I’ve been an entrepreneur for quite a while, but I didn’t eagerly and authentically enter the ranks. In the beginning, as my income increased, I thouhght I needed to have a place to write off things so I could save on my taxes, so I followed the advice of an accountant and created a business. Yep, that’s the whole truth!

Years ago, when that 1st business, Strictly Kids Decorating, failed, it was because I was a great technician (talented as all get out) but didn’t know a thing about being a CEO. I painted tromp l’oiel murals on walls in homes and businesses and I enjoyed seeing the delight in people’s eyes when I transformed a wall from bland to vavoom!  I learned what I think is my most valuable lesson: 80% of business success is found in becoming a strategic, creative and intuitive CEO.
Then my 2nd business folded because I thought friendship would protect us.  Lesson learned: never enter business with friendship terms of agreement.  Create specific and clear partnership terms that include how a dissolution agreement.
Now for my third business, which I’ve been the CEO of for 9 years, I remembered the many lessons I learned over the years and decided I would treat my business like I wanted to and knew how to succeed and I started with respecting my values and my mission to serve and support others to create meaningful change and achieve their dreams. I did what I continue to do to this day, I studied, learned and implemented best practices and I continue to reeap the fruits of my labor.
Here are my top 20 lessons learned from 19 years as an entrepreneur:
  • Mindset is everything. What you believe and how you think will determine whether or not you succeed.
  • 80% of business success is found in becoming a strategic, creative and intuitive CEO.
  • You don’t get paid for your time, you’re paid for your expertise and the quality of experience you help your client consistently achieve.
  • It’s not about the money your gift is present to benefit others.
  • Before you gain momentum, you have to experience the moment. Success is comprised of every little thing you do added together over time. Be strategic. Keep going.
  • loving what you do causes everything that happens on your journey to have value
  • You start with talent then combine talent with focused training in the craft which leads to mastery.  Mastery has many levels. As your mastery grows, your confidence grows and thus, your business achieves ever evolving success.
  • There are 3 essential keys to growing your business: 1. mindset 2. knowledge 3. execution.  Tend to each area with focus and commitment and you can’t help but succeed!
  • Trust your gut – let your intuition sit in the head chair at all of your meetings and brainstorming sessions.
  • Whatever you don’t know and need to know, learn it. Everything else delegate to someone smarter than you.
  • Plan like the tortoise that knows when to run like the hare
  • Play with Fear on the Field – move forward especially when you’re afraid.  The benefits will BLOW your mind
  • Put an end point on the timeline for your dream. Assess where you are and whether or not you want to keep going in that direction. You can alway stop if you want to.
  • There is no shame in making money as you serve other. Money is a tool for good.
  • Invest to become the best.  Hire a coach, get a mentor who is 10 steps ahead of you.
  • Think creativity and compliment not competition and copy.
  • Be a laser beam and not a floodlight – get clear, make a plan and stay focused as you master one thing at a time.
  • The best expert knows how and when to be a great student.
  • Know what value you bring to the room.  Never apologize for how you’ve grown.
  • Serve with S.O.U.L. Serve Others with Unlimited Love.
  • BONUS – make paying yourself a priority!

If you’re in the first 5 years of your entrepreneurial journey, I used to be right where you are.  I share these lessons learned to encourage you and inspire you to keep going!  Along the way, I made quite a few mistakes, but hey, that’s part of what gives me the cahoones to help and support others to achieve their entrepreneur dreams!

What’s your success story?  Share your lessons learned below.

Remember, life is precious.  Do your happy dance. Enjoy Life!

Denise J. Hart is an entrepreneur, author and now coach. 

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