After reading the article, "10 Reasons To Start A Business After College Instead Of Finding A Job," I thought back to the first business venture I founded at the end of college.
It was the second semester of my senior year, and my baseball career had just ended because I blew my knee out in spring training.
It crushed me because I had finally gotten healthy after two and a half injury-plagued years, finished my junior year strong and was primed to have a monster senior year in the middle of the lineup.
But, it was not meant to be, and a new opportunity presented itself.
I could have been like everyone else in my class who got a 9 to 5 job. That would have been the easy thing to do. Instead, I partnered up with some people I met through a college internship to create a startup.
Founding your own venture will teach you a lot about business, life and even yourself. Here are a few things I learned from my post-college venture:
1. How to deal with rejection
Let's face it: Rejection is not fun. It is, however, something everyone has to experience in business as well as life.
At first, this is hard to deal with. When I was recruiting athletes, we got rejected and hung up on daily.
But, learning how to deal with rejection is one of the most important skills you can learn as an entrepreneur.
Each time you face rejection, you learn things about yourself and your business. You also wander a bit further out of your comfort zone each time.
2. Sales skills
Whether you have a corporate job or you're an entrepreneur, sales are the lifeblood of business.
Nothing truly happens until a sale is made. Payroll cannot be met unless sales are made, and equipment cannot be purchased unless sales are made.
There is no way to learn sales faster than by having to do it. For me, I was thrown into the fire right away. If you're selling a physical product or trying to get people to invest their life savings with you, you need to be selling at all times.
When you're not selling, you're not making money.
3. Your best customers are already your customers
Have you ever wondered why cable or cell phone providers will give you such "great" deals when you threaten to leave for their competition?
This is because they know how difficult and costly it will be to replace you. Typically, it costs between six to 10 times as much to attract a new customer as it is to keep a current customer.
For us, getting another client likely meant a significant monetary investment (flights, car rentals, gas, food, etc.) and a significant time commitment.
It was easier to keep our current clients happy and sell them on other things (such as training sessions) than it was to try and secure new ones.
4. When to outsource
Your time is valuable. You need to focus on income-producing activities. Getting bogged down by the $10 per hour tasks will slow down your growth.
When we first started out, we had to do everything, and it was a drag. There were many late nights and early mornings doing things like data entry and basic research for player packages.
Eventually, we realized having people who could do the basic research and data entry functions allowed us to focus on the more important tasks: scouting, setting up meetings with families and attending meetings with families.
Do not get stuck with busy work when you can easily delegate tasks.
5. Surround yourself with successful people
Most of us have heard the saying, you are the sum of the five people you hang out with most. But many people seem to forget we spend a lot of time with the people we work with.
One of the biggest drawbacks of a corporate job is you do not get to decide who you work with. You are just thrown together with other people. You have no idea who they are, how they think or what their general attitudes are.
And that is risky.
But when you work for yourself, you can hire the people you want and choose your own mentors.
Surrounding yourself with the right people is crucial because they can provide support and guidance. They can even improve your network by making introductions to key content or joint venture partners to increase your business's growth.
6. Don't guess; interview your customers
In this day and age, there is no need to guess about what your clients want.
There are many ways to conduct outreach, and it sometimes requires being on the phone for hours and doing interviews. Other times, you can get information from online forums.
The reality is, you can only guess what your prospects want. By actually asking them, you will find out how to position your offering to get the sale.
And that is what customers care about: themselves. They could care less about you or your offer. They only care about how you can fix their problems or provide relief in their lives.
By asking them the right questions, they will give you the road map.
7. Copy other successful models
If another company is doing something similar to what you're doing, and is successful, you should analyze it, study it and implement it into your own business.
This can be sales funnels, sales copy, blog posts, videos or any other style of marketing. If it's generating leads and sales, the company must be doing something right.
You should take the key elements of the business model and use it as a framework for your voice, style and words.
When you combine a successful model with your well-researched message, you will create an incredible offering your prospects will have a difficult time saying no to.
8. Don't let fear keep you from going for it
I know starting a business can be intimidating. Many businesses fail, things go wrong and there will be days when you wonder if you should just take the steady paycheck and easy hours that come with a 9 to 5 job.
But, you have to keep going.
You're probably wondering when you will stop feeling this fear. The truth is, you will likely always feel this fear. It's normal to feel this fear.
The most successful entrepreneurs are able to work past their fears, take action and get results, good or bad.
They take those lessons and do it again the next day, the day after that and the day after that. They keep working past their fears because they know what they can achieve.
Once you decide to take action in the face of your fears, you will forge your own path to a successful venture.