11 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Do in 2011

2011 is just around the corner! So while you prepare your hats and horns don’t forget to plan your entrepreneurial journey for the coming year. There are 365 spankin’ new days laying in front of you, ones you can mold and tweak to be whatever you please if you’re willing to put in the hard work and the determination now!

In 2011 I’m going big or going home (teaser alert: I won’t be going home) and I suggest you do the same. Maybe you’ve been sitting on the bench for years, maybe you’ve been racked with anxiety or fear in the past, whatever your reasons for not starting something amazing – for not trying to carve your life into your ideal existence – it’s time to throw all those excuses in the trash and make this coming year like none before it.

Self doubt, laziness and procrastination are sooo 2010… follow these 11 simple things every entrepreneur should do and you’ll find yourself in an amazingly different place this time next year.

1. Chase breakthroughs

The most important thing the last year has taught me is how and why I should chase breakthroughs. Breakthroughs follow the 80/20 principle to a T, they account for a small percent of your ‘working’ time but they can create monumental change in your business, your life and the world at large.

Electricity happened in one ‘breakthrough’ moment, after 13 months of repeated failures. What could you be missing by not stopping and allowing your mind time for a breakthrough?

Whenever I feel ‘stuck’, I drop everything I’m doing – no matter how seemingly important and I start chasing a breakthrough. I will go to a park, take trains – spending hours staring at the window – or even hop on a plane and go somewhere new to gain inspiration. Breakthroughs can happen on the subway, in museums or even while laying on your bed – but it’s necessary to  practice being present for them to occur.

Breakthroughs may completely change the course of your business, breakthroughs may alter the state of your relationship or lead you down a completely different path that will fundamentally change your life over the next few years. I like to imagine breakthroughs like a turn in the road… on your journey to success you never want to travel a straight “easy” road, that’s the road to failure. Instead your path should be speckled with turns and twists, it shouldn’t be easy, but it will never be harder than you can bear if you really want the goal you’re going for.

2. Do. More. Video.

Listen up honey bunnies. Video is the future, people have been saying this for years and it’s growing more and more popular as we speak (read? write? whatever). All of you with even slightly presentable mugs should be integrating some sort of video into your business/brand. If you have a face only a mother can love, do videos anyhow – Steve Buscemi has built a brand around that.

I hate doing videos, they make me incredibly nervous and I still have that nerdy, shy girl mentality from years ago when I was an uber dork. But, because of this, I’m forcing myself to start lifecasting anyway. I’ll be doing 5 videos a week from my new (secret till 2011!) Youtube channel and as much as I’m scared, I also know this will be a huge learning experience and a new way to grow my personal brand.

3. Slim down.

I mean this physically (if you need to lose a few), mentally and stuff wise (yeah, couldn’t think of a clever word for that one). My friend Tammy Camp wrote a great post on her new minimalistic approach to life. She’s getting rid of a warehouse of awesome stuff and will be giving it away to her readers. What a way to clear clutter in preparation for 2011!

Getting rid of all the crap that doesn’t matter is hugely important in the coming year if you want to be successful. It means ridding yourself of clutter and getting down to the ‘meat’ of the matter, whether that’s your business, your home or your body. I find that I’m 100 times as productive when I clean my house of all distractions and most items that aren’t essential. I have less left to busy myself with and the feeling is freeing. Two great reads if you want to get uber jazzed on slimming down and being minimalistic are The Power of Less by Leo Babauta and Everett Bogue’s blog on minimalism, cyborgs and all things progressive (partially joking about the cyborg thing, partially!).

4. Think Bigger.

Don’t settle for small goals in 2011, instead focus on going big or going home. A great book to read on the topic is Purple Cow and/or The Dip (both by Seth Godin), if I could have my way you’d read both several times. The gist of these books is that there are amazing products and there are mediocre ones, there are times to quit and “pivot” and there are times to carry on with dogged determination.

Be wise enough to not stick stubbornly to a plan you can’t win and be bold enough to go for something 99% of the population wouldn’t dare attempt. Then email me when you do it.

5. Stop chasing your passion.

*Gasp* what kind of heresy is this? Don’t follow your passion – but that’s what I live for, that’s what all the self help books have said and what all the get rich easy websites preach? Can it. It’s time to get real, or get out.

I tried for months to follow my ‘passion’ alone and started a string of abysmally unimpressive online businesses when I first got started that all flopped. It wasn’t solely because I followed my passion but it was because I didn’t check to see if my passion was shared by others, if I was indeed good at my passion or a myriad of other market factors.

If you want to escape the 9 to 5 for good and truly start a business that will change your life then you’ve got to get smart and stop listening to people who make ALL of their money teaching others how to make money online. Think about the circular logic, demand proof that they’ve made money in other ways besides just by teaching you how to make money. A good example of someone who is an honest, successful and legitimate and teaches about passive income is Pat Flynn – unfortunately few internet marketers have as much integrity as Pat and I like to think that’s why he does so well 🙂

So instead, think of a business you’re interested in and then do your due diligence. Check to see what kind of market size there is (you can go crazy and check Forrester’s or go cheap-o and just read your would-be competition’s press releases). See if others are making money in your field (social media, soaps or cloud computing). Analyze the industry leaders, what they’re doing right and where they are lacking. I swear if you spend 4 hours on this you’ll be able to tell 100% if you have a viable market or not.

Passion is nice, fluffy and sounds great… but you are in this for the money, honey. So definitely love what you do, but don’t be so blind to think everyone loves underwater basket weaving as much as you do and that they’ll all be breaking down your door to buy your new, $39.99 ebook, on the topic.

6. Grow your team.

Alright, get ready for an obvious plug, but it’s a good plug – so I don’t feel bad! I think everyone should at least try building their business by hiring virtual staff members this 2011. I have used virtual assistants for years and I can honestly say they have contributed to 80% of my success, I talk/preach/nag about them all the time and the one thing I wish is that more people would try a VA out for themselves.

A virtual assistant is a person who does tasks for you, virtually, this can be webmaster, project manager, personal assistant, SEO or customer support. There are lots and lots of ways to incorporate a virtual assistant and grow your virtual team (you can read about some here) and all of them will contribute to your bottom line (if done correctly) and grow your business faster than you could ever do on your own.

If you want me & my team to find you the perfect *insert hallelujah chorus* check out my baby Virtual Zeta which matches smart entrepreneurs with virtual assistants based on their needs & price range.

7. Change your scenery.

Even if it’s just for a week, do some traveling, move cities or switch residences. There is something so euphoric and creativity bearing about changing your scenery. Check out airbnb and book your next mini vacation today, but take your laptop with you and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts you get more, quality work done ‘away’ than you ever get at home.

*Check out this post by Dan Martell, it almost single-handedly convinced me to move from Nevada to the bay area.

8. Become a student, again.

Too many of us have forgotten our educational roots… whether you never made it past 9th grade or graduated Cum Laude, it’s important to always be a student first, while you are on the road to success. One of my top tips to any beginning entrepreneur is to just read for 6 months (or listen to audio books/podcast if that’s your thing). Study, digest, question everything you can get your hands on. My top three learning tips are picking up used books on Amazon (the one thing I like to save is books), listening to Mixergy interviews and checking out speakers at TED.

9. Visualize your future

Whether it’s having a family while living comfortably off of your successful start up or traveling Europe and eating caviar as you lounge around in nothing but a mink coat… visualize your ‘end game’ as often as possible.

I do this on a daily basis, sometimes in the morning I lay in bed and either pray about my upcoming day or I let my mind wander into the future – mentally “seeing” how the best possible outcome will look. The advantages of this practice are immense – check out more detailed descriptions in the book (written ages ago but still super potent) Psycho Cybernetics.

10. Focus, focus, focus.

The one thing I wish I could go back and shake into my younger self when I first started out is the utter importance of focus. It’s one of the least talked about, yet most important, part of success. Let me just save you years of agony and wasted time:

  • Don’t do more than one project/business at the same time until you are well versed in the business process
  • Even afterwards try not to do more than one business at once
  • Don’t do with more what could be done with less

I use the pomodoro technique to help me focus and things like white noise when I study, your methods may be different but make sure that you have a very specific way in which you focus so your body & mind will know whenever you do that routine that it’s razor focus time.

11. Set 3 goals.

I’ve had a lot of success, in small batches, using the 3 goal mentality. Setting 3 specific goals is simple, anyone can do it, it’s easy to remember off the top of your head and there is something just plain magical about the number three. So for 2011 set just three overarching goals for yourself, or your business. These 3 goals can have sub goals and milestones attached to them (I use Basecamp to manage mine) or they can be stand alone.

My three business goals:

  1. Graduate from Founder Institute with Zirtual and get it funded.
  2. Build Virtual Zeta to $25,000 a month in revenue (a baby business in the grand scheme, but still a nice, lifestyle one)
  3. Make my new, super secret ’till 1/01/2011 Youtube channel a popular startup/entrepreneur’s journey type vlog awesome (relative I know) and do it 5 times a week!

My three personal goals:

  1. Cut negativity out of my life 90% (gotta keep a bit of that saucy edge)
  2. Move to SF (will be nailing this goal in the first month of 2011)
  3. Learn to dance like a fly girl

*alternates are good to have too, like if I can’t dance (which so far in my 25 years has been pretty evident) I may try DJing… but my boyfriend tells me I have no musical taste either… pickle!

**If any of you know an awesome dance/dj class in SF let me know, i will trade biz know how for Fly Girl training 🙂

What are your 2011 goals?