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Spinning plates while listening to smart older people

Creative Commons License photo credit: Don Fulano

Now is the time to start a new business.

Didn’t I just say that a few days ago? Yeah, I did. And no one managed to step up and tell me I was a lunatic:)

“Why is now a good time?”, you say. I say “Why isn’t now a good time?”

Businesses are stressed. They’re thinking survival. Meanwhile, you’re thinking about new ideas, growth, taking over a market, game-changing stuff.

Guess which one is a better thought process…

If you’ve decided to start something, here are a few thoughts to keep you moving in the right direction:

Stay organized

  • Piles are great for dirty laundry, but not for paperwork.
  • Piles are a great place to lose a check that you really needed to deposit last month, or an invoice that you needed to pay 3 months ago.
  • Piles are just a bad idea.

Get good advice

  • No one is born, grabs the phone and closes a big sale from the delivery room.
  • Salesmanship and a LOT of other things are learned, not transferred via breast milk.
  • When you’re the boss, the safety net is you and your circle of advisors (ie: build one).
  • Take responsibility for learning something every day. Read. Take a class. Read more. Surround yourself with smart people, especially if you can find people who are smarter than you.
  • Note: If there isn’t anyone smarter than you, you’re either alone or misguided. Forget all that other advice and go get a job.

Listen and learn

  • Who is the sharpest knife in your industry’s drawer? Get to know them. Do something to help them. Absorb everything they say, do, think.
  • Who is the thought leader in your business? Who picks up on things before anyone else? Spend as much time as you can *listening* to them and observing them and their business.
  • Ask smart, successful people (and dumb successful people too) about the lessons that were the most important. If they’ll let you, buy them lunch, Ruth’s Chris or whatever gets them interested and let them talk. Listen. Listen. Listen.
  • Surround yourself with smart, successful people, like Jim Rohn says. Return the favor when you’re asked to be one of those smart people.

Expect failure

  • Failure is an event. Not a person.
  • Learn about failure the inexpensive way. Study other people’s failures.
  • Learn from older people who are smart as crap. They were young and stupid once too. That’s when they made the mistakes that made them older and smart as crap.
  • You’ll make mistakes. Something will fail. Don’t give up or I’ll call you a wuss.

Expect chaos

  • Be prepared for growth. Position yourself to deal with, hypothetically, 2 or 3 times the business you have now. Tomorrow.
  • What would you change if your business tripled next week.
  • All that preparation might make it easier to outgrow all those cool things you organized. Get over it.
  • Expect to feel like one of those Chinese plate spinners who has 20 plates on 20 sticks and is spinning them all at the same time without dropping a single one.
  • Expect to encounter times when spinning 20 plates would feel relaxing.

A few years from now when you have grumbling on the staff, tell them about the plates you used to spin.

It’ll go over about like that “walked to school uphill both ways through the snow” story that you tell your kids (or that your parents told you), but it’ll be true:)

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