Last week I realized that it had been three years exactly since I left my job.
It’s terrifying how quickly these three years have gone by, but at the same time I’ve crammed a lot of cool stuff into these three years.
The short list including:
- Spent a Week Touring Through Jordan
- Hung out in Krabi, Thailand for a Month
- Lived in Bali for 2 Months
- Cruised Around on a Million Dollar Yacht in the Philippines
- Spent a Month Jetting Around the US
- Ran a Marathon
- Built Location Rebel
- Went Mountain Biking in Rural China
- Smoked Cigars in Cuba
- Spent a Week in a Mayan Compound with Close Friends
- Speaking at TEDx Carnegie Melon
This post was originally going to be titled “10 Coolest Experiences I’ve Had Since Leaving My Job”.
Then I got an email from a reader who unsubscribed and said he felt the site was too much about me, and not enough about the goals of my readers.
While this site is about me, my life, my business and my journey, the goal is to still make it a valuable tool for others looking to build a business. I’ll devote a few posts at the end of the year to my personal progress, but after thinking more about it, I realized aside from maybe serving as a bit of motivation to go do something cool, the only thing that post would have been really serving was my ego.
Let’s be real, I still included that list above, part of that was patting myself on the back.
But ok, enough of that.
I wanted to rewrite the post in a way that might actually give you something to think about.
So instead of bragging about where I’ve been and what I’ve done, instead I wanted to share with you the top 10 things I’ve learned about entrepreneurship since leaving my job.
In my experience if even one of these 10 things resonates with you, it will be worth the 2 minutes you spent to read the post!
1) Nothing Will Ever Go Fully According to Plan
Sometimes the detour from the plan will be so vast you’ll wonder how you’ve gotten to that point and if it’s possible for things to get any worse. Other times things will go even better than you could have imagined.
Either way, it will all work out. When I relaunched Location Rebel last September you wouldn’t believe how many things broke. I had to hop a flight to Asia and none of the forums we’d spent over 6 weeks cultivating worked. The affiliate system didn’t work. Every time I fixed one of those two things, the other would get even worse.
Bottom line, it’s all just a distant memory.
In thinking of every single thing I’ve ever stressed and freaked out over, it’s all just a memory. At this point, in this moment, I’m totally fine.
No matter how far off plan things go, everything will be fine.
2) There’s Always Another Way
Something not working? Not happy with the way your life is going? Can’t figure out how to get that golf ball over the tree?
There’s always another way.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in entrepreneurship is that if you’re beating yourself up over something not working, take a step back and think about it in a different way.
Are your strategies for getting traffic not yielding results? Not sure why your sales page isn’t converting? Can’t figure out why no one retweets your Twitter posts?
Do something else, there’s always another way to achieve the same goal.
3) An Unending Sense of Urgency Is Necessary to Succeed
As soon as you set yourself to cruise control you’re screwed.
So many people are after the elusive dream of passive income.
What you may not realize is once you get there, the work just gets that much harder.
I know people who have built incredible passive income streams – easily making five figures per month.
Then you know what happened? The got complacent. The sense of urgency was gone. Customer service went to hell, product updates were non-existent, and the follow up product? Nowhere to be seen.
It’s easy to say hey “I’ve got passive income! Wooohooo! Time to retire.”
The reality however is that so much can change over night.
Most people do their best work when their back is against the wall. If you’re anything like me, you did way more studying the night before a big test than any other time. It’s because you had to. There was no more time to procrastinate.
It can be easy to settle in and get comfortable as soon as you’re making enough to live on.
Don’t let that happen. Continue to build, create, and innovate all while living that “retirement lifestyle”.
4) It Doesn’t Matter How Hard You Work
We’ve all heard the old adage you have to “work smarter, not harder”.
Well it’s completely true.
No matter what you’ll be able to find work to fill your time. You could easily spend 12 hours a day working on all sorts of stuff in your business. But if it’s the wrong stuff, all you’re doing is wasting time.
To be honest, my most productive and fulfilling days are usually the ones where I spend less than 4 hours at my computer. If I spend over 6 either I’m leading up to a big project or I’m doing something wrong.
I’ll find stuff to keep myself occupied for as long as I’m sitting at a computer, that’s why it’s so important to get away from the computer as often as possible.
Each day make your to do list. Then go back and look at each item and ask yourself “is this adding to the bottom line of my business?” If not, then consider if it’s really an essential task for the day.
You should always know why you’re working on something. As soon as you’re doing work for works sake, you not only will be hurting your business, but that’s when self-doubt and unhappiness set in as well.
5) You’re Always Selling Something
An idea, a concept, a product, you, your services – you’re always trying to persuade people to think a certain way about something. Maybe it’s as simple as getting them to like you or something as extreme as selling them a high priced product, but you as soon as you become aware of this reality, you can use it to your advantage.
I’m not talking about turning into a sleazy salesperson with everything you do – rather, educating yourself on principles of psychology, copywriting, and becoming more deliberate with your actions.
Learn how to communicate effectively through as many mediums as possible. The world is changing and you can use each of those channels to help build your business and brand.
6) You Have to Have a “Why”
Why become an entrepreneur? Why take the risk? Why go through the stress and hardship of building a business?
If you don’t have a why you shouldn’t be doing it. I talk to a lot of people who can’t answer that question. They don’t like their job, and this seems like the next best thing. Those people should be getting a different job, not creating one for theselves.
For me the why is two fold:
- Give myself the ability to do all the cool stuff I’ve always wanted
- Help others achieve the same thing by helping them build small businesses
7) A Solid Community is More Important Than You Think
Back when I had my day job, I used to talk to my best friend Ryan every day during my lunch break. At the time he was living on Maui and I was wearing a suit and tie.
The support I received from him, as well as the quickly growing Location 180 community gave me all the motivation I needed to start making some major changes to my life.
Without that support I’m not sure I would have ever left.
If you want to make drastic changes or grow a business you need consistent exposure to others who are working on the exact same thing. The people around you rub off more than you think. If everyone you’re spending time with is talking about getting that promotion to middle management or their vacation to Hawaii at the end of next year – you’ll eventually adopt the same mindset.
Seek out people doing what you want to do, and spend as much time as possible with them.
8) You Can Learn Anything, Quickly, If There’s Enough Motivation
Note: Yes I know there’s a smiley above, go with it!
Most of us grew up in a very traditional education system; one in which it took 16 years to become “educated”.
With the internet, and the incredible amount of high quality, specialized information readily available you can learn just about anything in weeks, not months or years.
As an entrepreneur, there’s going to be a ton of stuff you don’t know how to do, but you better believe you’ll need to learn it. You can’t afford to not learn it quickly. You’ve gotta be on top of your game, adapt, and move onto the next thing.
However if you really want to rapidly build skills you’ll have to learn from some of the other lessons: have a sense of urgency, surround yourself with the right people, and know why you’re doing it.
9) Play is Essential for Work
A trend I’ve noticed over my three years of self-employment is that the more I play, the greater the desire is to work.
If I have an extended period of time where all I do is work, I tend to forget why I’m even working. When I’m off having adventures or doing something fun I almost always come back yearning to work. I’m always the most productive and enjoy my work the most immediately after doing something fun.
By playing on a regular basis, I remain motivated to work.
It also serves as a reminder as to why I chose the path of lifestyle entrepreneurship as opposed to a traditional job or startup path.
Sure I may never sell to Facebook for a billion dollars – but on the other hand, who knows.
No matter how much you think you always need to work – you don’t. Life is short, remember to have fun.
#10) It Never Gets Any Less Awesome
I’ve referenced this multiple times over the last three years.
Right after I left my job and started working with the Tropical MBA crew, Dan Andrews told me something I’ll never forget. He said:
“No matter how many years pass, it never gets any less awesome,” referring to being a lifestyle entrepreneur.
And you know what? He was absolutely right.
I love my life. I love helping others with their lifestyle goals, traveling the world, and having the flexibility and freedom of time.
Being an entrepreneur is incredibly hard, and it requires a complete departure from what you’re used to in a traditional job. But if you think you have it in you and you think it’s right for you, by all means give it a shot.
The rewards are apparent each and every day.
What’s the ONE most important thing you’ve learned about entrepreneurship?