Today is the seven-year anniversary of when I started my first company. In the next year we’ll see if you can get a 7-year itch from work as well as marriage, but so far so good.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last seven years.
1. Don’t undersell yourself.
If someone tries to beat you down on price, don’t let them. You’ve thought long and hard about your price and made sure that your hourly rate is fair for your experience and skills. That’s why you won’t sell your time for anything less.
Letting a customer beat you down is not a good start to a professional relationship and means they don’t value your skills. When I was younger I would reduce my price when asked and without fail, those customers would make me miserable.
I have sometimes said to a customer that I’ll keep the hours down by cutting a few corners if they really want the bare minimum or are testing out a prototype etc. Cut your hours, not your hourly rate.
2. Don’t believe everything you hear.
There’s a lot of nonsense going around in the business world. Everyone has an opinion on how you should be doing things/selling things/marketing things.
Consultants are ten a penny and many of them are failed entrepreneurs themselves, so why listen?
That’s not to say you shouldn’t hear opposing viewpoints but just incorporate or ignore them once you’ve thought about them in relation to your own business. There’s no one-method-fits-all to make you rich. I wish there was.
3. Be yourself.
It’s a cliche but it’s true. I tried for a few years of my entrepreneurship to seem like I had it all together. I wanted to compete in Finland and thought that I had to have a Finnish face on the company in order to do that.
One of my Business in Finland participants is so worried that she can’t work here because of the colour of her skin. I’m not sure whether that’s a valid fear or not. I hope not.
I am trying to help her turn it into a positive thing. People seem to remember me, which is a good thing for business. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing.
When I made the company more like myself, I got more work. I felt better about my work and I got to be myself. Much easier and more fun!