Over the weekend I had the opportunity to speak in Oklahoma at the Marketplace Leaders Breakfast. I took the chance to debut my re-branded and updated product, which threw my team in a mad rush to finish the production before I flew out. Early in the week I was encouraged by 2 Kings 3:16-17, a verse about digging trenches and then watching them fill up with water. My business is a small shop right now, but I stirred my team up with this encouragement. We put in the hard work in the beginning and watch as it turns into growth. Yesterday, I talked about this metaphor of digging trenches and how it’s applied to the average person. But today, I want to look at entrepreneurs.

Digging trenches, laying the groundwork, paving the path–these are all metaphors that will make or break your business. The beginning of anything is hard work and a lot of work. So if you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, or someone transitioning into a different business style, this list is for you.

  1. It’s okay to try too hard for your first couple of clients: Starting up a business or brand has so much to do with getting your name out in the world with repute. But besides marketing and networking, the only sure way to do this is by making your first clients and customers in awe with you. This is going to mean digging trenches–working late and extra hard. But it’s alright at the beginning of things because you do this hard work in faith that you will eventually brand yourself respectfully. Once your name is out there, and you’ve found a groove that’s not so exhausting, you can shift into a regular work load. Of course you’ll still have some long nights and hard work will pay off, but that initial trench-digging will have laid the way for you to work steadily.
  2. Learn as you go: At the beginning, it’s normal to feel in over your head. You might tackle things that require learning new programs or new computer systems; you might have to learn to connect to people you don’t understand–just don’t freeze. Take every opportunity to grow your portfolio and your work skills. Whether you are learning Acrobat Pro or wine pairing, allow yourself to be immersed. Not only will you be able to expertly execute your contract or please your customers, but you will have opened a whole new venue for your business.
  3. Respect, honesty, faith: These three words are good ones for you to carry with you as you dig the trenches. Respect every level of relationship in your business–clients, partners, employees, yourself. Honesty will be a big part of respecting these groups. If you are at your breaking point, or realizing you are working too far out of your skill set, be honest. This is respectful to yourself, those you work with, and your clients. If a project is too much or too outside your know-how, it’s okay to back down respectfully and offer your skills for any other needs. Faith is the whole concept behind digging trenches. We work hard at the beginning of our businesses, because we believe that there will come a day when we work with appropriate effort and ease, while doing something we are passionate about. We have faith that our venture is meaningful and the market will see that and respond. So it’s okay to break your back in the beginning. You do so in faith that the work will pay off, and success will follow.

What’s something you had a chance to learn through your career?

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