When I became an entrepreneur, I thought I had it all figured out. I had my idea fleshed out, and everyone I talked to loved it.

I quit my job, put a 3 weeks notice in and went off to the races. I started going to networking events, put together PowerPoint presentations and told everyone I could about my idea.

I was even lucky enough to close a few small deals in the first month of being an entrepreneur.  Then reality it. I wasn't charging enough for my services, and the worst of all, I wasn't sure if many people needed what I was selling.

I learned the hard way, but overall I don't regret any of my decision. Now, as a full-time entrepreneur as a ghostwriter and marketing consultant, I'm able to work on my schedule, and I made as much as I did as a full-time employee.

Here are five things I've learned during my time as an entrepreneur that can help you be a better entrepreneur in 2018.

I did a few things right away, which I continue to do because of how well it worked.

1. Build relationships using coffee meetings

Never underestimate the power of your network. When I first quit my job, my professional network was nothing. I didn't know anyone in the tech scene at all.

I first started going to networking events and the few people that i connected with at the game, I would follow up with them and ask them for coffee.

Coffee is a great way to get a little bit more insight into their business and how you can help them. I still take 250 coffee meetings a year.

2. Do a weekend hackathon to test out your idea

I went to a 3-day hackathon within the first few months of me quitting, and it's the best thing that I could have done in that timeframe. Not only was I able to validate my idea, but I was able to build new relationships with other entrepreneurs who were also interested in my idea.

It doesn't have to be a weekend hackathon, but it's a good idea to test your idea out as soon as possible. As an early entrepreneur, it's easy to think that you're sitting on a billion dollar idea. A lot of things can go right, but a lot of things can go wrong if you don't validate that people want what you're selling.

Validate your idea as soon as possible. A big part of validating your idea is getting people to use your product and give you feedback on it. Don't be afraid to launch. Feedback is your engine of growth.

Also, don't be afraid to market the product before it's done. In reality, the product will never be done. There will always be new features to be built, so don't fall into the trap of making sure everything is perfect before you can start telling people about it.

3. Work for a startup

If you can't beat 'em, join em. There is a common misconception that you failed if you don't build a successful business. I used to think like that too.

The reality is that you're most likely going to fail a few times before finding and building on a successful idea.

The significant part of joining a startup is that you get to learn from the ground up with minimal supervision. It's true that everyone is learning as the company grows, and you can use these findings to help build your next business if that's what you want to do.

Becoming an entrepreneur is a great step towards learning a lot in a short time frame. If you follow the above steps, you might have an easier time at it!

Published on: Dec 22, 2017