5 Pillars for Strength as an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is absolutely brutal. You’re venturing out on your own, ready to prove to the world that you have what it takes to succeed. The problem is that you are initially alone. You have a dream and maybe some funding.

Launching a startup has been compared to launching a plane down a runway while you’re still building it. It might take flight, but you’re more likely going to run out of runway and crash.

If you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to focus on becoming a stronger, more resilient leader, dreamer and doer.

1. Learn to Prioritize Your Time

You’re the HR Department, Recruiter, Office Manager, Janitor and Fearless Leader. Some call this role the “Chief Bottle Washer”. Your time is incredibly valuable. How you spend your limited time and energy will have a dramatic impact on the success of your business.

So, get ready to live off of a task list. I personally use Microsoft’s OneNote – it’s accessible on every device I use, and it allows me to leverage the pen that came with my convertible laptop.

Before you jump into a task or project, consult your list. Are you doing the most good with these minutes? If something else would be more impactful, it’s time to re-calibrate your approach.

2. You Need to Budget Time for Quality Rest

Entrepreneurs have a variety of sleep cycles. Some are early risers, while others are more nocturnal – working long after the sun has gone down. You need to find your natural sleep cycle and build a daily rhythm around it. 5-6 hours of quality sleep is an important pillar for finding strength as an entrepreneur.

Generally speaking, if you’re working with corporate clients, it’s best to try and adapt your sleep cycle to become an early riser. Corporate hours are traditionally 9am-5pm. But if you are on the east coast and your clients are on the west coast, you’ll need to be ready to go at 6am your time to answer calls and emails from the people funding your business with reliable business.

3. Build Relationships, Not Just Contacts

Relationships are the life-blood of modern business. Just having someone’s email or phone number isn’t good enough. You need to invest in the people around you. This means going to networking events, reaching out to thought-leaders in your field.

If you’re chasing an opportunity to sell your products or services, roll-up your sleeves and prove your value. Do some free work. Show them what you and/or your product are capable of.

Be exceedingly careful with your words. When you make a promise, your ability to deliver will define whether your business relationships grows stronger or weaker.

4. Get Your Financial House In Order

Starving sales people are ineffective. It’s easy to tell when someone is trying to sell you a product or service out of desperation. You need to ensure your financials are in order. This means having an emergency fund – #$&! will happen – and ensuring client invoices are sent out on time.

Remember the plane taking off from before? Your cash in the bank is your runway. Even if you manage to get the plane close to being airworthy, if your runway is too short, you’re going to have a difficult time achieving success.

5. Approach Your Job with a Servant’s Heart

In Hollywood, CEOs are often portrayed as ruthless tyrants that will stop at nothing to try and make a buck. In reality, the greatest leaders serve their teams and their customers. They are humble, but firm when necessary. The job of a great leader is to find ways to empower their team to serve their customers.

The start-ups that succeed are lean and mean. Forget the layers of bureaucracy. It’s time to focus everything you do and say in the service of your customers.

Do you think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

James Lang

James is the Editor of Small Business Sense. His background includes freelance ghostwriting about things that impact SMEs, startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. He hasn't had a boss in more than six years, and hopes his content will help you fire yours.