This morning when I woke up I followed my now normal routine. I drank a 32 ounce bottle of water with my favorite energy powder added, put on workout clothes and headed out the door for a 3-mile walk/run. That’s what gives me the energy I need for a good, long work-day. Which is what I most often have.

On my walk I sometimes listen to music, but I mostly listen to podcasts. My mind is flooded with inspiration and ideas that speed up my walk to get home and get to work.

Like nearly every other speaker or business owner of any kind, this year has been a challenge. It started out set to be my best ever. My contract with one of the top five largest school districts in the nation had just been renewed, and my calendar was booked with speaking engagements through November!

Then the world basically shut down in the blink of an eye. Three month’s later, and we are dealing with another crisis which impacts me greatly as a black woman, business owner, president of the alumni association for a predominantly white institution, and most importantly- mother to a black son.

Even though everything changed for my business, and I didn’t know how it would make it, did I give up? Nope.

Why? Because…

1. I have a S.O. What! Mindset. I know that challenges will ALWAYS come, but my attitude and actions will ALWAYS help me overcome them.

2. This is not new. Today I celebrate seven years since I said goodbye to the stability I had experienced with my great corporate salary. For seven years I have dealt with and overcome business (and personal) challenges and income instability. So although I was excited about how 2020 looked like it was going to be, I was already mentally prepared for it NOT to be.

I have survived major ups and downs (maybe more downs) in my business, but most businesses don’t make it to seven years. Most individuals would have given up.

So if you are an entrepreneur or are thinking about becoming one, I want to offer you 7 Tips on how I have survived the first 7 years as an entrepreneur.

  1. Get a mentor – Find someone, better yet, some people to follow. Look for people doing what you want to do and people who are where you want to be.  I have mentors who will never know me, but I also have people I can call and who call and check on me.
  2. Be Coachable – You’ll lose that mentor who gives you advice that you never take. If you think you have all the answers, skip the mentor and just learn from mistakes. You’ll make mistakes no matter what, but you’ll make more (and costly ones) if you don’t seek and take advice from people who have done what you’re trying to do.
  3. Plan and Prepare – If COVID-19 hasn’t taught us anything, I think we all see a greater need to plan and prepare for the unexpected. In business that’s critical. Think about where you want to be and how you PLAN to get there. And keep in mind the specific issues that can arise and how you’ll deal with them. That mentor can help you think of those issues that you may have no idea to expect.
  4. Network – Besides your mentor, connect with other people. Find people who are where you are in business and trying to grow too. Build relationships with people who have businesses that could use your business, people that you can give business, and people who have nothing to do with your business because you never know where that relationship might take you. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups and professional associations. Get connected and get involved so that people know who you are.
  5. Understand YOUR Business – Do you really know what your business is? What do you or will you offer? What problem are you solving and how are you doing it? Over time your business will evolve as you figure things out, but having a clear initial idea of what your business actually is and how it can make money is critical.
  6. Understand Business – Even with an MBA I sometimes get cross-eyed looking at financials, thinking about taxes, making strategic plans, etc. And as an entrepreneur, you are often the CEE- Chief Executive Everything. Utilize resources like the Small Business Development Center and SCORE to get a better understanding of how to actually run a business and how to get support.
  7. Keep Learning – People who don’t understand entrepreneurship are confused by how much I say I’m working, especially during this pandemic. A lot of my time is spent on developing new programs and enhancing my offerings. However, I am also in a constant state of seeking knowledge and practical information. Webinars, online courses, research tools are all your friends in helping you to KNOW your business and what you should offer and GROW your business by running it more effectively.

Of course there are many other aspects of surviving and thriving as an entrepreneur that you need to understand, but I believe these basic actions are what have kept me going…even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Want help keeping your business (or even your life) moving forward? Let’s talk!