Four Life-Changing Lessons from “The Reluctant Entrepreneur”
This week, we talked about the importance of reading for writers … Reading is essential for relaxing, recharging, and enhancing creativity. While I usually recommend fiction books for down time, Michael Masterson's new book, The Reluctant Entrepreneur, fits nicely into the inspirational category as well as the business book category.
It's full of inspirational stories and ideas that have already made a difference in my life. But it's also full of business lessons and wisdom that Masterson had to learn the hard way.
Here are just four of the hundreds of lessons I learned:
1. Start with something really important every day.
"Doing an important task right off the bat gives me an immediate sense of accomplishment that fills me with energy that fuels my work for the rest of the day," said Masterson.
I couldn't agree more! Days when I get up early and do my most important task first are the most productive days I have. And those are the days I go to bed feeling like I am on track to meet my goals.
On the other hand, days when I start by checking email are often the most hectic days. Once I open my email inbox, I spend the day replying to emails and doing tasks that others dictate.
To make the most out of this tip, set your goals, and determine what daily tasks you need to do to achieve these goals. Each day, before ending work, decide what your most important task the next day will be. Then when you wake up, you know exactly what to do.
2. Resist the urge to try something completely different.
You've probably heard people say, "Don't reinvent the wheel." But I've found this is really difficult advice to follow. There's just something appealing about doing it your own way.
However, I've learned it’s better and faster to buckle down and follow the advice of more successful people.
No matter what your goals are, someone has been there before you. Whether you're building a copywriting business or writing a romantic novel, someone else has been successful. Find out what they did and how they did it. Replicate their successes and learn from their mistakes. Don't make it harder than it has to be.
If you're trying to create your own niche or make a product no one has heard of, ask yourself if there might be a reason … Maybe someone else has thought of the idea and determined it wasn’t profitable. Just in case, do your research and tread carefully.
3. Don't buy things you don't need.
One of the best things about the writer's life is you can do it with just an Internet connection and a computer. But a lot of us spend money and time getting everything we could ever need.
We think we need a printer, a fancy chair, and a nice office setup, maybe even an office outside of our home. We spend a lot preparing only to realize we've spent all our money and now have to scramble to get projects or find a part-time job.
Instead, get only the essentials, and then get the projects. Once you have work coming in, invest a portion of your profit into improving your business.
By keeping your costs low, you'll give yourself a better chance to succeed. You won't be as worried about making money immediately, so you'll be able to relax and make better decisions.
You will be able to wait for good clients rather than taking on low-paying ones just to put food on the table. And because you won't desperately need every client, you'll be able to negotiate your fees more professionally.
4. Get started.
Masterson said, "A well-known business coach once told me, 'Fear is a major obstacle for would-be entrepreneurs. They will use any excuse to avoid taking action.'"
These would-be entrepreneurs will often "take action" in the form of learning something else or planning. They don't take any real action. They do nothing to put their idea into the world. Instead, they say, "I'll start next month," or "I need to learn how to do X first."
Masterson points out that "a healthy dose of fear is a good thing. It makes you cautious." He says fear will protect you from making stupid mistakes, but don't let fear keep you from taking action.
"You need to do only two things: Work harder than all those who are competing with you and imitate the actions of successful people you admire," Masterson says. "If you do that long enough you will have the success you yearn for. And as a bonus, you will have acquired courage and confidence too."
These four lessons have already helped me do better work and run my business more effectively. But there are so many other lessons in The Reluctant Entrepreneur that I know I'll read it many more times.
What about you? Comment below if you've read it. If so, what were your favorite lessons? If you haven't read it, do you have another favorite lesson from Michael Masterson? We'd love to hear from you …
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