I’m sure you’ve seen those magic pill marketing schemes, yep you know the ones which promise that you’ll become your own boss in just 90 days if you follow their specific process. Then, voila, all of a sudden a Brinks truck shows up at your door with piles of money! Now I’m not here to say that those strategies don’t work for some, but for me, becoming an entrepreneur was much more difficult than that.

My journey to entrepreneurship started out as a simple side hustle, hoping my SEO skills could translate beyond my traditional full-time job. After Googling and doing a little bit of research, I ended up on a freelancer website incredibly excited to put my skills to use! This is going to be incredibly easy, right? Wrong. Rejection after rejection came until finally, I got my first freelance consulting gig. The Holy Grail! My consulting fee – a paltry $40 per month. Yes, you read that correctly. Forty. Whole. Dollars.

If you’re wondering why I accepted in the first place, that’s reasonable, but this was just what I thought of as “growing pains” until I eventually got my foot in the door.

What was once viewed as a temporary situation eventually became the norm, and I found myself stuck in a rut. I hadn’t acquired any additional clients, and I knew this wasn’t the situation I had envisioned. I took a step back and asked myself, “what do I need to change to be more successful as an entrepreneur?”

The answer was to develop a more process-driven approach that would focus on more impactful decisions instead of flying by the seat of my pants.

Fast forward a couple of years and that shift in mentality allowed me to thrive and start my own digital marketing agency. Here are five most effective behaviors I learned and applied to help shift the dynamic of my business from stagnant to successful.

Improving your organizational skills will help prioritization

I cannot stress how important being organized is to your success as an entrepreneur. When I first started out, I was completely disorganized and worked on what I felt like, when I felt like it. It wasn’t until I put some structure around my tasks, that I realized I wasn’t acquiring new clients because I hadn’t made it a high enough priority. I was spending time on it, but it was sporadic at best. Once I became more organized, it allowed me the clarity to prioritize my goals and objectives.

It’s Ok to leave tasks temporarily incomplete

Early on I tried to solve world peace in a day. In other words, I was trying to complete every single task on my list before I went to sleep at night. Often times it was physically impossible to complete all tasks in a day, which I often paid for in the form of losing sleep and motivation. It wasn’t until I read about the Zeigarnik effect, and the brain’s way of focusing on incomplete tasks, that I was able to use unfinished tasks to my advantage. I would often leave content or analyses half-complete, go to sleep, and come back with a completely refreshed attitude about the task.

Market yourself effectively

Even though I am a marketer by nature, I was committing the cardinal sin of not marketing myself effectively. I was working under the mantra of, “if you build it, they will come,” instead of promoting my services and skills. I stumbled upon a quote by Seth Godin that really struck me when he said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” I needed to tell stories that were so compelling, businesses couldn’t help but want me to do the same for them. It’s not always about the specifics of the work you do, but the connection and relationship that it builds with your potential customers.

Get used to being uncomfortable

This is one that I really struggled with, but in the end, it paid the greatest dividends. I had to change my mindset and embrace being uncomfortable sometimes. Delivering sales pitches and developing shrewd negotiation tactics were not things that happened overnight. Those skills didn’t really pay off until I embraced the discomfort and leaned into the things I wasn’t naturally comfortable with. As humans, we are naturally averse to change, although once you embrace that change is uncomfortable but inevitable, you’re exhibiting incredibly positive habits for an entrepreneur.

Celebrate your wins

Last but not least, celebrate your accomplishments when they come along! As entrepreneurs, we’re naturally always looking ahead to the next big “win,” and often forget to live in the moment during successful times. I actually set an alarm each morning after I read my email to find something positive to celebrate, and it did wonders for my mentality. Whether you realize it or not, recognizing the small victories often boosts motivation to keep pushing for that long-term goal. I can personally attest to that.

Takeaways

My experience certainly taught me that it’s never too late to pivot and seek new ideas or tactics if the old ones aren’t working. While incorporating these behaviors into my lifestyle worked wonders for me, you may find that tweaking them a bit suits your personality more. There is more than one way to become a successful entrepreneur, but the conclusion I came to was that structure should be an absolute cornerstone of whatever plan you have.

Cory Young
Cory Young is the founder of BCC Interactive, a digital marketing agency in Philadelphia, specializing in growing businesses through search marketing. Cory has 10+ years experience developing robust SEO and Paid Search strategies for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike.

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