If you dream of starting your own business, there are plenty of resources. Coaches, books and websites detail specific steps you should take or rules you should follow. But to be successful, you have to break the rules. You must be unapologetic about who you are and dare to be different. Here’s my advice for anyone ready to do that.
1. Realize there’s nothing special about successful people.
It’s common to separate yourself from those who are successful. You think, “She’s confident,” or “He knows how to speak publicly. I’m not like that.” But you’re wrong.
Everyone feels that way. I still wake up with those fearful voices in my head; I just don’t listen to them anymore. Most people who meet me are often surprised by how shy I am. I’m an introvert, and it takes effort to put myself out there. If I can do it, so can you.
Many entrepreneurs struggle to get started because their message isn’t clear. You might think you don’t know what you’re meant to put out in the world — but you do.
The megaphone exercise helps you clarify your mission. Imagine you are standing on a balcony above thousands of people. You’re holding a megaphone and have one minute to tell them what life is about. What would you say? Whatever comes out in that minute is your message.
3. Don’t wait for permission.
Your inner voice may make you doubt your message with thoughts like “That idea isn’t big enough,” “No one will listen to me,” or “Someone else already does that.” But no one does or says it like you — so do it anyway.
Our whole lives, we’ve been taught to wait for permission or approval. The reality is you’re allowed to share your message with the world. You just have to give yourself permission.
No one is going to knock on your door and tell you they need you or your ideas. You need to start somewhere, even if you don’t feel ready. Let go of whatever is holding you back. Get out of your own way.
4. Seize your responsibility.
How do you start when you don’t feel ready? Realize that your message and calling is bigger than you. If you have something that can help people right now, you have a responsibility to take that message to the world.
You also have a responsibility to yourself. If you were your own employee, would you fire yourself? This is your job. Just like anyone else, if you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid.
5. Ignore strategy and identify your non-negotiables.
To make it real, you need to act. What you don’t need is strategy. If you sit around planning, you’re unlikely to start. The path will become clear once you take the leap, and it won’t look like anything you could have planned.
Identify a small list of non-negotiables that will move the needle daily. Ask yourself what three to five things would change your life if you did them every day. Then do them.
Here are the four things on my list that I do every day before anything else: First, I connect with myself by journaling. Don’t start the day reacting to everyone else; set your internal compass by writing down your vision.
Next, I create content. Then it’s sales activity, even if it’s just a call to action at the end of a blog post. If you aren’t selling, you aren’t an entrepreneur. Last is fitness, which isn’t negotiable for anyone who wants to live an extraordinary life.
6. Create personal content.
You need to be in a conversation with your audience daily to stand out. Business is about relationships, not complex sales funnels. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling houses, mascara or software: You’re not selling a product or service — you’re selling you. We’re more likely to buy from someone when we resonate with them.
Share your message with the world, even if it’s just a Facebook post. When you constantly show others who you are, you just have to mention at the end, “By the way, here’s how I can help you. Buy my stuff if you want.” When people are already sold on you, it’s effortless.
7. Pretend you’re at dinner with friends.
You may tell yourself you don’t know how to write or sell, but you do. The problem is that you’ve been taught that there are right and wrong ways to do things. But you’re your most compelling when you’re not focused on rules.
Think about having dinner with people you can really be yourself around. Imagine that you’re feeling relaxed and are telling a good story. It just spills out naturally, doesn’t it?
That’s all you need to do. The best writing comes from the soul. Following the script is how you kill your business — and your soul.
8. Say in public what others say behind closed doors.
To stand out, you have to say in public what others only say in private. I’m talking about the stuff you say at home when you’re venting.
When I started as a personal trainer, I diligently taught the nutrition and training plans I’d studied. But then I realized that behind the staff room door, we ate and trained differently because we knew what actually worked. I decided to teach what I was truly doing because that’s what people wanted to know.
Business is easier when you say what you think and show people who you are. You’ll make some people mad, but that’s OK. The right people will work with you because you say what they’re thinking.
9. Ask three questions when it gets tough.
It takes time to build a business, and a lot of people give up because it’s hard. You’re going to walk through fire, so you have to build resilience. If you’re not willing to do that, why should you get the life that only 0.01 percent of us even dream of?
When the going gets tough, ask yourself three questions: Do you believe you’re going to make it and that you’re doing what you’re meant to do? If you can’t say yes to that, quit now. Second, can you get through the day? The answer should always be yes. You just have to learn to handle fear. Finally, ask yourself what you need to do today. What would you be doing if you were swinging the bat as hard as you could? It’s a terrible feeling to put your head on the pillow knowing you failed to follow through.
My rule is I don’t go to bed until I’ve done what I’m meant to do for the day. If you dare to make your own rules, you can do anything.