Thursday, May 22, 2008

20 Tips for the New Entrepreneur


Dear Readers,

Last summer, as I was all 'gang busters' starting my own company, many friends and acquaintances were asking me how I kept focused at my desk and not focused on the beautiful weather outside. The thing about entrepreneurs is that they are determined people - people who have an idea and do whatever they can to develop it. Nevertheless, it's easy to come undone and unfocused. So I began sharing my ideas in the form of a list to help keep my network on target with their goals: Auntie Melanie Notkin’s 20 Secret Weapons for Entrepreneurs to Stay Motivated, Inspired and On Course.

I have used these tools throughout my career.
Some are timeless tips, and some came about with new technology. Some are original thoughts and some are borrowed from others. For the latter, I’ll let you decide which ones are which because frankly, they have become such a part of my life, I really don’t remember where they came from anymore!

1. Every night before you go to sleep, write down your To-Do list for the next day. I recommend adding www.netvibes.com as your personalized internet homepage. Not only can you manage your to-do lists, but you can get all your daily news and blog reading done in one place. (see item #7)

2. Do the most challenging items on your To-Do list before 11AM, if possible. Accomplishing the most difficult items on the list empowers you for the rest of the day. Holding on to that difficult action item might exhaust you and you’ll get nothing done! Reward yourself for getting through the hardest action item each day. (see item #3)

3. Getting stuck at your desk is not healthy! You need air! Go out and treat yourself to a $10 reward every day. It can be a manicure, grandé latte with whip, a paperback novel, etc., but get out of the office!

4. Take a long walk. Taking a walk has proven to be a time to gather thoughts and think most creatively. But bring your business notebook with you – you don’t want to forget your next big idea! (see item # 15)

5. Have lunch! And not alone! Circle yourself with a strong network and meet with different members of your network at least 2-3 times a week. And try to add at least 3 people to your network monthly. A good way to add to and keep track of your network is through LinkedIn. You’ll connect with people who know people who know people... Facebook is more than a great social network. You may find an old college classmate who is working in the same industry you want to go into, or become better acquainted with new people in your network. On Facebook, I found an old friend who is all-knowing when it comes to Internet Privacy and he became a member of my Advisory Board. And finally, there is Twitter, where you’ll find a community of like-minded people who can give you the support and resources you need.

6. Say “Thank You.” Keep an appreciation book at your desk and after you complete your To-Do list at night, write down everything you are thankful for that day. Once a week, go back over your entries. You’ll have A LOT to be grateful for. What a nice way to go to sleep!

7. Read. Some of my favorite and inspiring business writers include: Seth Godin, Al Ries, Paco Underhill, Guy Kawasaki, David Meerman Scott, Andy Sernovitz, Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff, David Vinjamuri, Ken Blanchard, Philip Kotler, Harry Beckwith, Malcom Gladwell and Stephen Covey, among others. Even if you don’t read all their books, some of these experts have blogs you can subscribe to for daily inspiration. Also, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Business Week, New York Times/SmallBusiness and WSJ are all good for inspiration. Some online publications have daily inspiration emails you can receive in the AM to help get your day started. There are also plenty of blogs about entrepreneurship (aside from this one). You can find some of the best ones at Alltop.com.

8. Look around and think about how every great marketing idea might apply to you. For example, look at Point-Of-Purchase promotions as a marketer, not a consumer. Think about what attracts you to a book cover or a product at a retailer. Read your direct mail! Stop that DVR and watch commercials! Click on banner ads! It’s a free marketing education.

9. Keep an Inspiration binder or bulletin board. Read a great article? See an image you like? Find a color palette that you are attracted to? Print or swipe it and add it to your collection.

10. Ask God or the Universe (or whatever you believe in) for what you want. Ok Ok, it sounds hokey, but believe me, you get what you want. Always.

11. If someone does something nice for you, ask them how you can help them – even if it sounds silly to you. If you meet a CEO who says she can help you, it may feel weird to ask how you can help her, but CEOs and other powerful people are people too, and more than anything, people want to feel appreciated. Offering to help is a better way to say thank you than sending a Thank You note. But do that too ;-) And thank them with something that communicates your brand. I sent a children’s book to a CEO for his twin daughters, and signed the note, Auntie Melanie Approved! Trust me, it’ll be a lot easier to ask for help the next time you need it!

12. Get business cards! Ok, you may not have a business yet, but you are still the President of your career. So get temporary business cards that say who you are, even if you’re not there yet. Before I had my branding, I got business cards that read: Auntie Melanie Notkin. Trust me, it will get people asking about your business, and eventually, it will be a reality. You can even get 250 free business cards at Vistaprint to start.

13. Write down your talents. Don’t be modest. Think about the most challenging accomplishments in your career. How did you succeed? Write down all those steps and you’ll realize you know more than you realized! And every day, write one of your talents on a virtual sticky Webnote on your Netvibes homepage!

14. Talk to people who inspire you. Don’t talk to people who don’t.

15. Keep a notebook just for your business notes. Read it once a week. It will be inspiring to see how far you go week by week.

16. Listen to music. Find artists who inspire you to believe in yourself. What music inspires you?

17. Read stories about entrepreneurs. For women, Beth Schoenfeldt and Victoria Colligan’s: Ladies Who Launch is great. Accidental Branding - How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands by David Vinjamuri is also inspiring. And don’t forget, people like Howard Schultz (Starbucks) was an entrepreneur at one point too. Everybody starts somewhere.

18. Talk to other entrepreneurs and help them in any way you can. Offer to write an article for their Website, promote their products to your friends, send them encouraging emails, etc. Karma is a Boomerang.

19. Ask for help. Even from a perfect stranger. Believe it or not, people love to help. And you need all the help you can get.

20. Inspire others! That Karma/Boomerang thing again... You can start by forwarding this blog post to a friend who might benefit from it.

I hope at least some of these tips have helped. Please feel free to add your tips below in the Comments section. I would love to hear about the things that keep YOU motivated, inspired and on course - as would the rest of my Dear Readers. Thank you!

XOXO,
Auntie Melanie



53 comments:

  1. Great post!
    I'm trying to keep myself in that mindset. I waver from time to time but I'm determined to make it work!

    I'll definitely be printing this out to keep as a reminder!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this. #14 is my fav. It took me a while to learn this one, but when I did it changed my whole life.

    I would add: When making a decision, think about whether you've made your choice out of fear. Then decide whether it's worth it. This applies to everything from choosing business partners or working late on a Friday night.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now THIS is a fantastic post!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is a great post! I feel inspired already. Thanks for sharing your tips and success stories. I also like to do one thing for myself each day, that way I don't feel overwhelmed. It could be something as simple as enjoying the sun or doing a few yoga stretches.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a great post about not only being an awesome entrepreneur, but also for living an awesome life! Really well done!!! You are such an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Melanie - I was so excited to see that you wrote this post and then even more excited to see that I actually already do some of the things that you suggest! As we've been getting to know one another, you already know that #18 is one of my most sacred rules to live by, and not just from a business perspective. Doing good things for other people is just the best way to live your life - the good things that come back are just a bonus.

    Thanks again for such an inspiring post, I'm going to start working on those tasks that I haven't done yet.........

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Auntie-

    Nice post. My fave is #20. The absolute best thing you can do for others in your life (complete stangers) is show them what's possible in life. Keep up the good work.

    PS
    I liked your list so much I linked to it on my blog to help spread the word.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so happy that this post is appreciated and being shared! Thank you all!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Auntrepreneur... love it!

    Great list, I will share it on my blog, as well.

    Best of fortune on your business travels!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love to say to myself "The best reward is success" and try to give myself the feeling of success each and every day.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is a great list! I sent it on to my employees because I think it can apply to everyone! Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post! I'm going to forward this to my office mate who is a new entrepreneur as well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I dig it. Nice post, I love the demographic you are going for w/ Savvy Auntie!

    Find other biz tips for entrepreneurs at my blog http://ryanagraves.com/blog/

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I LOVE your list -- thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Melanie - I loved this list when we were in LWL incubator together - and this has been my favorite tip. I *try* to do it whenever I'm dreading a particular task.

    "Do the most challenging items on your To-Do list before 11AM"

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great article! Thanks for sharing it. I think I will pass it on to my readers at living a LuSHHus life. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great post!

    21. Hire a virtual assistant from www.BPOVIA.com, who can help you offload complicated, labor oriented or non-core components of your business processes, so you can focus on your core business and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Good post dear,

    If you need virtual assistant hire true professionals. Visit http://www.dedicatedvirtualassistant.com for complete assistance.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I recently came across your post and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that it caught my interest and you've provided informative points. I will visit this blog often.

    Thank you,

    Small Business Loans

    ReplyDelete
  20. Awesome! Some really helpful information in there. Bookmarked. Excellent source.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm definitely bookmarking this post and recommend it to people I know. These are extremely helpful and could help people achieve a balanced and healthy life. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Definitely a good list for would-be entrepreneurs and business people. Do you have a list for businesses that are exclusively online?

    ReplyDelete
  23. It’s good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.eat! You make it so simple to this.Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  24. good post. I want to add 2 must know tips for the new entrepreneur: 1) NEVER GIVE UP (build a tough core) and 2) FIND YOUR VOICE (as in be different in your niche)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Excellent love, I have read some of your posts! I love them! Keep posting...

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow. You really know a lot about business loans. Thanks for providing us with these pieces of information. It could really help people like me who want to start a new business...
    Small Business Loans

    ReplyDelete
  27. This has been so enlightening. I´ve discovered your website today and i´m enjoying it so much. It is full of smart advices!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I like your play one words with Auntrepreneur; very clever! This is the first time I've been to your blog and since I'm an Entrepreneur myself I will more than likely be back soon!

    ReplyDelete
  29. As an entrepreneur of many years I can say that this list is great. And I agree that "Auntrepreneur" is a great label to have!

    Maggie
    Reverse Phone Lookup Canada

    ReplyDelete
  30. Being an Entrepreneur isn't a easy job and one has to take lots of risk and stepping steps for growth. This is just an amazing post with all the points you elaborated, felt nice and good about being an Entrepreneur.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am very thankful to you for posting such stuff.This really help me lot.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You can start by forwarding this blog post to a friend who might benefit from it.

    ReplyDelete
  33. confidence, courage, and skill. I think three was enough to provide great benefits in being an entrepreneur.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Your blog is really helps for my search and i really like it. Thanks a lot. Paper Writing Service

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love this type of educational blog very much.Nice effort. Keep it on with this type of post. Cheap Essays

    ReplyDelete
  36. I suggest this site to my friends so it could be useful & informative for them also Great effort. Cheap Essays

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am looking forward to reading more useful information from your blog. I can’t wait for to read your more new article. Must be very attractive. Debt Collector

    ReplyDelete
  38. Information on the fit is excellent enough to improve my information. Debt Collection

    ReplyDelete
  39. I suggest this site to my friends so it could be useful & informative for them also Great effort. Custom Essays

    ReplyDelete
  40. I really admire the talent of the author. He is a genius. It is truly magnificent. I am delighted with this post. Debt Collection
    Personal Debt Collection
    Corporate Debt Collection

    ReplyDelete
  41. I loved it really amazing thanks for the share.
    Hyp :cheap essays

    ReplyDelete
  42. very interesting blog, thanks for sharing.
    Custom Essays

    ReplyDelete
  43. custom essays
    I loved the way you discuss the topic great work thanks for the share.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Cheap Essays
    Wow Amazing post really informative thanks for the great post.

    ReplyDelete