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The Beginner’s Guide to Succeeding at Entrepreneurship

When you have zero experience, zero credentials and zero skills, it’s tempting not to try. Do it anyway. You still can win big.

March 12, 2019 7 min read

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When you have zero experience, zero credentials, and zero skills, it’s tempting not to try. Your head fills with a million and one reasons why you should stay where you are — focused on what you know.

The trouble is the voice in your head that wants to try anyway. You’ve always wanted to start a business, but you don’t know how. You have a bucket list of ideas, but they feel out of reach. You want to get into shape, but your past says you can’t.

Here’s the truth: You can be a complete beginner and still win big.

Sometimes knowing nothing is an advantage because it inspires you to approach everything with an open mind. When you challenge yourself to grow through action, odds are you’ll find a way that works. This is how I went from:

  • Working as a petroleum engineer to transforming my side hustle into a successful seven-figure company in a market I knew nothing about.

  • Being clueless about stand-up comedy to getting roaring applause on one of the most prestigious comedy stages on Broadway.

  • Creating zero podcasts to 50+ episodes and tens of thousands of downloads in 12 months — with no prior audience.

Achieve something you didn’t believe possible, and you’ll destroy the artificial limits you’ve placed on yourself. Best of all, it’s not as hard as you think. Here are five essentials that will help you achieve anything, even if you’re starting from scratch.

1. Don’t judge your starting point.

I began my motivational podcast in December 2017. I looked to established podcasts for inspiration and instead came way feeling incapable. Everyone was so much better and further ahead than I was. It sent my “fear voice” into overdrive. Was it worth the hassle? Could I do it? Would people judge me for starting small?  

Compare yourself with people miles ahead of you, and you’ll always feel inadequate. Everyone starts somewhere. It’s much better to assess your progress by how far you’ve come rather than how far you need to go.

If I hadn’t started anyway, I wouldn’t be where I am today — looking back and feeling proud of what the podcast has achieved, where it’s going and the millions of lives it’ll impact.

All growth happens outside your comfort zone. If you try only the things you’re confident you can do, you’ll never realize how incredibly talented and resourceful you really are.

Related: When Is the Best Time to Make the Leap from Your Day Job to Entrepreneur?

2. Commit to consistent action.

Passion fuels the start of any new project. When that initial excitement evaporates, fear of mistakes, inevitable roadblocks and self-doubt creep in to hold you back. Counter these challenges by committing to consistent action.

You must fall in love with the work, not the end result. Although sprints of work can accomplish goals, they don’t create ongoing momentum. It’s much more effective to set up systems and processes that force you to implement your action plan daily. That way you can leverage the compound interest on continuous improvement.

I set out with a target of one podcast episode a week. To help keep myself accountable, I told my listeners. Then I sorted things behind the scenes to make that schedule stick. I knew a chain of action would be harder to break. Before I knew it, one episode grew to 10, then 25, then 50 and beyond.  

The same method works for any venture. Want to get better at cold-calling? Commit to five calls every day. Want to become more flexible? Stretch daily. Want to start a business? Set aside time to work on it every day.

Time will give you everything you want, but you must be willing to commit to the long game.

Related: Vegan Celebrity Chef Chloe Coscarelli Says Entrepreneurs Should Push for Change Even When No One Believes in Them

3. Focus on being better tomorrow than you are today.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Big accomplishments result from intentional action. You can’t rush or shortcut the project.

Growth is gradual, building on itself. Focus on 1 percent improvement every day, and a visible transformation will develop over time. You’ll refine your approach and get more efficient until a 1 percent improvement is roughly equal to the improvement you experienced over the entire previous week. What’s more, because you’ve built a habit, growth doesn’t stop.

A daily reflection was key to maintaining my consistency. This practice helped me consolidate my wins and pull out the micro lessons that inspired each tomorrow’s growth. I learned to focus on the feedback that matters and ignore the feedback that doesn’t.

You can, too. 

Related: 8 Ways Focusing on Improvement Will Pull Us Out of Any Failure

4. Fail as fast as you can.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s inevitable that you’ll get some things wrong. You’ve simply got to change your mindset around failure.

People generally aren’t scared to fail. They’re afraid others will see them do it. Making mistakes is a huge part of growing and learning. Getting it wrong never feels good, but you can grab on to the opportunity to learn. You’ll grow more quickly because you’ll start making better mistakes. The faster you fall, the quicker you rise.

Relish the roadblocks and challenges. Be ready for things to get in your way when you’re walking the harder path, and expect yourself to get through it. Success follows when you fight perfectionism with action in the spirit of learning, growing and becoming the best version of yourself.

In “Principles: Life and Work,” hedge-fund founder and bestselling author Ray Dalio offers a compelling vision of that mindset: “It seems to me that if you look back on yourself a year ago and aren’t shocked by how stupid you were, you haven’t learned much.”

Related: The Property Brothers Talk Entrepreneurship, Risk-Taking and the Value of Failure

5. Learn from people who’ve done what you want to do.

In today’s world, you never have to start anything from scratch. There’s an abundance of information out there. You don’t have to go through anything with your eyes closed. Find people who are where you want to be, and follow their footsteps.

  • Invest in mentors (it’s what prepared me to perform on Broadway in less than two months).

  • Invest in courses (it’s how I built my business to seven figures in under a year).

  • Invest in books, events, seminars, and workshops (it’s how I surrounded myself with success stories and ideas that helped me get where I am, a lot more quickly than I could’ve imagined).

Related: How to 10X Your Learning from Others’ Experiences

Bonus tip: The sooner you start, the sooner you benefit.

The best time to start anything worth doing was 20 years ago. And the second-best time? It’s right now.  

It doesn’t matter if you have zero experience. All that matters is you’re willing to learn, make mistakes and put in the work needed to actualize whatever it is you want to start. Just take another step — even if it’s into the dark — knowing you can figure it out.

I can’t wait to see what you start.

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