It’s been one year since I quit my job and started the life of a self-employed entrepreneur, father, and boyfriend. It’s been hard to say the very least. It’s also been a year in my life that I’ll never regret, never repeat, and never be able to fully explain to anyone else what it was like. I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned about myself, life, love, and business in the last year.

  • I wouldn’t know how to perform without tough competition. Be it a brand, a person, personal goals, or the expectations of those around me.
  • You will do a lot of apologizing. To customers for errors in orders, late orders. To vendors that you need to return items to, missed bills. Missed meetings. Unreturned calls. Neglected friends. Get use to it.
  • You’ll have to “forget” a lot of things. There will be times when someone betrays your trust – a friend, family, or business partner. The obvious and all too common reaction is to overreact. Raise your voice. Yell and scream. Send strongly worded e-mails and text messages. All of these are toxic actions and will only do more harm. In most cases it is in your best professional interest to forget. Simply walk away. You either never deal with this person again, or you calmly keep them in your back pocket and utilize the relationship in the future.
  • You have to have a built in desire to succeed. There needs to be something deep inside your character that allows you to take the hits and get on with trying to win.
  • Too many people will tell you what they know. What you should be doing. What they’ve done, etc. Pay attention to the ones who practice what they preach.
  • You will challenge a lot of personal relationships. People will talk negatively about your success. Evaluate those around you. Take note of who was there before the success and who showed up in the middle. Make a mental checklist of who will still be around if you fail miserably tomorrow.
  • You’ll learn from your successes and victories. You’ll learn far more from your failures if you open yourself up to that idea.
  • Take risks. Everyday you’ll be faced with 10-15 choices between risk and safety. Safety is predictable and inside your comfort zone. Risk is new, exciting, and less traveled. Always choose risk.
  • You’ll never move forward if you’re always paying attention to what’s behind you.
  • Commitment to what you said you were going to do is everything. Long after everyone has told you how wrong you are, or what they’d be doing. Stay true to your dreams and your visions. They can live out theirs on their own projects.
  • Discipline is as important as anything. Being self employed is not easy. You don’t know where a single dollar is coming from. It would have been very easy for me to sleep in all day, play video games, watch a bunch of TV, hang out all day with friends, etc. Instead, I focused like a laser. To a fault really.
  • Take time for your family. I fell victim to getting so wrapped up in working hard to succeed and provide for my family that I neglected the very family I was trying to provide for. There is no amount of money or success that can ever replace your family.
  • At the start, a lot of people will ask you why you’re doing something. This is a running theme of this list so far. Everyone will question you, especially on the tough decisions. Eventually, they’ll be asking you HOW you did it. Trust me.
  • You are responsible for every choice you make. It’s not your friends, it’s not the economy, your other job, your relationships, the weather or an argument. You and and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period.
  • You’ll have to weather a lot of storms. But they all pass.
  • You can only continue growing if you maintain a beginners mindset. As soon as you think you’re an expert your curiosity fades and your learning stops.
  • People will question all the good things about you as a person, but believe all the bad things without a second thought. This plays into their own unhappiness and insecurities. It’s not you. You’re awesome.
  • On that note, always speak well of others. Never of their faults.
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