30 Tips for Entrepreneurs From My First 5 Years in Business

Well hello there, five year anniversary. I didn’t expect to see you here. Not that I doubted I’d get here eventually, I just didn’t think that far ahead when I started.

Tips for Entrepreneurs

After all, I wasn’t quite sure what this big idea would turn into or whether it would work or not. Heck, I didn’t even know if I wanted to do PR again after my first experience with it … and here we are!

Finding the Right Path

Life is funny, challenging and beautiful. This entrepreneurial journey has been full of adventure, both happy and stressful. Call me crazy but I love it. I didn’t expect to be where I am today but it’s just where I want to be. Not that I’ve done things perfectly or that I am doing them just the right way now, but I know I’m on the right path and I’m excited for what the future holds.

I think what impresses me the most about this journey is the variety of lessons to be learned and the people I get to know along the way. Being an entrepreneur has taught me to be more empathetic while, at the same time, sticking to my gut instinct regardless of the opinions of others.

When I started out, I had a close mentor strongly recommend that I wait longer. In her opinion, I should have gotten more experience under my belt and given it some more time. I think this feedback was from good intention based on the experiences she had as an entrepreneur. But it wasn’t the right advice for me.

I was supposed to leap and that was my time.

That is what my gut told me — even though I didn’t know how I was going to do it or whether I’d fall or fly.


30 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Now, five years later, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn, grow, evolve and innovate. This journey has been the wackiest and yet SO the right thing for me to do. This experience has taught me to be more courageous, to be kinder to myself and others, to learn from and rely on others, to relinquish more control and a number of other tidbits and paradigm shifts, some of which are:

  1. Follow your gut – always.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Delegate and elevate.
  4. Make time for the people and activities you enjoy.
  5. Compare and despair.
  6. Do what makes you happy.
  7. Say NO to experiences and people that drain you.
  8. Cash is queen.
  9. Stop apologizing so much.
  10. Keep investing in yourself.
  11. Nothing beats the feeling of five or six months of expenses saved up.
  12. Develop a scorecard that tells you the pulse of the health of your business at a glance.
  13. To build a foundation for a strong company complete with processes, mission, goals and core values, read “Traction” by Gino Wickman.
  14. To build into your culture and successfully navigate critical conversations, read “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott.
  15. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
  16. Care. If you don’t, what are you doing all this for?
  17. I am my best when I can work on the business rather than in the business.
  18. Team is everything. If the fit is off, failure is close behind.
  19. Invest in your marriage like it’s a startup you’re bootstrapping.
  20. Don’t let email run your day. Proactive work trumps reactive work.
  21. Take regular breaks – unplugged. When was your last vacation? It’s probably been too long. In my experience, spending at least two weeks unplugged from work produces enough creativity and energy to make my team duck-for-cover when I return.
  22. Know your personal purpose statement. Need one? Download this.
  23. Don’t shell out tons of cash on coaching right away. I found in most cases it’s not worth the investment and I can learn more taking someone to coffee or joining a peer group.
  24. Are you a PR agency owner? Join Counselors Academy. Other than my employees, it’s the best investment I’ve made in business to date.
  25. Want to be a better leader? Read “Leading Through the Turn” by Elise Mitchell.
  26. Investing in company culture works.
  27. Keep asking for help when you need it. I am consistently impressed by the kindness of others in lending a word of advice as I’ve needed it.
  28. It’s okay to be different. It’s valuable to learn from others and adapt what you learn to be your own. It’s even more okay to figure out how you want to do things and just do it like that. This is your life and your business so at the end of the day, why wouldn’t you do what works for you?
  29. Stop and savor the moment. This is something I continue to work on because it’s easy to take for granted milestones and successes. The truth is, success is not the status quo. I’m so grateful to do what I love every day with people I care deeply about.
  30. Do the damn thing. The time for action is now. The fact is we do not know if we even have tomorrow so why are we still waiting to do the damn thing? You are smart, brave and capable of more than you know. Take a deep breath and leap.

These are just some of the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn in this entrepreneurial endeavor. If you want even more check out the past blog post I wrote on startup lessons learned.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for supporting this journey in even a small way. I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or Instagram — or even better IRL.

Now I’m off to spend the next few days celebrating with my team.

Cheers!

Kate

Kate Finley

Founder + CEO of Belle
Currently thriving in Columbus OH