Some of my favorite conversations with my students are often entrepreneurial ones. Not because I love talking money, but I can tell the interest comes from an innate desire to create a profession out of passion for themselves, as I have for mine.
I guess I just like helping a curious mind?
In any case, the following are my 'pillars of principle'. I never stray from these principles and they shape every action I make.
Principles shape process, process drives profit.
Keep in mind, it is just a foundation. Simply because my house is still 'under construction'. I'm young in the game and I'm not ashamed because my mentors are deeper than your average. Their money is long, companies high, because their principles are deep. So it's only right that I start, the way they do--with principles, not ideas.
A set of all small hops is quicker (and safer) than a huge leap.
I started my gym in my basement in 2009.
In 2011 I grew to a 1500sq.ft semi industrial space.
In 2013 I moved to a bigger industrial unit and started a sports therapy clinic.
In 2015, I have a slightly bigger commercial unit (but a whole lot better) on its way.
So I basically gave myself 6 years to grow into a legitimate commercial business. 6 years. I did in 6 years, what most entrepreneurs attempt in 1.
That statistic may make me seem slow, and it probably is by some standards, but it's definitely steady. Throughout these 6 years, I've never worried about poverty, having to repay money (didn't use any loans) or missing rent. EVER. In 5 years, I have never missed rent, or a utility bill. And I am very proud of this.
Most entrepreneurial stories are wrought with volatility, as if that experience has to necessarily be about weathering storms and surviving threat after threat. I have never experienced any of these volatile moments simply because I never force growth too early.
This allows me to provide a better service simply because I'm inspired to do so (and not desperate for money and all things associated). Small leaps is about growing as you grow. It's about slowing ones business growth, to match it timely with ones actual level of ability.
We all have million (or billion) dollar ideas. But is the author capable of million dollar execution? Million dollar leadership? Does he/she possess million dollar skills?
If the new entrepreneur is steeped in reality and not fantasy, then I always recommend to start small. Challenge yourself to hit a bunt. A base hit. A double. A triple. Then challenge yourself to do it consistently until hitting doubles and triples are your average and become easy. The process may be longer, but by removing the need to hit a home run every night just to survive, one can grow calmly and truly learn, instead of rushing to achieve.
Build yourself up to an all star level, over time. Assuming you are an all star on day one without due process is ignorant, and ignorant gets you killed. Understand, when we take large leaps too early, we force ourselves to be a Lebron James (drafted at 18, never played a second of pro ball, and takes a basement franchise to the finals within three years). This is a great story to tell, but on average it's more fiction than fact. There are more Joes out there than Lebrons. I'm not saying that shooting to be a Lebron is impossible, I'm saying you'll increase your chances by growing into an All Star over 7 years rather than placing your very survival to be that all star on your very first year.
Lasting success, is a product of learning, not sales. Put yourself in a position to learn from your mistakes without being burned too badly to reflect.
If I don't love it, I don't do it
Whats the point of doing something if you're not excited about it? Throughout the course of entrepreneurship, you'll be excited by many 'money making' ideas. Not all these ideas are meant to be executed. In fact, most of them are trash. Some of these ideas will be from you, and most will be from others. Treat your (and others) ideas like dating. Don't put your attention on the person(s) you just 'like'. We don't marry people we 'like'. We marry people we 'love'.
The idea that you love is the one worth refining, scrutinizing and improving is the ones worth your effort.
I see too many people jump at shiny ideas. And immediately making the assumption that it's 'shininess' will drive huge profits. This is total bullshit. This is why most entrepreneurs crash, simply because of impulsive decision making. From partnering with people who sound good on paper, to marketing ideas, all the way down to product execution.
Loving something has less to do with emotion, but more to do with careful and deliberate care of an idea. Handle your ideas with total care and precision because that's how you treat someone you love.
Every business book out there will tell you to delegate and create a staff. I've done everything on my own for the last 5 years with no staff. I'm the Janitor, the sales staff, the IT guy, the social media rep, the trainer, the head instructor, manager, operator and owner.
That's not because I don't trust people, or have the budget to hire people, but like I said, I gave myself 6 years to grow. In other words, I gave myself 6 years of practice to know my craft, and process inside out. I went to very extreme lengths to know the ins and outs of my craft and gave myself 6 years of refinery so my 7th year will be like 2015 Steph Curry.
I work every day. I've never been late, I'm always early for my class, and I teach and train every single minute and every single second. I'm intense, passionate and picky every single class for the last 5 years. My students may not always like it, but they show up every day and they know I'm there 100%. I set my own standard for myself and I hit it every day, which ends up setting a standard for class everyday fir every single person that walks in.
When we delegate too early, we fall out of touch with our business. You can't control and provide the right experiences to your people. And once a business loses an ability to provide a consistent experience...well that is when their business fractures because they lose their identity. If there is no identity, then there is no reason for the following to follow.
'How' > 'how much'
I often express this as 'do it out of inspiration, not desperation'. What that basically means, is that how I make my money, is what drives the amount of money I make. Let's be real--there are a billion different ways to make a billion dollars. Now, that process of making money can either be fun, or volatile. You could sell drugs if you wanted, if all you cared about was making money and didn't care about the ethic of the situation, or you could go the other way: 1) Decide what you love to do, 2) love the process about doing it and 3) make it. In any case, my joy doesn't come from seeing my bank account balance. It's the process in which I took to get that balance to what it is. Now, that doesn't mean I don't care about money; we need money to survive of course. I'm just saying, that money to me is like a scorecard--If I adopt the right habits, execute the right ideas at the right time, the end result will be a positive balance, not a negative one.
Once you have an idea, don't stop there. Identify your method and your style of execution. That's when the process of you business becomes fun.
Just three basic tenets in life and business and it's taken me quite far. But trust, I'm just getting started. In 2016, we add to this pillar because something wicked this way comes.