What have I learned in 3 months as an international entrepreneur

Summer is a great time to do some reflecting on the year so far, because we often have fewer engagements and more time to think. During busy times, it is so easy to get into ”doing” mode that we often do not stop to think about what we have accomplished so far or where we want to go next. Still, reflection is a significant part of learning and personal growth, so it is important to take a break for it once in a while.

I reflect on my life and business on at least a monthly basis, but as a rookie entrepreneur, I wanted to extend my reflection also to a quarterly review. I now have my first quarter behind me and the learning curve has been steep. Here are some of the things I have learned so far:

Local networks matter also in online business

Even though I work almost 100% online, I have already noticed that local communities still matter. Being active for example in local Facebook groups, attending events and volunteering for interesting projects take you out of your own ”business bubble” and provide you with new acquaintances, peer support and business opportunities. I have, for example, gotten three potential collaboration partners and two potential business projects so far just by being active in my networks.

Money is not the only valuable commodity

When you are starting your business, it is often not easy to find enough paying customers to be able to outsource tasks to others. Besides, often you don’t even know what you should be investing in, and you want to keep your expenses low.

That is why I am now a strong believer in exchanging services. For example, one of my free practice coaching clients is a translator and offers proofreading services in English for other entrepreneurs. Since she has been happy with the results from my coaching, we have agreed that she now pays for it by proofreading my website and blog articles. This way we can both utilize services that are valuable to us, but which we could not necessarily afford otherwise.

Business buddies are the best

Working for yourself can sometimes be quite lonely, and I’ve noticed that I am more creative when I can exchange ideas with other people. That is why I have deliberately aimed to find myself some business buddies that I can talk to about my business and ideas. It also has the benefit that I don't overwhelm my friends and family with my business talk.

Luckily enough, I’ve already found one on LinkedIn, and now we talk on Skype once a month to exchange ideas. In addition to sharing our thoughts and feelings about starting a business, we can count on getting valuable feedback and support for our experiments from each other.

Mentors and coaches can help you more than you can imagine

I wrote about this topic already in my post about how a coach can benefit from coaching, but I just need to say it again: coaching and mentoring can be invaluable. Thanks to all the feedback, encouragement and best practices I have gotten from my mentor and coach, I have been more effective in starting my business and gotten more paying customers. So it has definitely been worth the investment.

You create awareness by telling stories and helping others, not by selling

Thanks to my own business, I actively follow many Facebook groups for entrepreneurs. In many of these groups, members can also share ads about their business, so it has been interesting to see what works and what does not. What I have noticed so far is that direct selling like ”Hi, I offer these and these services with this price” rarely works, whereas telling stories and helping others with useful comments is more engaging. People tend to remember those who have helped them, not the ones who only sold to them.

Patience is a virtue

People have the tendency to underestimate the effort needed to achieve a desired outcome. So if you are a time-optimist like me, you expect to be a lot quicker in writing blog posts, getting new clients or building a brand for yourself. What we tend to forget is that there are no shortcuts or overnight successes. Even those that seem to get awareness and growth fast are usually working extremely hard behind the scenes. So, patience is certainly a virtue in the entrepreneur life, too.

There are naturally many small things I have learned in addition to these, but I would say these have been my biggest lessons so far. It is still too early to say what the next three months will bring, but I am certain I will continue to learn a lot along the way.

But now I want to hear from you. What have you learned in the past three months? Share your thoughts and comments below or send me a message. I would love to hear your lessons!