Four universal entrepreneurial truths
By Alison Gilbert
I’ve worked with, now, over sixty entrepreneurs building businesses across all sorts of industries, with all sorts of business models. Every entrepreneur is different and unique, as is each one of their businesses and the respective challenges they tackle. That said, with all the nuances of each entrepreneur’s goals, styles and needs, here are the top four truths that I’ve observed as universal to the entrepreneurial experience:
There is no magic bullet for anything
Almost every entrepreneur at some point in our conversations has approached at least one challenge with the idea that there is a magic bullet of a solution for it. There isn’t a tried and true playbook though. There isn’t one singular recipe for how to solve the challenges of your business. The sure fire way to build the business that grows is, truly, to listen to yourself. Create the space to HEAR yourself--whether that be making more alone time in your schedule, finding a support system to talk things out, seeking out mentors and advisors to gut-check and validate your thinking. And even then, they will not have the answers. All the conversations, readings and observations you make are input in your thinking. The answers are inside you. Listen to yourself. Trust your gut.
Entrepreneurship is a creative (and emotional) process that needs to be trusted.
Oftentimes I see founders at step 1 looking at step 10 worrying about the future. Vision is helpful and grounding but also anxiety inducing when there are still steps that need to be taken to get there. If you focus too much on getting to step 10 without focusing on the next step in front of you, you’ll get stuck in analysis paralysis and won’t go anywhere. Let your vision and future ideas ground you. Trust where you are and trust where you are going. Have faith that you will get to that step 10 in time. Anchor yourself in the confidence of your future, keep chipping away at the present.
Building from a place of wanting to make a bigger change in the world is the most sustainable business driver
The reality is being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It’s a TOUGH job. The reasons we sign up to be an entrepreneur are varied and personal but amongst some of the many reasons are to make money, be a boss, live a certain lifestyle. But here’s the thing, when the going gets tough, making money, being a boss, those are not going to be the drivers that pull you through. Having a reason, bigger, and outside yourself is critical because there is going to come a time, many times in fact, that you ask yourself, why am I doing this? And you’re going to need something bigger, grander and outside yourself to cling onto, focus on what that is to guide you moving forward.
You must *feel* the numbers of your business
You’re building your business to fulfill a bigger mission, yes, but at the end of the day what makes a business a business is a transaction of a service, a good a product in exchange for money. Without money and, in time, a sustainable way to make money, you don’t have a business. That means you need to “touch” the financials and really feel that cash in and out flow to make those decisions (a very scary and emotional process). Feeling the money, getting into that spreadsheet, mapping out a budget, plotting out estimations of revenue to generate, that’s what’s going to get you in touch with that most brass tax, core part of building a business for you to move toward your goals. *Feel* that money.
Alison Gilbert is a pastry chef turned COO turned founder of business strategy studio, Project AG, focused on helping women entrepreneurs turn their vision into business growth. Alison has scaled media companies, guided tech product pivots, launched commerce and fashion brands, and has advised over 60 entrepreneurs in the early-stages of growth. She loves to bake and geeks out over all things introspection and self-discovery. #process. Say hi on Insta! @alisongilbert @projectagco