According to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, approximately 540,000 people became entrepreneurs each month in 2016. The 2017 data is yet to be seen, however, if our LinkedIn feed is any indication, entrepreneurship remains a popular goal among working people of all stripes. While some ponder a side business on top of their 9-to-5, others envision one day leaving the corporate grind altogether to run a successful business full-time.
No matter what category you fall into, you are probably wondering how to take that step into the startup world, especially if you intend to hold on to your full-time work and travel schedule at the same time. To help answer this question, we sat down with seasoned entrepreneur Melissa McSherry, owner of Better than Before, a leadership and business development coaching business focused on women.
Before starting Better than Before, Melissa gained her entrepreneurial chops through a variety of business ventures. First, she left her job as a personal fitness trainer at one of Chicago’s leading gym chains to start her own in-home private personal training business. Soon after her son was born, the burgeoning world of networking marketing called to her and she channeled her fitness expertise into a successful Beachbody coaching business. It was during this time that she became keenly interested in personal development.
“I heard Darren Hardy speak at a Beach Body Summit and I was completely enthralled,” says Melissa. “The more personal development I did, the more interested I became in leadership. As time went on, I saw a need for women to have a safe place to talk about their businesses and take actionable steps toward their goals. While fitness is a passion of mine, I found another avenue to empower and motivate people.”
Melissa launched Better than Before in January 2017, and since then business has been booming. Her clientele has grown from primarily network marketers to include CFOs, CEOs, and women in IT. So how did she do it, and how can you do it too? Melissa outlines five basic yet strategic steps toward achieving your startup dreams.
Get Clear on What You Want
Before becoming an entrepreneur, have a very clear idea of what you really want. “Ask yourself how you mentally and emotionally connect with your business idea,” suggests Melissa. (Hint: Simply wanting to be your own boss won’t cut it!) Do you want to help others achieve some sort of goal or desire? Do you one day want to take in a passive income while you sit on the beach? Be very honest about the answers to your why, but make sure they come from the heart. Being an entrepreneur is hard work. Having a clear objective will keep you motivated and focused on the next steps.
Focus On One Thing at a Time
Of course, as a professional, you are very familiar with the many aspects of keeping a business up and running – administration, legal, marketing, etc. To start, don’t focus on all of these things at once, or you’ll become overwhelmed and quit before you even start. By focusing your attention and energy upon one step at a time, your anxiety will decrease and, most importantly, you’ll stay on task. “The Compound Effect, which I’ve read multiple times, says that in order to achieve change you have to recognize what you are doing first,” says Melissa. “Break up your big goal into smaller goals and tasks, and start with the first one. It is accomplishing little chronological steps that will keep you focused and headed in the right direction.”
Be Realistic About Your Time
Committing adequate time to your startup will help maintain a consistent cadence toward growth. However, the unavoidable truth is that time is finite. It is important to be honest about your time constraints and avoid the burnout credo that permeates a lot of entrepreneurial language these days. “The word ‘hustle’ negates everything,” says Melissa. “If you want to hate everyone and everything, then hustle all you want. However, you don’t have to be superhuman to become a successful entrepreneur. In the very beginning, even a consistent 20 or 30 minutes per day will help you achieve your startup goals.”
Take a realistic inventory of your schedule and, yes, accept that you will have to make a few sacrifices. Wake up a half hour earlier, or give up your favorite TV show for a while. Once you’ve set aside the time, determine one action step for each day, and schedule your whole day around that step. When you accomplish that step, you will gain more confidence, energy, and time for your other commitments.
Shift Your Perception of Fitness
If you go long and hard every workout, your entrepreneurial journey many force you to change your approach to fitness. “We fitness-oriented individuals tend to be very routine, and we often have this ‘all or nothing’ mindset,” says Melissa. “But our overall self-care doesn’t have to be an hour and a half run. There are other aspects of self-care that are just as important.” Melissa’s wakes up at 5:15 AM and does a quiet meditation to set her intention for the day followed by a 30-minute boot camp to maintain her physical strength and endurance. If your workout routine is truly non-negotiable, again, consider where you can truly spare some time by waking up 30 minutes earlier or cutting out a less valuable activity.
Be Confident In Your Decision
This really comes back to getting clear on what you want, because you will run into a few roadblocks and stress on the way to building your own business. Your relationships may change. Your finances may change. And yes, there will be people in your life who do not fully support your goal. Melissa offers this important advice when times get tough: “Ask yourself ‘What do I know in this moment to be true?’ Take time to be introspective and realistic about what is happening both internally and externally.” Remain focused, be consistent, and always remember why you wanted to become an entrepreneur in the first place.