Life. Simplified. column: It’s not easy starting your own business but oh-so rewarding
I’m an entrepreneur — for good.
Gary Vaynerchuk could probably persuade you that anyone can become an internet millionaire. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t know. Professional gurus like Gary “Vee,” Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, Harvey MacKay, Seth Godin and Tony Robbins — they’re doing business on a whole other level. I’m convinced that kind of entrepreneurial mastery develops after decades of practice and requires diligent focus, commitment to becoming a scholar of the industry, an innovative edge, and a ruthless pursuit of outlandish achievement.
Whether or not I’m able to achieve brand-recognition beyond my own hometown, I will say this: After my last job as someone else’s employee, I made a choice to become my own boss. I had no idea what that meant or how to do it. But come hell or high water, I was going to crack that nut, find my way, and learn to make a living doing what I love — on my own terms.
After five years in business, I’m starting to see promising traction. But it hasn’t always been pretty. In the first six months of being self-employed, I depleted thousands in savings just paying my bills. I stretched every dollar and stressed every expense. I read a ton of books and watched thousands of instructional videos. I made huge mistakes and horrific assumptions. A million times I guessed incorrectly and made colossal, uninformed choices that resulted in tangible setbacks.
At the beginning, I was a mess, and my professional practice consisted of me waking up every day, desperately trying to find solid ground — going to bed long after midnight, panicked that I’d utterly wasted the day. The truth is, after more than a little flailing, I caught a break. A friend and mentor heard I was starting something on my own and took me to lunch. She said, “Evan, I like you. You seem like a good guy. But if you’re going to do this — don’t mess around. Take yourself seriously and learn from the best in the business. Pay your dues. Take your time. Commit to something bigger than yourself — and you’ll find your way.” That conversation changed everything.
The past five years has been a series of optimistic baby steps combined with a handful of precarious investments in my own professional development. Every time I made some money, I’d sock a little away. At the end of each year, I’d hope to have enough to reinvest into my continuing education — and hopefully learn something to take me over the next hump. I’ve become a student of my industry, and while I’m entire galaxies from mastery, I’m grateful just to be in the game.
This is the first year I haven’t had to hustle. People are miraculously finding me — and for the first time since starting my own company, it’s made me a little complacent. To be completely transparent, I’m on the verge of trying something new — shifting my practice to something bigger. Standing right on the edge of launching a new division makes me a little nauseous. But I know it’s time. I know there will be mistakes to learn from, snake pits to crawl out of, and strategic recalibrating in order to find solid ground on the other side. But I’m ready and I’m doing this on my own terms.
Life is insanely good, and I’m grateful every day. I make my own hours. I work with who I want. I choose the projects that interest me. I control my professional development, my marketing budget, 100 percent of my curriculum, and where I’m going with my career. I’m paying my bills, reinvesting in my brand, and helping to make a real difference in a way I never thought possible. Most importantly, I’m now part of a movement that helps good people understand we don’t live to work, eat, sleep and shop. There’s so much more to life than that — and for me, there’s no going back.
Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of http://www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com. For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.
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