One thing I like about entrepreneurship is that there isn’t just one way to go about it. It’s a creative and strategic process that involves constant problem-solving. You don’t necessarily need training or a business background or even money to get your idea off the ground and running!
When I started my first business I had 80 dollars to my name, I was a high school dropout, I had no business training or experience. All I had was an idea, a passion, and the drive to make it work. What started as my small event staffing agency has expanded world-wide, working with top brands and celebrities, and over 10,000 dedicated staff across North America, Australia and the UK. On top of that, I’ve gone on to launch and build several other successful companies including Femme Fatale Public Relations (FFPR), True Glue Beauty, Lyons Elite Matchmaking, JWLS accessories and The Julia Lyons Foundation.
Because of the success of my businesses, I think it’s valuable to share what I’ve learned along the way. That’s why I also started the Mind Your Business podcast, to speak with other inspiring entrepreneurs about their business journeys and their hard-earned wisdom. I share my entire story plus some in my forthcoming book but here are some key points I always emphasize when talking to aspiring entrepreneurs.
- There’s never a right time. Once you’ve found your passion, all you need is an idea. Once you have that idea, get started. When I decided to start my own business, I registered the name, started a website and a blog (a friend made my website for free because I couldn’t afford it) and hit the ground running even though I didn’t really know what I was doing.
- The Internet is your best friend. Because I had no business training, I spent countless late nights teaching myself about marketing, advertising and public relations. I taught myself about SEO and I kept blogging on my website until my company was the top-searched promo modelling company online. Digital marketing through social media is an excellent way to get visibility for your company. Literally, anything you need to learn is online.
- The best way to learn is by doing. No matter what you’ve learned online or even if you went to business school, most of it doesn’t prepare you for actually doing it. You will always be thrown curve-balls that will make you improvise and move fast on your feet. Despite what I read and learned about business and money management, I learned best through trial and error. This takes bravery and the willingness to fail and get back up again, and again, and again, and again!
- Be insane! What I mean by that is relentless. Truly relentless. When the first jobs started rolling into my company, I went to every single booking and talked to absolutely everyone and handed out my terrible business cards. I compiled huge mailing lists of literally every potential client in Toronto. I’d cold call people, follow up and the follow up again. Many clients I got because I simply would not leave them alone. Of course, be charming and kind, but be annoying as hell to show that you’re serious. Go out and get what you deserve because it’s not going to come to you at first.
- If you’re not passionate about your project, forget it. Because it’s the passion that will drive you. If you’re not passionate about your project then the months and months of round-the-clock work will be too draining and burn you out. Your new company is like your baby and we all know new parents don’t get any sleep for at least a year.
How successful entrepreneurs build their businesses is usually quite idiosyncratic but I think these general guidelines apply across the board. The entrepreneurial process is complex and highly rewarding. What I’ve said here barely scratches the surface, but it’s a start. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll expound on the subject more. Why? Because I’ve earned my badges and I hope you will too!