There comes a time in everyone’s life when they start to question their little box – their 9-t0-5 cubicle way of life. Everyone goes through that philosophical period of time, thinking, wondering how life would be like outside of the stale. Fortunately, I went through that phase about 2 years ago, before I was even a 20-something.
But see, unlike others, dreaming themselves off into the “shoulda, coulda” world, I decided to create my own little universe to dive into, the “shut up and let’s go” universe. And I have to tell you, ever since I locked my first VC investment which rocketed my business, I haven’t regretted a thing! I dared to be an entrepreneur, I had the balls to take on a path I had never walked down before. A maze full with barriers, hardships and traps that weren’t really pin-pointed on a map for me to avoid. I fell and I kept on falling, but every time I did, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and analyzed just what went wrong. I tried to learn from my failures, really embrace the fact that I messed up, and thereby, looked back to strategies on how to move forward.
We all mess up as entrepreneurs, as innovators, and that’s something inevitable, something we shouldn’t be avoiding, but rather embracing. Embracing to learn, embracing to develop, embracing to change.
You know what, here, the three rookie mistakes all entrepreneurs make (and how to avoid them):
1. You’re too worried about problems instead of focusing on solutions
Here is the thing, if you’re a problem-talker rather than a problem solver, you’ll probably be cut out of a lot of opportunities and projects. It’s simple, people don’t work with other people to discuss or bitch about a problem, but rather, discuss and brainstorm about the problem, to strategically and sophistically overcome it, no? That’s how life is: instead of complaining about you having no money or time, you find ways to find money and time.
We all have a choice guys. Whether that means Googling your way to the top or Youtubing every single video on stocks until you become the next Belfort. I’m in my final year of business school, but during these three years I’ve been able to ace my exams and close international business deals – simultaneously. As a side “hobby”, I learned (and still learning) the skill to code, develop websites, and even Photoshop. See, in this day and age, everything you don’t know is available to you, all you have to do is reach out.
2. You think you’re networking when you’re not really networking
I’ll be honest with you, networking for the sake of saying that “you’re networking” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life. Successful entrepreneurs who have a complete insight and vision of where their business is at at the moment and where it is headed towards, know how to sustainably grow and nurture their venture, taking advantage of those networking possibilities in a logical manner. So if you came up with a brilliant business idea just last week, the last thing you should be doing is looking for your first stage of seeding capital, feel what I’m saying?
In fact, at the very initial stage of your business, you should be spending every minute developing and working on your product, improving in order to beat the fierce present, but also future, competition. So if you’re planning on running a factory of key-chains, you’ll have to be swimming amongst key-chains for the next six to twelve months. Forget about friends, screw dating; the simpler you keep your life during this crucial period of time, the better.
Then, once you get your product off the ground, having something decent to present to the public, then you’ll suit up and start networking, talking to people “who know people.” Now before you get all excited about your first networking opportunity, keep this in mind; never expect people to give a shit when you first introduce yourself to the market.
Another aspect I love about networking is that, while you’re establishing the foundations to your essential network, you’re also having this sociological experiment where you’re getting an insight of what questions you have to find answers to. You’re absorbing all the energy that’s directed towards you and converting it into great tools for development, learning what you have to do to make your pitch, your presentation, clearer, more engaging and even funny. Use your day-to-day networking to not just improve your product, but your presentation of the product.
Though the ratio between networking and working/producing should also be fairly even, so get your ass back to work right, in that manner, the right people will come organically.
3. Your emails are way too long and detailed
By now I really do hope that smiley faces and exclamation marks in excessive (not more than one…) amounts are a big no-no. With that being said, writing an e-mail to your BFF shouldn’t really reflect the way you write an email to a potential investor or business partner. Learn to cut your emails in half!
Remember when the CEO responded to your email with one short sentence and you got offended? Don’t. Learn from those “disrespectful” emails and keep them short. And while I’m at it, take out the sender in the “To” field before starting your draft; this will prevent those embarrassing “sent too quickly” emails that makes you feel like a complete dumbass.
Picture credit: Paramount Pictures/The Wolf of Wall Street