Initially, I wanted to write about 10 things, but honestly, there is nothing else I can think of that I wish I would have known before starting my business in Switzerland.
I would not want to miss any of the stuff that went wrong, because without that experience, I would not be where I am today.
1. Things Are Going to be Fine
This is the most important point I want to make here.
Building a business is hard. Jordico is the 3rd business I started and it was still hard.
During my first 6 months, I had more shifts in mood than ever before.
I woke up and my first thought was if I would earn any money this month. Right after breakfast, I was excited to talk to amazing people and write a blog post.
Five minutes later, I was doubting my sanity for building a business when I could just live a comfortable, though unfulfilling life in a corporate job.
At lunch I would talk to a highly supportive friend or my girlfriend and she would assure that things are going to be fine, just like she did for the last 300 times that week.
Riding on that wave of certainty about my future, I would write another blog post and around 5pm I was back to doubting my sanity.
After dinner, I could hardly focus on anything because I was fighting the urge of continuing to work on my business while trying to watch an episode of Scrubs to switch off.
It’s never difficult to find out what and how to do something. The difficulty lies in overcoming self-doubt, limiting beliefs and the Lord of Destruction, fear.
Here is what Seth Godin said he wished he had known:
“But the one thing I wish I had known then was that whatever happens, things are going to be fine in the end, that the pain is part of the journey, and that without the pain there really isn’t a journey worth going on.
No, it doesn’t all work, but you always get to dance. Win or lose, you get to play. I would tell myself not to put so much emotional baggage on every project and every interaction. The goal is to keep playing, not to win.
At the end of a project, the end of the day, and the end of the game, you can look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that at least you go to dance.”
2. Connect Your Community
When I first started out, I did not realize the power of connecting people in my community with each other.
I have learned what this does from my LinkedIn group, the Career Network Switzerland, which has now over 5000 members.
If you are on my email list, you can receive emails from me and send me emails. However, you can’t communicate with the other people who are also subscribed.
This is different when you are part of a community like the Career Network Switzerland. I still have the option to reach out to you and you can still answer back.
However, one important component is added, the interaction between you and other likeminded individuals who are building their service business in Switzerland. This creates massive value.
Every week, I connect likeminded people, that I know personally, with each other in my network. This is a major part of my networking strategy, probably the most important one.
I just recently met with the business development head from a fast growing startup in Zurich and I connected him with potential investors and influencers who know investors.
I did this for two reasons.
1. I believe that the startup can have a big impact in the world
2. The business development head is a value player to me
About a week ago, I organized a get-together in Zurich with my coaching & mentoring clients and 25 people showed up to get to know each other better and have a few drinks.
Many of them knew each other already from emails, phone calls and some times from coffee meetings. I have introduced them before because I saw some connection points, either for potential business opportunities or friendships.
The feedback I received from my clients was astonishing. Some people traveled to Zurich from Geneva and Germany. One of my clients even flew in from Barcelona to get together with me and the rest of the community.
3. Mentorship is Crucial
When I first started my business, I did not know much about mentorship. I had heard that you can get mentorship from big gurus and experts in your field.
I even got offered mentorship from a very experienced entrepreneur and investor but I had no idea what this would be doing for me, so I gently rejected the offer.
I was very naive to do that and it took me a year to find a mentor and coach who I really feel connected with. I have joined many programs over the years, some were great, others not so.
Finally, in December 2013, I joined Michael Port’s Mentoring Program. A lot of things have changed over the past 3 months. If I need feedback or want to hear how Michael approached a situation earlier in business, I simply ask him in one of the mentoring calls.
Many times, I know what’s the best thing to do and simply want re-assurance from somebody who is where I want to go.
I love the mentoring program and Michael’s approach so much that I have decided to get licensed in teaching the Book Yourself Solid® system.
This allows me to help my clients build their service business in Switzerland even faster and on the most solid foundation I have ever come across.
4. Mastermind Groups are Invaluable
Napoleon Hill famously talked about the concept of the Mastermind Group is his book Think and Grow Rich. I have read the book 3 times and I knew the Mastermind Group was important. I simply had no idea how this should work for me and where to get the people from.
In early 2013, I joined Fizzle and got together with two other business owners who are building their legacy.
When I joined Michael Port’s Mentoring Program, I formed another Mastermind Group with three business owners who strive to only work with ideal clients who energize and inspire them to make their dent in the universe.
I have always been a bit of a procrastinator, especially when I was still working in corporate.
The Mastermind Group changed that forever. If I commit to achieving a goal or three until next week, there is no way I’m going to have an excuse for why I did not do it. I would not want to work with people like that and I don’t want to be such a person.
So I work with two Mastermind Groups. In total, we meet exactly for 2.5 hours per week and the Return on Investment is immeasurable.
What I know is that I’m getting more stuff done than ever before. Also, just by the act of sharing my accomplishments from the previous week and having to think about everything that I achieved, I feel proud and energetic.
In the 3rd week of January this year, I somehow felt I did not achieve as much as I wanted to. So I wrote down everything I have achieved to build my business.
I felt completely fired up after that exercise and no longer doubted my productivity.
Try it right now.
Write down 5-10 things you have achieved in the past week to build your service business. Don’t stop brainstorming until you come up with at least 5 things.
5. Your Peers are as Important as Your Clients
Yes, this comes from the “Relationship Guy”. I neglected building relationships with people who are serving the same target market as I do completely for the first 6 months. I only focused on building relationships with my audience of readers and clients.
I believe that splitting my relationship building efforts 50/50 between peers and clients could have accelerated my business growth even more.
I see the massive difference now. I get many more referrals from people in my Gang of 5, get booked for speaking gigs, seminars and workshops. I also get offered guest blogging opportunities from people who run influential websites in Switzerland that cater to the same target market as I do.
Now, I make sure I split my efforts 50/50 and actively reach out to potential partners and peers in a genuine way.
What do you wish you had known before starting your business? Share it with the community in the comments below.