Starting Your Business: How to Get Going, When You Don't Know Where to Start

April 22, 2014


The biggest career curveball for me was making the decision to leave the comfort of a secure and consistently paying job to run with an entrepreneurial idea. I worked for one of the best brands and companies in social media at HootSuite for almost 3 years and loved it. Seeing HootSuite grow from a small group to a large global powerhouse was amazing and spending so much time with great people made them my second family which made the choice to leave and start NexLevel Sales a very difficult decision.

The Challenges of Starting a Business

That’s when a type of killer instinct kicks in and you figure out quickly that you have to hustle and lose sleep because there isn’t a paycheck to support you. Having a steady job is like having a never-ending pot at the poker table, but choosing to work for yourself with no startup capital is like going all in — it was nerve racking!

Every decision you make is a proverbial life or death decision and impacts your own individual ability to put food on your own table. You’re now the CEO, CFO, CMO, janitor and everything else and you have to somehow play them all. Aside from all this, I had to still work with my fantastic clients, as well as, sleep and try to do regular life things in 24 hours. It started to seem impossible. Doing all this instead of the comfort of delivering sales training from 9-5 was a shocker.

Building Your Professional Brand

The key for me was to stay calm and leverage mentors as much as I could to keep me grounded and try to avoid making any rash decisions. I made a list of key people that had elements that I knew would be essential in conquering different roadblocks whether it be accounting, marketing, sales, or whatever and kept them all on speed dial. This is what helped me get through the difficult part was by having great support from people who offered their experience to help me avoid pitfalls of first time entrepreneurs and accelerate the road to stability.

Leveraging Your Network

After all was said and done, the groove eventually came. The key was pushing hard and building the right relationships. That not only allowed me to seek successful advice, but offered me opportunities to collaborate on content and build a healthy network of inbound links, and referrals partnerships. I now leave my phone on 24 hours a day and answer calls from all over the world, at all hours of the night, but it’s all worth it!

Startup Lessons Learned

I learned that if you want to be an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, or you want to dabble while you’re at your current job, you have to be 100% there at all times. Never can you take a mental break or coast through a meeting or a call because everything impacts your individual bottom-line directly. Though I live with no regrets other than doubting myself earlier in life, the move from being a paid employee to an entrepreneur was like jumping into cold water, scary at first but refreshing in the end.

Here are 3 tips that I would like to share with salespeople that help me take a challenge head on:

  1. Always have a Plan B. Just like you do going into a negotiation or plan for a proposal — Your first plan will not always happen.

  1. Have resilience. The same resilience you have to exude to win a prospect when they’re happy with status quo is the same resilience that will drive success as an entrepreneur.

  1. Always trust your gut. Always! Even when you fear failure - ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” Have the confidence to run with your idea.