10 Promises Every Entrepreneur Should Make to Themselves

Nobody starts a new project without a few commitments. When you decide to strike out on your own and become your own boss, the only person you can rely on is yourself. Giving yourself the chance to go far with your vision by establishing some ground rules.
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Nobody starts a new project without a few commitments. When you decide to strike out on your own and become your own boss, the only person you can rely on is yourself. Giving yourself the chance to go far with your vision by establishing some ground rules.

I promise to learn from my mistakes
Mistakes can be crushing, no matter how prepared you are for them (and we are so seldom prepared!). However, making a mistake is only a true loss when one fails to learn from it. Therefore, it would be foolish to promise yourself that you won't make mistakes; it's far more productive to go ahead and try something new, and then learn from its effects. In the immortal words of Mark Zuckerberg: "Move fast and break things."

I promise to welcome change when necessary
So much of building of a business is paring down what works. Sometimes one aspect of the product is strong, but the application isn't effective for the industry. Sometimes your idea is rock-solid, but it's hard to monetize. Or your customer base isn't what you expected.

When handled with care, changes can bear wonderful fruit. After all, nobody would know about Twitter's legendary pivot out of a sinking podcast directory startup if it wasn't so inspiring to entrepreneurs. According to the Startup Genome Project, companies that pivot early are more able to raise 2.5 times more money, and have 3.6 times better user growth. So, for all the headaches that change brings, a fresh direction could likely be the key to success.

I promise to never miss a deadline
This one is a hard promise to make to yourself, because it means thinking deliberately about commitments you make to your team and your clients, and the risk is that you chip away at your credibility. To reduce the margin of error, try to have multiple fall-back plans, use a progress tracker, and always give yourself a little more time than you think you need.

I promise to learn something new every day
When people decide to start their own businesses, the act of learning becomes naturally hardcoded into the process. However, when you get to the point when you feel you're no longer learning from your work, it's an indication that you could be more adventurous. Always try to pick up new skills, get to know more about your teammates, and find a new way to make a process more efficient.

I promise to push my boundaries a little every day
Like learning every day, you should be pushing yourself into spaces that seem uncomfortable. It needn't only be directly business-related, either: if you're an introvert, try to challenge yourself by seeking uncomfortable social situations; if staying organized is difficult for you, try to form a routine of cleaning up your work area and sticking to your calendar.

I promise to embody my vision
Only you can carry out your ideas the way you want them. Not only is it important to be true to your product when it comes to your elevator pitch, it is important to be true to yourself to continue feeling passionate about your goals. By living your own vision and exuding confidence in your product (as someone who has used it), you're more likely to inspire the confidence of others.

I promise to be a team player
As Lao Tzu said, "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." A leader doesn't just dictate tasks, he works alongside his team members to reach the same goal.

I promise to distinguish myself from the rest
You didn't get into entrepreneurship so you could repackage other people's successful ideas. To stand out from your competitors, you need to maintain a unique vision, find a space in the market, and, to quote Steve Jobs, Think different, even when it would be easier to slide back into what everyone else is doing. Consider what works in your industry, and try to oneup it in the way only you know how.

I promise to listen
Good leaders know how to talk; great leaders know how to listen. For a while in the beginning, you may find yourself working apart from the crowd, relying on your own intuition to figure out how to get your business off the ground. But business is never a one-person game: listen carefully to potential investors, to your teammates when you start hiring, to your customers, and fine-tune your vision to suit the needs of the people you're catering to.

I promise to make something I am truly happy about
Nothing kills motivation faster than realizing that the product that you're putting out is not the one you're happy with. Take a step back every now and then and ask yourself, "Am I truly happy about where I'm going with this?" If the answer is yes, keep going. If the answer is no, adjust accordingly.

Like all promises, the list above is easily made --- and broken. However, being mindful and allowing them to guide your vision will help you stay on track.

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