There’s an awkward phase as an entrepreneur. It’s the place between starting your “business” and starting your first year. That awkward phase can be an hour, a year, or a decade.
So how do you know when year one has begun?
Most entrepreneurs begin working the basics of a small business the day they decide to start one. It’s not uncommon on day one to start finding customers or coming up with a name, or even begin deciding just how you’re going to fund the little bugger. This is the stuff that gets your blood pumping and your excitement up. But this is not first year activity.
So what decides when you’ve moved from making money to making a company?
To put it as simply as possible, it’s when you start making it a company, and no longer behaving like a contractor. Anybody can work as a contractor. A favorite term for this is consultant. Your company can not be run by you and you alone. It can not operate like a one-man-show, even if it is. It has to perform like a company – an organization full of people.
The moment year one begins is the moment you begin to perform in a manageable, trackable manner conducive to measurability, growth, scalability, and sustainability that generates data you can learn from. Or, in simpler terms, putting simple policies and procedures in place and making sure you get feedback so you can learn and get better. Eyebrow raiser, right?
Year one is that critical and difficult phase that you can learn a ton from. If you’re doing the things a business does, you’ll be trying great new things. Some of them will work and you’ll plant them in the file for future use, and some will fail miserably and you’ll forget they ever happened. You’ll learn to overcome difficulty, including self doubt, and trudge on regardless of fear. And at the end of year one, you’ll come out ready to steer year two in the direction of success.
Here’s a great article about the importance of doing year one all the way. Written by Earl’s & Co founder Jessica Earl for her company’s first birthday, it comes with some sound advice. Good luck on your year one!
Image by Andrew Hurley