Setting your life up to be lived as an on-going treasure hunt, can only happen if you’ve identified things that enrich your life. Not all of those things are things, of course.
Here are some collectibles that enhance the entrepreneurial life.
° Testimonials. Happy clients and customers who take time to let you know that they appreciate your efforts do more than simply lift your spirits: they can also help you attract more happy clients and customers. Develop a system for saving the e-mails, thank yous and verbal words of praise.
° Experiences. Different experiences are good for your curiosity, your personal growth and, often, the basis of your best stories. Why, then, do so many people fail to put themselves in new situations? Habit, routine and self-doubt are some of the culprits here.
While all new experiences aren’t necessarily planned in advance, it’s a good idea to regularly put some on your calendar. Without them, you won’t have many good stories to tell your grandchildren.
° Joyfully Jobless friends. It was Napoleon Hill who first brought attention to the notion of a Master Mind Group. That’s still a fine idea, but you also need informal relationships with others who are self-employed.
Start following entrepreneurs on Twitter. Organize a local Meetup group. Find out about organizations and informal gatherings of self-employed folks in your area. Go to workshops and conferences aimed at the self-employed.
Follow up on recommendations of friends who say, “Oh, you should meet So-and-So. You have a lot in common.” Before you know it, you’ll have a tribe.
° Stories. More and more marketing gurus are singing the praises of storytelling. Not only is this an overlooked marketing tool, many people overlook their own best stories.
Keeping a simple journal or file of stories you encounter—both in person or as a reader—is a good idea. When it comes time to write a speech or spiff up your Web site or produce a mailing, you’ll have a pool of material to draw from.
Then there’s this from Michael E. Gerber: “I dare say, all successful entrepreneurs have loved the story of their business. Because that’s what true entrepreneurs do: They tell stories that come to life in the form of their business.”
° Portfolio of profit centers. There’s a line in the movie About a Boy that I love: “Two’s not enough. You’ve got to have backup.” They’re talking about relationships in the film, but it is equally true for profit centers.
As I’ve frequently mentioned, all enterprises go through cycles, but not all cycles are synchronized. If you have variety in your offerings, you can adjust, revamp, shift gears as necessary.
However, the flukes of the marketplace are only part of the reason for building a portfolio. You need outlets for all of your passions. An evolving portfolio is how you create the pieces of our own particular puzzle.
° Resources. The abundance of information available to us is both dazzling and daunting. Knowing that useful resources exist can do a great deal to dispel fear and doubt, but only if you take advantage of the best resources you can find.
Go beyond a Google search and find resources in your community, at the library, and, perhaps, your local visitor’s center. Does your local newspaper do stories about small businesses in the area? Are there local radio talk shows that might enjoy having you as a guest? What about adult ed programs that can sharpen your skills?
° Expertise. Almost from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I recognized that being regarded as an expert would be useful. Of course, if you’re passionate about something, growing into expertise is almost inevitable.
Using that expertise to expand your visibility, help others, make new discoveries, and create additional profit centers requires understanding the expert’s role and a willingness to value what you already have accomplished.
As I point out in my Establish Yourself as an Expert seminars, this isn’t something you do by the first Tuesday of next month. It’s an on-going, evolutionary process—one that keeps you stretching, exploring and growing. Doing so can also open doors of opportunity in delightfully surprising ways.