How To Become an Entrepreneur – 10 Things No One Tells You

This blog is about how to become an entrepreneur and specifically, 10 tough truths that no one tells you. So I spent 20-plus years in corporations and agencies and I spent the last six years building a personal brand and an agency. And let me tell you, entrepreneurship and being self-employed is very different than being an employee. Entrepreneurship in society over time has been glorified in media and online. Yes, some things are great about it, but some things are not so great. Some things are really tough. And so I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about what some of those unique challenges are that you discover when you become self-employed or when you become an entrepreneur.

Working solo or with a team, large or small, these are some tough truths about being an entrepreneur.
1: Self-doubt is constant and it’s normal.
No matter how much experience you have, know how much money you have, you will question your decisions daily. Decision making as an entrepreneur or a solopreneur is really hard. That’s why I’m a member of a mastermind group and I’m starting a paid mastermind group called the Brand Design Master’s Guild. Please look for a link to that group in the description. It’ll be launching very soon.

By being a member of a mastermind, you have a group of colleagues, trusted partners who can help you make decisions, who understand your business, understand your challenges and can give you really good advice. So number one is that self-doubt in your decision making is normal and it happens all the time.

2: You have to be your cheerleader.
You have to be your champion. If you need a lot of external praise or a lot of external validation in what you do, being a solopreneur or freelancer or consultant and entrepreneur is going to be really hard for you. You have to feed yourself, you have to stay positive and that’s got to come from within you. Napoleon Hill, who wrote a book in 1937 called Think and Grow Rich lists psychological positivity as the most important and critical success factor that there is.

3: When anything goes wrong, it’s your fault.
Now, you may even work with partners or stakeholders or other people who help you do what you do, but if something goes wrong, it’s coming down to you. The buck stops with you, you’re the person who’s going to have to fix it. And that’s one of the tough truths about being an entrepreneur.

4: Self-discipline is everything.
No one tells you to get motivated. No one tells you you got to wake up in the morning or get to the officer, get working on that project. No one tells you to get going. You have to be very self-motivated as an entrepreneur.

5: You are never done.
No matter how much you do, how many things you accomplish, there’s always more to do. There’s always more you want to do. You are never really totally off. Your mind is always churning and planning and working on the next thing and thinking about the next thing that you want to accomplish. You’re never done. And that’s one of the tough truths that you have to get used to and find peace with when you’re an entrepreneur.

6: Loneliness is real.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about how the entrepreneurial life is lonely and I got to tell you, it’s true. My first year of being solo was a shock to the system. I went from managing really large teams in a corporate environment to being alone in my home office. And after about a year I started to go pretty badly. You have to actively combat the loneliness when you’re an entrepreneur. You can do that by having zoom calls with friends or other entrepreneurial buddies. You can do that by joining a mastermind or improving your network connections and really pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to connect with people.

As a creative professional, a lot of us tend to be introverted and it’s easy to isolate and not be connected and that exacerbates that loneliness. And then some people are more extroverted and that loneliness is even more severe because they need that kind of personal connection. And being an entrepreneur or solopreneur, if you’re an extrovert, the loneliness is even tougher. So that’s the tough truth of being an entrepreneur.

7: You have to know-how and learn how to prioritize things without help and input.
You have to learn time management. You have to learn how to build systems and prioritize and find methods of working that work for you. Do you do the biggest things first? The toughest things first? Do you do the easiest things first? Do you calendarize everything? Do you just take things on as they come across your desk? You have to really learn how to prioritize and what works for you.

8: You can’t do it all yourself.
When it comes right down to it, the idea of a solopreneur is a myth. No one does it on their own. Everyone has somebody that helps them out with something. It may just be someone who helps you do your financial books or someone who helps you do scheduling or administration. You can’t do everything yourself. You can’t know everything. As much as you want to learn and teach yourself everything, there’s not a way for you to know how to do everything perfectly. You have to be teachable, but you also have to understand and learn to recognize when it’s something that you can’t do or when it’s something that’s not appropriate for you to spend your time doing. So you have to realize one of the tough truths is that you can’t do it all yourself and you have to build a larger network of people who are going to help you in your business.

9: When it right down to it, you do wear all the hats.
The buck does stop with you. You have to handle design and business development and sales and account management and finance and IT and office supplies. You have to become in a lot of regards, a generalist, not just doing design, not just doing an illustration or video editing or whatever it is that you do. If you are running a business, you have to do and learn a lot more things, become more of a generalist than you probably are. So keep that in mind. There’s going to be a lot of growth or a lot of stretching your capabilities into areas where you might not be as comfortable. You have to wear all the hats.

10: your mission has to be bigger than yourself:
Your mission as a business person, as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, a freelancer, a consultant, whatever that is, your mission has to be bigger than yourself because being an entrepreneur is so taxing. You have to have a mission that’s going to fuel you. You have to have a problem that you are solving, a higher purpose that you have to your work that’s going to energize and fuel and motivate you to get you through all of these tough truths of being an entrepreneur. How you can stay motivated, how you can stay focused, how you can make decisions through your business. It can’t be just money that’s motivating you, it can’t be just fame, it can’t be just power. You have to have a group, a population, a consumer that you are serving, that you’re trying to provide a solution to. That’s a higher purpose than just something that’s about you.


The Mandalorian Model: What You Can Learn About Marketing from ‘Star Wars’

When people think of “Star Wars,” the words “conflict” and “chaos” may come to mind. Let’s face it: The residents of the planets across George Lucas’ galaxy rarely live peacefully. Our problems here on Earth are different, but we still have to contend with conflict and chaos.

Consider how public perception and current events can impact our brands or marketing initiatives. We often need to learn how to act on the fly.

Despite the differences between our world and the “Star Wars” galaxy, we can learn a number of lessons from George Lucas’ alternate universe. Take “The Mandalorian,” for example. Here are five things you can learn about marketing from the hit Disney+ TV series and its main character. (We’ll just call him “Mando.”)

1. Develop a strong, recognizable brand

Mandalorians are instantly recognizable, even in places where they’ve never been before. Their beskar armor and unique helmets make them stand out in any crowd. Peli Motto on Tatooine instantly knows who Mando is, thanks to his gear. And when they land on the remote planet of Sorgan — even though Mando mentions he’s never been there before — the krill farmers recognize him. One immediately says, “You are a Mandalorian, right? Or at least wearing Mandalorian armor. That IS Mandalorian armor, right?” The bounty hunter is totally recognizable, even to complete strangers. 

Following this example can nab your company similar benefits. If you own a business or are responsible for developing a brand, make sure your logo and other identifying features are memorable. Distinguish yourself from the competition — by establishing a proprietary style of décor, customer service techniques, or other standout qualities. Consider giving away or selling custom printed items like tote bags to help make your brand become more visible. The more attention you can grab, the more familiar people will become with your brand.

2. Know when to trust your gut

Mando fulfills his side of the bargain with the Bounty Hunters’ Guild by handing off The Child (aka “Baby Yoda”) to loyalists of the former Empire. But before leaving, he instinctively asks the client what they plan to do with “it.” This question is highly irregular and just asking breaks the code of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild.

Adhering to the code, the client doesn’t answer. But later, as he heads off to claim his next bounty, Mando’s gut is clearly telling him something’s wrong. So he returns to reclaim Baby Yoda from the warlord and, upon rescue, finds The Child to be highly distressed.

If you’re in the midst of a deal, investment, promotion, purchase, or other business situation where an important decision must be made, it’s OK to rely on your gut instincts sometimes. Data is great for helping you inform yourself, but isn’t the last word in every situation — especially if something feels “wrong.” Also, not every decision you make will have a quantifiable result, so you must sometimes go on your intuition and experience.

3. Know when to take risks

This goes hand-in-hand with trusting your gut. There are just times you have to take a calculated risk even though you know the consequences might be severe. After the Empire fell, the Mandalorians had gone into hiding to survive. Yet, they emerge again to aid Mando’s escape with The Child. They do so at great risk to their safety, revealing themselves to the stormtroopers and other imperial loyalists. But they take this risk because they understand the importance of Mando’s actions.

In marketing, you don’t always know which big initiative is going to pay off. You can do your research, collect the data, and create your campaign. Many ventures will succeed, though some might not. (Remember The Gap’s new logo fail in 2010?) Even though an idea may flop, you never know which one will become the next brilliant or successful marketing campaign. The key is to know when it’s a good time to take a risk — as timing is everything — and what level of risk you can absorb, just in case.

4. Master the art of negotiation

Mando learns from new friend Kuiil that violence isn’t the solution to everything, that negotiation could be a useful alternative. He allows Kuiil to barter so he can get parts from his ship back from the scavenging Jawas who stole them. Mando later uses his new skill while working with Toro Calican to pursue the assassin Fennec Shand on Tatooine. To reach their destination, they must cross Tusken Raider territory, so Mando takes Toro’s binoculars and gives them to the raiders. In exchange, the Tuskens let the duo cross their land.

You don’t have to be in conflict with other life forms on different planets to use negotiation. You can use it in your everyday business dealings. It’s not always easy, but it can be very effective — and lucrative. Think about negotiating with your suppliers, vendors, and even your customers. Skillful negotiation can yield great results.

5. Know when teamwork can get things done

Episode 4 of “The Mandalorian” is all about teamwork. In it, Mando and The Child land on Sorgan, where Klatooinian marauders are using heavy-duty weaponized Imperial Walkers to attack a village of krill farmers. Mando and The Child team up with the villagers to fight them. The villagers want Mando to do all the work, but Mando and ally Cara Dune explain how they can’t beat the AT-STs alone. As a result, the villagers learn how to shoot, build a trap, and generally work together to fight back. The kids of Sorgan take on the care of Baby Yoda while the adults battle the Klatoonians. Everyone has a job to do. As a result of their teamwork, they defeat their enemy.

In a professional environment, relationships are vital to success. Whether it’s working toward a mutually beneficial goal or using your networking skills to build business alliances and deals, you’ll need to follow the principles of teamwork to get things done.

Knowing who you are, when and how much to risk, and when to ask for help are all imperative skills in daily life, business dealings, and intergalactic warfare. “The Mandalorian” is meant as entertainment, but a closer look at the storytelling reveals just how many marketing lessons lie beneath the surface. 

9 Ways To Stay Motivated When You Work From Home – Productivity Tips

Hi everybody, welcome back. A lot of you work from home. A lot of you are consultants or freelancers, and you may work alone. So in this blog post, I’m going to talk about nine ways that you can stay motivated when you work from home.

1: Dress for work.
I recommend that you actually get dressed for work, that you dress up just like you would be dressing to go to an office, and working with other people, or that you dress just like you were going to have a video conference with an important client, and you are going to have to stand up in your whole body would be seen by dressing up, it sets you up in a mental state where you are going to be more productive, and you’re going to be on point for work.

2: Setup Daily Goal
You want to set three top goals, and of those three goals, you want to choose one that if you move the ball forward just a little bit on that one goal today that you would feel like today’s is a success. And you take that one goal and you start with that one goal. Before you open the email, before you go on social, before you go on the web, you address that one goal for one solid hour at least. And make some progress on it, because the thing is when you start off productive in a day, it’s much easier to stay productive through the rest of the day. When you start off answering email and going on the web and you’re easing into the slow-motion aspect of getting productive, it’s harder to be motivated.

3: Calendar your day.
I like to say, “If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t get done.” I also use a software as a service app online. It’s called Toggle. It also has a desktop version, but it’s a timer that I set when I’m starting on a project, so I know I’m on the clock, and being on the clock is really motivational. Also, setting specific times for specific tasks on my calendar throughout the day makes me realize that I’ve got to move from one thing to another, and I set specific time limits on a particular activity or a particular project. And if I run out of time, I move on to the next one. You can always come back to the project that you didn’t finish, and a lot of times when you do that, you come back with fresh eyes, or you may come back with a little more energy to that project. But I guarantee you that setting your goals on a calendar for the day and also using a timer is going to keep you motivated and keep you moving forward.

4: Get an accountability partner.
It’s a proven fact that when you share your goals with someone when you share what your plans are for what you’re going to get done, you feel more accountability, and you feel more motivated to get it done. So I suggest getting an accountability partner. You take those three goals that you’ve set out for the day, and you have a very quick Zoom call five minutes, a quick phone call, a quick Skype, whatever it is, and you share your goals for that day. By sharing your goals with another person, you will stay motivated to get it done. Because here’s the second part, and that is that you check-in at the end of the day for another five minutes, and you report back on what you got done, and that person is also reporting back to you.

So number one, it’s a great relationship builder, and number two it’s super motivational and will keep you on point when you know that you’ve got to report back to someone else at the end of the day about what you got done. Now mastermind groups are also great for accountability in that regard of having an accountability partner. They tend to be a little longer-term, meaning you might only meet with your mastermind group once every week, or once every two weeks. So that can be motivational, but having an accountability partner for a particular day really keeps you motivated for that day.

5: Another person involved, and that is to make a promise publicly.
Put it out there on social media, what you’re going to do that day. Now, no one may be really paying that much attention to it, but for you just know that it’s out there, it’s a psychological thing. Just knowing that it’s out there is going to be motivational to you, that you’ve put it out there saying, “This is what I’m going to do.” It’s psychological for you. And also you have put it out there to the public in a public way that sets up this level of accountability.

6: Change the scenery.

When you’re working from home, or you work alone, whether that’s in a coworking space or somewhere else, just changing your scenery can be really motivating, and get your energy and your juices flowing again. So if you work from home, go to the public library, go to a coworking space, go out on your patio. Sometimes even going to a different room in your house, or sitting in a different part of the room can establish a new point of view, and can be motivational, and can re-energize you in your work.

7: Take breaks.
Now taking a break may feel a little counterintuitive in terms of being productive or being motivated, but in truth, it’s not. Whenever I take a break, when I take a breather, want to get away from what I’m doing, I always come back with an avid level of motivation and energy to solving that problem. The trick is to just get away from it, to go take a walk, to relax, to think. You want to give your brain a rest, and what happens when you do that is your brain actually keeps working on the problem that you were just working on. A lot of times if you’re looking for inspiration or you’re looking for an idea, just resting your brain and bringing it into a quiet place, your brain will go into those machinations, and a lot of times it solves the problem on its own. So when you come back to it, you may be sparked with a new idea, or a new approach, or added energy for how to deal with what you are working on.

8: The eighth way to stay motivated is to stay inspired.
You want to look at what other people are doing, and I don’t mean compare yourself to others, because that can lead to a de-motivational kind of mindset. But would you want to look at what other people are doing, what they’re writing, what they’re designing, what they’re posting, what they’re sharing, what they’re doing for their clients, and use that as inspiration? New ideas for your business, for your products, for your services can come through looking at what other people are doing. Find in it what inspires you. What could you do better? What could you do differently? Staying inspired can be really motivational.

9: Carrot on a stick.
This is the easy one. You want to set up a reward for yourself. Say to yourself, “If I get X done, I’m going to get X.” So, if I finish this project by midnight, I get to go out and have a burger and fries, whatever that is. I get to watch a Netflix movie tonight. Set up a reward for yourself that establishes a goal that’s going to be congratulations for your staying motivated, for your staying on task, for your getting the work done. And the bonus is, make it not about you. By making it not about you. It takes it out of an aspect of being self-centered, your motivation being self-driven. Think about who it is you’re helping in your work, who it is you’re helping with your products and your services. What are you doing for them? What value are you creating for them? How are you helping them succeed to move their businesses forward? I know that when I think about the people I’m helping, it’s really motivational to me. It happens to me when I d write blog posts. All the posts I do, I do to help people, and I give without expectation of return, and I find that it’s really motivational for me to do that. Make it about the people that you’re helping.