With 2017 wrapping up and a new year fast approaching, now is the perfect time to explore your passion and think about taking the leap into entrepreneurship. While the process will include unique challenges, there are things that you can do along the way to encourage your success. To become a travel influencer and build my portal of expert tips and advice, I've had to put in many hours of persistent hard work. Here are a couple of things I learned along the way. 

1. Be specific, then be even more specific

One of the most important parts of achieving success is knowing what "success" means to you. When I started my print company, I said that I wanted to "grow" my business and "make a profit." A few years later, though, I felt stagnant and wasn't really sure how to measure whether I'd met my goals - or how far I still had left to go.

So the following January, I made a very specific set of goals. I wanted to land a wholesale account with three specific chains (I snagged two of them by Q2 that year!), have my products in X number of stores by year's end, and have a total revenue of $X. When December 31 rolled around, it was great to see how close I had come and how many of my goals I'd met or even surpassed.

2. Grow your flock (but know that it may shrink)

Find others that are where you want to be. Develop a rapport with those in the industry, even if they are your "competition." You can not only learn from one another, but they may end up sending clients your way in the future if a project doesn't match their expertise or they take a leave of absence.

Understand though that as you bring people in, there will be people that will leave. One of my good friends surprised me when he told me I would never make it on my own. Another got extremely upset when I couldn't spend as much time with her.

Similarly, people you may have worked with in the past may be unresponsive or hesitant to engage in your vision because there is a risk involved. A few of my contacts were happy to work with me when I was part of a major company but declined when I initially started out on my own.  

3. Ditch your comfort zone

One of the most important - yet most difficult - parts of being an entrepreneur is taking risks. Forcefully pulling yourself out of your comfort zone is the only way you'll ever see growth, so it's important to grow accustomed to this early on.

My mentor once told me that the moment I got comfortable with what I was doing was the moment he was going to find someone to replace me. And he did. He knew that I needed to move on. Get comfortable with discomfort and watch your business grow.

4. Time off will be a foreign concept

The idea of an overnight success is an often-misleading one. There have been years of late nights, early mornings, and 7 day workweeks since starting my business. There's a reason that not every aspiring entrepreneur reaches their goal: it requires many hours and hard work to get there, and not everyone is up for the challenge.

5. Hiring help isn't a sign of weakness

You should also hire experts in certain fields, where you may have shortcomings. For example, you may be the best realtor around, but your business might benefit from someone whose strength is interior decorating and staging, or who is a social media marketing/SEO whiz.

I've hired college students to help with basic office tasks that were consuming my time and taking me away from the more important "money makers." These amazing workers packaged orders, sent out catalogs, updated social media posts, ran errands to the post office, and even sorted my receipts come tax time. 

While you can probably do it all, can you do it all well? If not, hire those who can.

6. Get to know your real boss

Without clients and consumers, there wouldn't be a business. Some of the most helpful tweaks to my business have come from feedback from readers and clients. I've learned what the company strengths and weaknesses are and have learned to happily accept criticism. There's plenty of opportunity there.

7. Understand money will fluctuate

You have to spend money to make money; we've all heard the saying. I'm guilty of wanting to purchase office supplies that I've learned aren't necessary. Spending too much money or spending it foolishly can be the difference between a flourishing business and a bankrupt one. Businesses are cyclical. Only spend what you need and save the rest.

There's no denying that being an entrepreneur is hard work. However, there are many benefits, lessons to be learned, and victories that come with challenges. You may even find that you wouldn't have it any other way! With the right mindset, a lot of hard work, and a team of supporters around you, you're sure to find success.