Entrepreneur — Lessons Learned over 40 Years — Part II
2018 — Forty years into my personal Journey of Self-Employment . . . let me share further reflections and lessons learned from Living my Entrepreneurial Dream.
(Please see my previous post, Entrepreneur — Lessons Learned over 40 Years — Part I)
Fast Forward to Today
As explained in my previous post, my personal Entrepreneurial story involves following my passion into: Flight. Fashion. Family . . .
(Also interspersed throughout these years: Entrepreneurial, Business, and Life Coaching/Consulting; Magazine articles published; and most recently, Buffalo sales!!! :))
Through all this I’ve learned to work HARD, and I’ve made many Self-Discoveries.
“Be True to You” (For me: Small is Beautiful :))
As explained in my previous post, with my Fashion Accessory Venture, Blossoms of Dawn, I did the “Wanting to get BIG” thing. Fancy big accounts. Employees. Trademark Registration. Patent Pending . . .
Expand. Expand. Expand!
But in the long haul, I discovered, that’s not me.
I don’t like managing people — it’s hard enough to manage me!
They say in the investment world that you need to figure out your “tolerance for risk”. Oh, it’s easy to say, “I’m all in! Go for it!” Until you lose the $1,000-plus investment you made. As in, poof! All gone! And you find out, you really don’t have a high tolerance for risk. For loss.
So, I discovered: Limit my risk, my loss, by limiting my hiring — to just me!
Sole-Proprietor: No employees:))
Sanity restored :))
(I know there are many who say: “Unless a venture can run without you (the founder), it won’t last.” Yet this simple approach of Self-Reliance has worked out well for me :))
Energy ~ Intuition
I’ve found Self-Employment to be far more than just Business-like stuff: Find a product. Create a Business Plan. Marketing. Sales. Profit and Loss . . .
Rather: Find the Energetic Driving Force of something Stronger, Higher, Deeper, than just making money.
Energy. Intuition. Pizzazz!
Think about the Entrepreneurs we all know: Jobs. Zuckerman. Musk. Certainly, there has been more to their success than just following a well-thought-out business plan.
Passion. Spark. Desire.
Coupled with: Hard Work!!!!
When I’ve attempted business ventures from a purely technical, flat-line formula, they’ve seemed to flop!
(I’ve had a few of these — usually when I tried to push something that sounded good in my head, but felt bad in my gut.)
The energy surrounding the project/product has to have its own Spark.
Invest in YOU
Turns out, on my Entrepreneurial Path, I discovered: I am the product: My skills. My persona. My expertise. So I better spend what it takes to get me up to top speed. In my industry, and beyond. ~ DawnSeeker
Chase down what you need to know. To learn. To be the very best at what you do. Conferences. Workshops. Classes. Conventions.
Jump in. Take the risk. Invest in YOU.
And . . . then follow through. Put what you learned to ACTION.
Nose to grindstone. Late hours. Lack of sleep.
Whatever it takes.
Brainstorm! Seek out Mentors. Read. Study. Listen. Learn. Apply.
And never, ever stop.
Shift. Adjust. But not stop.
“Winging It”– Self-Motivation
In Part I of my Entrepreneurial Lessons, I relate how learning to FLY helped fuel my successful Self-Employment Ventures.
In flying, I learned to TRUST: My good airplane. My good training. My good sense of timing, and knowing that I’ll know how to handle whatever comes up.
Literally, as I learned to wing it in Flight with a very real airplane, I learned to wing it in Business with very real dollars and cents.
“Winging it” is an Art Form in itself. And it requires a good deal of Self-Discipline.
When my Intuitive inner voice tells me to DO something — to call someone, or attend to a particular task or detail — I’ve learned to listen, and do! Follow through.
Cease to resist. Stop arguing, and just get it done!
(Sometimes, it tells me NOT to do, and I’ve learned to honor that, too :))
This listen and DO, Self-Starter skill set, has been a successful part of my personal journey.
(And like the skills of a seasoned pilot, in certain instances, I believe that listening and following through has actually saved my Life!)
On Selecting a Product or Service
How do you know when you have a good, viable business idea?
Like a good landing in an airplane, things have to be aligned in order to work out well.
If you have to PUSH too hard to get something going, that’s not a good sign.
If it’s too hard to explain — if you have a sick or sinking feeling about an endeavor when you start talking about it, if you feel you have to “convince” them, that’s not good either.
Look for the item, thing or service that has a Life/Momentum of its own, a Buzz surrounding it.
A feeling of “Wow!!!! That’s awesome!!”
The item itself, has to generate its own Good Vibes.
On Expanding Too Soon
“Don’t expand until you’re bursting at the seams!” — Blossoms of Dawn lesson
Don’t jump into that perfect (expensive!) office, thinking that will attract the work. Stay small, make due, wait to expand.
Stick with the old car, the old wardrobe. Upgrade only when you really can.
Better to stick it out in a limited situation than move into a payment you cannot afford.
Connect with your Clients
This has proved to be a big one for me. Not only for success in my career path, but for happiness and satisfaction in my Life.
Cut the clients out who cause you strife. Angst.
If there isn’t mutual joy, it won’t really work, anyway.
Seek out the happy face in the crowd. The ones who resonate with you, and your message.
My Mom had a saying: “Just do your BEST.” That’s all that you can do. (I have a sign by my kitchen door stating just that, as a reminder.)
Do what you’re best at. Take your best care of the job at hand.
The rest will take care of itself :))
“Give Me Something!”
This famous quote in our family came from a former boss of my brother. (A separate post on this topic to follow :))
Bottom line: We all like to feel special — to be recognized and given a little something extra in exchange for our loyalty.
So when performing our product or service, look for ways to add appreciation and value, and perhaps a bit of fun.
I like giving little helpful things that cheer my client’s day.
A jar of local honey.
Trader Joe’s Belgium Chocolate :))
It’s often the little, happy things that get remembered.
When you make a commitment, keep it.
If you’re running late, call.
If you haven’t spoken to a client in a while, check in.
Be proactive in your communications! Don’t wait for them to call you.
When you feel a client think about you, when it just seems like “time to check in” — take action. Call!
They will appreciate the psychic connection, that you think and care about them.
Don’t Fret over the Competition
We tend to worry over losing a client or job. We worry about the competition. That’s human nature.
Yet I’ve (eventually) learned to celebrate the lost work. Roll down the window and cheer!!!
~ The late Bob Skradzio, horseshoer for more than 60 years, had this to say about getting fired:
“I’ve been fired by more fourteen-year-old girls than you can shake a stick at. ‘Mr. Skradzio’, they tell me, ‘You don’t know anything about shoeing horses.'”
(A well-respected East Coast farrier, Bob started shoeing horses at age 12 ~ he certainly did know all about shoeing horses :))
I’ve learned over the years, when I lose an account, something better is coming to fill its place.
Nothing lasts forever. Change is part of the ebb and flow of Life.
Bless it. Love it. Embrace the change. (See: Ch-Ch-Changes!)
Metaphysics of Money
I’ve learned that money isn’t what it appears.
Plain and simple.
If I hang out in fear or angst, I shove the energy, the money, away.
If I mellow into “All is well . . . ” it comes my way, like a magnet.
Like breath . . . In, out. In, out.
When I give, release . . . it shows. Grows. Takes care of my needs.
When I hoard, it shrivels.
So I’ve learned to keep giving. Breathing.
Stay Grateful for all I have, and all that is.
(See Gratitude is . . .)
On Borrowing $$
I’ve also learned that sometimes, financially, you have to ask for help.
Like a few years ago when my Jeep engine blew.
Who to ask? What to say? How to be sure I can repay?
Borrowing money works as long as you promptly pay everyone back — with interest. (Some people will refuse the interest.)
Brainstorm all the possible off-the-wall options to solve the problem at hand . . . think outside of your everyday box.
Communicate. Keep good records. Keep your agreements. Send thank you notes!!!!
And when you get the genuine inner tug to give or loan to someone who needs your help, go for it!
Creative solutions always exist!
(Right now I’ve done a trade deal with a client and dear friend, swapping out a horse carriage for several loads of hay, solving both of our problems :))
Remember — there are people who don’t have issues with lack of money, and, thank God, they are genuinely happy to help!
Health and Scheduling
I’ve found staying healthy to be similar to finances — it’s all about energy.
Managing and maintaining my energy.
Because I cannot work when I’m sick. Broken. Injured. (See my post, Overcoming Injury ~ Life Lessons.)
Nor when I’m worried over scheduling, timing, running late, or how to get everything done . . .
If I hang out in fear or angst, I shove my energy, my health, away.
If I mellow into “All is well . . . ” it all works out.
Like breath . . . In, out. In, out.
So again, I’ve learned to draw on my Pilot skills, calm my nerves and systematically go through the steps I know that will accomplish the task at hand.
And if I do need to take a few days off to preserve my energy, or recuperate from a difficult job, I’ve learned to listen and follow that leading, as well.
(In recent years I’ve made changes to my diet, vitamin and herb supplements, and come up with strategies that have helped me maintain my weight, increase my energy and ward off sickness and flu. Hurray! It truly can be done :))
Everything is Good. Always!
Important in calming the nervous system and overcoming obsessive negativity is the attitude: “Everything is Good. Always! Both the Good, and the Bad.”
Ultimately. Always. Good.
No matter what it is . . .
(Sometimes I need a reminder on this! See My Yoda Story)
When a problem or situation arises, rather than get uptight — what a temptation, I’ve learned to do my best to:
- Remain calm
- Search for a solution
- Bless it
- Love it
- Journal it
- Breathe into it
Rather than act out of fear:
- Know — there is an answer
- Know that everything always works out . . .
And, somehow, it always does :))
(See My Miracle Book)
Kinda/Sorta Guarantee :))
I remember freaking out during the first year of Blossoms of Dawn, and calling my Entrepreneur-Uncle (Dad’s brother, Conway), for business advice. Things were going well, but how could I know if they would continue? How could I be sure that it would all work out?????
“Ha!” Uncle Conway gave a big chuckle. “That’s the thing about working for yourself. There are no guarantees. But after a while, you sorta figure, you can kinda count on it.”
That was the only guarantee I ever got! But somehow, it kinda/sorta has, and still is, all working out. ~ DawnSeeker
And there you have it. My only kinda/sorta guarantee! And it’s seen me all the way through forty years.
So that’s my Entrepreneurial Wisdom —
Straight from the Horse(shoer’s) mouth :))
Distilled from Forty-something years of Self-Employment.
Perhaps a type of Spiritual/Metaphysical Entrepreneurship.
But it’s worked well for me :))
It’s Easy, really
Nothing to it!
- Set your course toward your Passion
- Climb to get there
- Chase after it
- Master it
- Wrap it in Goodness
- Breathe Love into it
Pure Metaphysical Alchemy.
Like landing an airplane.
Like shoeing a horse . . .
Like spinning straw into Gold :))
I still fly airplanes. Usually on my birthday, and since I’m no longer current, always with an instructor. (See Aviation, Family of Flying)
I still trim and shoe Horse Hooves, as well as take people out on Trail Rides and Carriage Rides with my herd of well-behaved, homebred horses :))
And I am still passionate about Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment.
I enjoy: Brainstorming new products or gizmos or gadgets; Helping others Map out a path to solve their Entrepreneurial roadblocks; and helping People and Horses experience the Fulfillment of their Dreams.
Best to you in all your Entrepreneurial Endeavors!!!!
Keep it Passionate! Keep it Fresh :))
Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Soul Horse Ride
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Photos by Dawn Jenkins
Additional photo credits: R. Trento, E. Jenkins, S. Curry