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Business Principle #1: It starts with you.

There’s one person who’s absolutely essential to your business—you! But many entrepreneurs don’t stop to think about why they’ve started or what they really want from their business.

This post is part of a series on ten foundational principles of being an entrepreneur.

When you start a business, you’ll be told the first thing you need to do is focus on your customer. And while we wholeheartedly agree on the importance of the customer (see principle #2, coming soon!), a business begins closer to home. 

It starts with you—the entrepreneur. 

Without you, the business doesn’t exist. Your ideas, your dreams, your strengths, your shortcomings are all going to influence your business. While others may contribute, both the opportunity and the burden rest squarely on your shoulders. 

As such, you need to think about what you want from your business. A few simple questions can help you dig deeper.

What’s motivating you? 

Most entrepreneurs start businesses for deeply personal reasons. Perhaps the world failed them in some way and they want to save others from that experience. Or they want greater flexibility in their schedule than a traditional nine-to-five. Or they want to pursue a personal passion, make their own decisions...the reasons are endless. 

Something is driving you to make this business happen. What is it? How did the idea come about? Why this business? Why now?

Diving into your motivation will help you better understand where you’ve been and where you want to go. 

What does success look like? 

While motive is foundational to the beginning of your story, it’s also important to have clarity on how you want that story to “end.” As an entrepreneur, you’re working toward something—some vision you have about how you want your life to be. About your purpose on this planet. About how you want to leave your mark. When you think about your own path, where do you want it to lead?

Like motivation, success tends to be deeply personal. Each person’s vision for what they want out of life (and business) is different. While to some entrepreneurs, success is growing their business to a billion-dollar-company, to others it may be staying small and flexible as a solo operation. What does success look like for you?

What’s your support system? 

Let’s just face it. Being an entrepreneur has a lot of upsides, but it can also be challenging. While it can afford a lot of freedom, it also entails much responsibility. 

The story of entrepreneur burnout is a common one. But if your vision of success includes being healthy and happy, then taking steps to build a support system is vital. 

What will you do to carve out time for yourself? How will you protect that time and prioritize it? Whether committing to one vacation week per year or setting aside 15 minutes a day for mediation, making time for yourself is a must. Stepping away can help you recharge, refresh, and reengage your business better. 

Who can help you? Who will hold you accountable? Who will listen when you’ve had a hard day? Who will help you strategize the best way to solve that problem? Doing it alone can be daunting. Figure out who can help and how. 

While your business starts with you, it shouldn’t end with you. 

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