When I made the transition from affordable housing to entrepreneur, I expected to learn the traditional entrepreneurial lessons.
What I didn’t expect was that my small business would also teach me some more profound life lessons.
Here are three of the surprising things entrepreneurship has taught me.
1. Lean on Others
When I first started my business, I had to do almost everything myself.
Unfortunately, I noticed that this became a habit.
Even worse, I began to internalize a narrative that pegged my own worth or sense of competency as an entrepreneur on my ability to excel in every aspect of the business.
When my partner came up with a great idea, I would say to myself, “why didn’t I think of that.”
I didn’t realize it, but I began to view him through a competitive lens and fought back against proposals and ideas that would help the business grow.
Eventually, I had to remind myself that no task of great importance can be done by one person alone.
It only benefitted me and my business to allow my partner to lead in those areas where he excelled and to take his suggestions as exciting opportunities to grow rather than proof that I was failing.
Many of us have a tendency to put too many expectations on ourselves. If this is the case, it is always important to take a step back and remind ourselves that we grow stronger when we lean on others, and weaker when we reject their help.
I had assumed I would need to learn how to be a proper saleswoman when I decided to become an entrepreneur full-time.
The funny thing is that the opposite happened.
Most of my time on the phone is actually spent listening.
I’ve found that my job is not to sell, but to understand what my buyers and sellers want.
And then let them know if I can help.
This lesson has certainly helped my business.
But it’s also been a wonderful life lesson.
In applying the same concept to my personal relationships, I can come to a conflict or negotiation with a better understanding of what my loved one wants.
This way I can also be clear about what I can and cannot provide and help facilitate a more harmonious dialogue.
3. Provide Value First
Another surprising thing I learned is that real success comes from providing value first.
During the first year, I struggled to establish the business.
This changed once I began looking for ways to give something of value to my customers.
I began posting articles with tips and helpful advice on my company’s YouTube channel and blog.
Yes, the point may have been to get my company’s name out there.
But I wouldn’t have been successful if I also wasn’t serious about providing real value.
And what truly surprised me were the responses I received.
So many people began sharing stories about their dreams and what land ownership means to them.
It was a reminder not only of the deeper meaning behind the product I was selling but also of how small ideas and initiatives can help build a community or create a positive impact.
Everything in life is about building meaningful relationships.
And you need to give to build a relationship of any depth or meaning.
The Biggest Lesson of All
But more than anything else, entrepreneurship has taught me that there are surprising things to be learned from every task.
It doesn’t matter what job, sector, career or role you find yourself in, there are always ways to influence yourself and others for the better.