51 lessons learnt in year 1 as an entrepreneur

Being Smarter is a year old today. A year ago to the day, I sat at my desk with a blank canvas, a very small amount of money and a clock ticking. It’s been a fascinating journey – The 8.45 Club was born, I’ve met some great new people and learnt so much.
I wanted to share the (at least) 51 things I’ve learnt so that I can potentially help you as well as acknowledging the folks who’ve helped me…

  1. Get things right on paper before you go anywhere near a keyboard.
  2. Don’t work when your son’s making a giant snowball outside with another dad. Even if you have a deadline. You’ll regret it.
  3. Data is not data until it is backed up. Regularly.
  4. The Thirty Day Challenge is an inspiration.
  5. Visions and missions can only be developed when in transit – evolve yours over time by mainly doing as opposed to mainly thinking.
  6. Twitter is a serious business tool.
  7. Seth Godin is a genius. He writes in 8.45 Club style – short and to the point and that suits me (and 000’s of others) down to the ground.
  8. Have a testbed for software. Once it’s working, don’t fiddle with it. Ever.
  9. Networking is still one of the most important skills ever and should be taught at school. Without it, I wouldn’t have met the wonderful Lesley Everett.
  10. Choose who you work with (if you can). I’ve been blessed with great clients in the last 12 months. They’re great because they do what they say they are going to do and value me. Do yours?
  11. Know what your USP is and ensure it’s remarkable as Seth says.
  12. Learn when to switch the PC off – it will still be there in the morning.
  13. An A3 pad is a great asset when you are about to start a new project.
  14. I’ve been inspired working in subject areas I knew nothing about. You could be too. Thanks Graeme.
  15. WordPress is the answer, what’s the question.
  16. A green screen studio inc lights, cameras and mics can be bought for £1,500. And carried around the world. Want to see what you can do with a green screen?
  17. Personalised webpages (which can be produced in 15 seconds by a technophobe) with a prospect’s name in the URL get 100% click through. You can do this too now!
  18. Have a VERY understanding and supportive wife or partner. (Thanks Suz)
  19. David Meerman Scott and I have something in common – we both love practical examples to demonstrate concepts. The difference between us is that he’s on top of his game and I’m still working on it.
  20. I appear to have created 131,928 files in the last 12 months. Develop an electronic filing system that works and use it dilligently. Use a networked hard drive.
  21. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” (c) My Dad 1945 – current day.
  22. When was the last time you put a magazine/newspaper clipping in a real envelope and sent it to someone. They’ll remember you.
  23. Google Reader is an essential business tool. Learn how to use it.
  24. Appreciate it when clients actually look after you when on their patch. I’ve never been looked after like my new friends in New Jersey did / do.
  25. No one should start a business without an online component to it, or you are missing a trick.
  26. As the E-Myth states, focus on making your business scalable from day 1. I have an org chart with my name in every position which I’m slowly going to backfill. Do you?
  27. Learn how to find out what people are searching for in Google – it’s the single best market research tool on the planet. Ask me if you don’t know how.
  28. Don’t spend hours trying to save a few $£’s – it’s not efficient use of time.
  29. Don’t say “I can’t believe I can’t work today because it’s a Bank Holiday” out loud. Keep it to yourself – people will think you are nuts and won’t get it.
  30. It’s actually really good to stop and pick the kids up from school. But it’s also OK to be doing emails whilst cooking tea for 6 children. Fishfingers are pretty resilient.
  31. Figure out what buyer personas are.
  32. Go out of your way to THANK people. It seems to be unusual these days.
  33. Losing hours or days because you can’t solve a problem is OK. Bodging it is not OK. Giving up is not OK either.
  34. Seek advice actively from people you trust (here’s one). Create an advisory board of people around you. You DON’T have all the answers.
  35. Understand when to let go and when to get an expert involved.
  36. Write your eulogy in bulletpoints. Then live your business and personal life like you want to be remembered. This isn’t as wierd as it sounds.
  37. When you finally take a holiday don’t let your daughter get chickenpox or you’ll need another holiday straight afterwards.
  38. Don’t get so caught up in your endeavours you forget birthdays. Use Moonpig.com.
  39. The software you want is already built. You may have to tweak it but for goodness sake don’t reinvent the wheel.
  40. Learn new stuff. All the time. Or what’s the point?
  41. Nick Spooner you are right – ‘Tell stories and solve people’s problems’ is good advice.
  42. Be generous with your time and show people how to do items 1-51 on your list.
  43. Become a connector – figure out ways of introducing people.
  44. Only have 5 email folders. Inbox, Sent mail, Hold, Follow up and Archive. Gina Trapani is a legend.
  45. My prediction is that www.elance.com is going to be indispensible to me over the next 12 months. It could be to you.
  46. Tim Ferris has done it and got the t-shirt. I’m a living breathing case study who’s aiming to get there.
  47. It will always take longer than you think.
  48. In 2009, projects should take weeks and cost 00’s. If yours is going to take months and cost 000’s you may want to think again.
  49. Firefox every time. Bye bye Internet explorer.
  50. 10 minutes a day. After 8 months of testing – it resonates. Find something that resonates.
  51. And finally – drink beer from time to time with people who inspire. Andy Palmer – Thank you.

Here’s to the next 12 months.

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7 replies
  1. Tommiles
    Tommiles says:

    Brilliant! Workable! Inspiring! Very Seth Godin-ish My hero, too). It’s so darned good, I’ll probably plagiarize some of your ideas here.

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