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10 tips to surviving the first 6 months of your business

(Photo credit: catchlights_sg/iStock)

You’re living the dream and you’ve launched your business. You knew it would be hard, and you were right. You lie awake at night from a combination of worry, anticipation, excitement and pure adrenalin. And in your sleep-deprived, highly engaged state, you sometimes make choices that hinder your success. Here are a few things to help you get over that hump.

1. Work on purpose 

Know your purpose, know your vision — live it with every choice, phone call, email, and action. It's why you're in business and it will sustain you when you start to doubt yourself. Start every day by affirming your purpose and your passion, and let that frame your day.

2. Focus

Your adrenalin is pumping, and you have one idea after another. You talk to others and you get them excited, which gets you even more excited. Suddenly you have five new add-on ideas. Focus your energy on getting your existing venture up and running successfully first, without the distraction of an off-shoot. Distractions split your attention and often your results. Log the ideas so you don’t lose them, and dig into your existing offering to make it as strong as you can before building.

3. Build your network

You can’t do it alone so don’t expect to. Talk to people who have been in your shoes and have great lessons to share.

Ask for help. Listen and learn every day. Be willing to consider other approaches. Take time out of your day, every day, to build the connections that will sustain you through the hard times. Support is invaluable and you will need it.

4. Be open to advice

Ask for it, listen to it, learn from it, and know that you won’t be able to respond to all of it. It’s a fine balance. If your purpose and vision are clear, it will help you sift through the suggestions.

5. Develop your message

You will talk to people everywhere about your business, so be ready! Have your purpose and your vision fully engrained in a 30-second “pitch” that shares your story.

This is brand “YOU”. Share it authentically; share it with humility and confidence. Practice your pitch, ask for feedback and then be opportunity ready.

6. Know your strengths

Money can be tight during the first months of business, but you are better off focusing on your strengths in the business and paying experts to do other pieces that are not your forte (mistakes can be costly!). Businesses built around your strengths are far more likely to succeed than if you spend time on things that you are not great at. You just need to make sure these things get done, so find the right team to complement your strengths.

7. Choose your team wisely

Work and deal with people you like. Life is too short not to. Enough said.

8. Keep it simple

This is start up mode. You don’t need to have everything in place like a long-running business. Keep the budget simple, reduce overhead where you need to, be lean, say no to things that will unnecessarily expand your budget. Remember, it’s okay to say no.

9. Check your expectations

You are more excited about your business than anyone else. You see the value that others may not. You think it is a million dollar idea, and others should stand in line to give you time or money. Think again. You need to prove the value of your business before someone is willing to give you money.

Investors will invest in you when you have proven there will be a return on that investment. You need to find a way to make it relevant to them before they give you their time. Tap into their world, not yours, when you are trying to engage others to help you.

10. Stay healthy

Exercise, eat right, get sleep — even if it’s on a creative schedule. Laugh, play with your kids, spend time with friends — it all helps your overall health. Disconnect from work periodically, your brain needs rest. This is just as important as working hard. You can’t run your business when you are running on empty!

Want to dig deeper into some of these areas? Join the Women In Leadership and Business Conference to interact with leaders and business owners at all levels.