Like, a lot. If I don't jot it down in the moment and make it a living piece of work, it will end up being a memoir, which is just hindsight (and inherently biased. This is my issue with many of the business books that I have read through the years.)
- I need a place to work my ideas out. I've complained (more than I care to admit) a lot about not really having a network of other like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of or aid in finding solutions through conversations. Running a business is a huge mind game, and it works better with peers to navigate the minefield. Which I don't have, but that is ok.
- I want to share the things I've learned to help and encourage others. One of the biggest things that I've come to understand is that many people think that there is only one way to have a successful business and I firmly stand against that belief. Think of people in the world thinking that everyone should get married, have kids, etc. This couldn't be further from the truth (although many people do, the belief that is the only way is just wrong.)
There are many different versions of success and here are some of the things I've come to understand along the way.
Just to be clear, this page will continue to be edited and changed along the way so don't be alarmed if it is different next time you come back.
LEARN THE RULES OF THE GAME
No matter what kind of business you're in, there are always going to be general understandings. Almost all of these are unwritten and unlikely to be shared by colleagues since this is basically a barrier to entry. These rules are unique to basically every possible element in your landscape including uncontrollable factors like consumer fatigue, global economy state, etc. This is another reason why traditional business success stories have a very limited benefit, you can take away some general principles but almost none of it is actionable. This is essentially anything labeled a "tip" or "insider information" or even "advice". People easily develop a reliance on these and get hooked on them, but anyone that tells you that they have the secret is lying to you. The more accurate thing to say is that this thing they tried really worked out during that specific time in that specific location. The key to that sentence is that they tried.
There is no book or person out there that will give you the answers. You need to find them out yourself. It makes you a better operator to figure them out yourself and also gives you the opportunity to create specific and key understandings that you can use to make your business more distinguishable (Of course, I'm not speaking of logistical things like how to file for an LLC. The articles on that are very helpful.)
Get out there. Try many things. Learn and absorb as much as you can along the way. Become a subject matter expert in the world that you would like your business to live in. Oh, and make sure you start this before you quit your day job. Quitting first is like trying to solve a difficult puzzle while the room is on fire. The growing fire in your peripherals is going to make it nearly impossible.
FIND YOUR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE
These kinds of articles oftentimes try to draw a very detailed picture with a roller brush. The truth is, there is no one answer that fits all. Having a keen level of self-awareness will go a long, long way. (Reminder: this is my personal understanding of the matter. There are a lot of people out there that probably disagree with this).
Essentially, you will need to find the thing that will keep you going. For most people, it's monetary gain. And I don't mean like make a few dollars, they want to be rich. Porsche to the reunion rich. Or they want to impress others. I can't really speak on how to make that happen since I'm not motivated by that kind of thing. At least not anymore.
Some people also are fine and happy doing their job and getting a paycheck. Nothing is wrong with this! I oftentimes get accused of being anti-corporation or anti-day job and nothing can be further from the truth (ok I do have some thoughts about typical corporation culture but that is for another section).
It takes a specific type of person that has what it takes to start and grow a business without becoming a mess. There are so many highs and lows that I truly understand how counter "culture" one must be to make it happen.
With that being said, figuring this out before you make any big decisions is so, so important. You will need to know what the specific thing is that keeps you going above all other things. In my case, it's my time. My drive and motivation derives from my desire to choose what I do with my time. Even if it comes at a monetary expense, as long as I achieve this, I will have my version of success (This is something that I think could change by the end of this all, but I hope not!).
People confuse this with "passion" sometimes. Saying something like "I love pottery and that's what I want to do all day" is pretty rare in actuality. They have a goal. Pottery is just an interest, which they want to elevate to a means, but it is rarely an ends.