When I was 18, I started my first business, and it happened out of necessity. I was in school, and bills were piling up. The 2008 recession hit, so jobs were scarce, and I wanted to transform my circumstances. I was passionate about cars, and I knew how to detail them, so I started a professional detailing service. My drive and tenacity forced me to solve problems in unconventional ways.
Driving down this road, I had to use my own GPS. Of course, I hit speed bumps and chipped a windshield or two along the way. But staying the course and going it on my own has given me great insights as an entrepreneur, boss, co-worker and dedicated community member. The following is how I found success as a serial entrepreneur:
Adopt a transformational mindset.
I had doubts when I started, and it was not clear whether my business would be successful, but I was committed to changing my circumstances. I sought advice from mentors, coaches and experts. I also believed I would grow, change and ultimately succeed. I willed it into existence through focused and disciplined effort. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.
From my perspective, you must desire and believe in the transformation of yourself, your business, your world, etc. Otherwise, nothing will change. The military taught me that meaningful transformation takes time coupled with desire. Start with small changes, but stay persistent and assured.
Imagine yourself in two parts: Who you are today and who you are in your dreams. What is the most realistic chance you could make first? You could probably do it today.
Leaders take charge and fill in the gaps when needed.
Don’t be afraid of learning, and lose that ego. I was my first employee, which means I’ve put my share of miles on the odometer in the shop. Leading doesn’t always mean high-level decision-making and looking at big-picture stuff. I needed to know every minuscule detail of my business, including the ordering of supplies, how to schedule work, best hiring practices, business expansion and beyond. Think of leadership as an opportunity to grow and mature and learn something new.
Also, remember that a little elbow grease builds character, especially in management roles. Consider the way you work, and ask yourself: Are you a “why?” or “why not?” person? In my opinion, “why not?” people embrace challenges big and small because their attitude is open and accepting.
Vision and creativity demand a stimulated mind.
Own your passions, and celebrate them. Obviously, you have to get work done. But you need to also find time to embrace yourself. I travel, explore cultures and meet new people to keep my mind active. You’ll need that active brain to get yourself and your organization past those unavoidable roadblocks.
This goes for your employees, too. Encourage them to recharge their batteries with their interests. As their leader, learn about those interests. Who knows? The source of your next inspiration could already be in your office.
Ensure success by believing in honesty.
I have learned that honest and open communication with your team, clients and even your neighbors is essential for a business to thrive. I must trust my employees for them to trust me. Work runs not only smoother, but also I can gradually take my hands off the wheel, trust in the autopilot and focus my gaze on the future.
That said, trust must be earned both ways. Take steps to earn your employees’ trust. For example, own your mistakes, and be honest with the reasons underlying those errors. Only then can you and your organization learn from these scratches in the tint. When was the last time you made a mistake? Did you tell anyone? If not, do so. Lowering your pride can help you achieve many things.
Support the communities that support you.
I believe you have to put yourself out there to be successful. But sometimes you won’t be successful, and when that happens, you’ll need the community that supports you and surrounds you. Do you know who they are? Have you looked into your local business councils? Introduce yourself, and let them know what you do, where you are and your enthusiasm to develop a relationship with the community. Volunteering on a board or committee is a great way to give back. No matter how talented you are, no person can make it totally alone.
I like chasing dreams and solving problems. And as a serial entrepreneur, I’d encourage others to follow their dreams and solve the big problems of the world. Entrepreneurs and dreamers make the world change, and so can you. Do you have a great innovation for your organization? Tell your manager. Do you see a gap in your market? Visualize a way to fill it.
Just take it slow, and remember to embrace a mindset of transformation. Take charge, and don’t forget the small stuff. Stimulate your mind, and celebrate your passions. Believe in honesty, and connect with and give back to your community. Even if all you have is an idea, you’ve already started.