Today, I want to share with you 6 important lessons I learned in the past year and will apply in 2023 to accelerate my entrepreneurial journey to empower climate action & entrepreneurs like you and me.
To get your business off the ground, you need to do some heavy lifting.
Make your life as a (future) entrepreneur easier by considering the following lessons.
Lesson 1: Action is more important than planning
When we start out with an idea for what we want to do, it is easy to get lost in the planning stage. What domain should I choose? Which images should I use on my blog? Is this the right color palette for my logo? Would customers prefer this design over that design? Is this even what I want to work on? Do I want to write about this topic? … I am sure you could continue this list for pages.
Fact is: Most often, time spent on planning details is time spent procrastinating from action. For me, this is quite natural (unfortunately). Taking action, making the first steps, is putting yourself into a situation where you will end up making mistakes and that can be scary.
But more importantly, action is the only thing that will bring you forward. It is the thing that will drive climate innovation, and we never needed it as much as we do today.
When you start doing something, like writing a blog or calling potential customers, it provides you with direct feedback. From the outside, but also from the inside.
When I started The Climate Innovator, I did not know what writing style I wanted to use or on which topics I should be focusing, or how to best spread the information about my newsletter. Just by setting the website up and writing my first few articles, I got a feeling for how I wanted to build this thing.
So, take your idea and take it to your potential customers. And do it repeatedly. You will be able to move forward much faster.
Lesson 2: Make time for the things that are important to you
If you didn’t join this newsletter last week, you might have noticed that I missed a “few” weeks (all of them) since September. Obviously, this is not sustainable.
The simple truth is, I was working too hard on my other job as consultant for the energy industry on two longer projects, and I couldn’t manage to find the time for writing while maintaining my social life and recovering on the weekend.
While building a business on the side provides you with a mostly secure income before you generate revenue, it means you are cutting back on other things. Either you have too little time for your own business, or you invest too little time in your social life to balance things.
This can work for a while, especially if you have a fixed workload at your job, but I had to change something to get The Climate Innovator back on track again for 2023.
I reduced my weekly hours at my job at AFRY Management Consulting, so that I could get a couple of days per week where I can work on my newsletter, connecting with fellow climate entrepreneurs, and to support you better in your entrepreneurial journey.
Whether you work a 4-day week, or 50 hours. Make sure to plan and block times of focus in your calendar for your business and the things that you need to do to achieve progress and stable mental health (FFF – Food, Family, and Friends – in that order).
Lesson 3: Learn how to market yourself and your ideas
The last time I founded a company, I had no idea of how to properly market our product to our customers. As an introvert (and engineer 🤓) it does not always come naturally for me to just reach out to people or post often and regularly on social media.
Like me, you might feel that social media, whether it’s Twitter or LinkedIn, isn’t really that important. It’s the product that counts, right? “If you build it, they will come!” I used to think.
Unfortunately, this is not true.
Most people in your target audience will never know that you could be solving their most critical problem unless you present it to them. In fact, you will have difficulties to find enough customers to even validate an idea, if you are not doing marketing already.
Your idea or product might change over time, but you can already start marketing your business. LinkedIn is a great platform for building connections and to learn about your audience’s problems.
Don’t go out and just add random people. Follow thought leaders and other entrepreneurs in your field, interact with them (and their followers) in the comments, and start posting yourself. Did you know that only 1 % of the people on LinkedIn ever posted ANYTHING? So, by posting regularly, you are already becoming part of the top 1 % voices on LinkedIn.
I used Justin Welsh’s “The Content OS” course to become better at writing content for both, LinkedIn, and The Climate Innovator. He essentially provides you with a system on how to come up with new content and how to accelerate your content creation process. You can get his courses here: The Content OS and The LinkedIn OS.*
LinkedIn and intranets have been the primary source of growth for this particular newsletter here. But only if you actively share your articles, thoughts, and products will people who are interested in your offering notice it in the first place.
Lesson 4: Create an accountability system for yourself
As entrepreneurs we are the only ones holding ourselves accountable for doing our job. Of course, there might be customers asking for results, but there is no boss who could fire you if you spend the day watching Netflix instead of doing sales by reaching out to your potential customers or writing another post for LinkedIn.
What you need is someone or something to hold yourself accountable. Commitments towards other people are such a thing. As soon as you announce that you will publish a weekly newsletter and there are a handful of people who signed up for it, you will feel the need to put in the work. We don’t want to disappoint our customers. I don’t want to disappoint you by publishing my articles unregularly every now and then.
For example, having a regular schedule with your newsletter helps to keep posting, as it sets a deadline for you every time you need to deliver an article. Continuity is key to your success.
Lesson 5: Surround yourself with people who are on a similar journey
Another option is to find a community of people like yourself, to talk to on a regular basis. Not only can you talk about your ideas and discuss a variety of aspects of your businesses, but you will keep each other accountable for making progress and push each other to go further.
Being a (solo-)entrepreneur can often make you feel lonely, especially when working from home. But there are loads of people out there with who you share the same interest in climate and entrepreneurship. In the past year, I have joined several online communities and private slack groups which host amazing people who support each other. There are paid communities, like Indie Worldwide, which offer additional services, like 1-to-1 introductions, community events & challenges, and regular workshops with successful founders.
I am currently building the “Climate Innovator Community”, which provides a lot of benefits for climate innovators and founders, including:
- 🧑💻1-on-1 same-stage matching with others (find a co-founder, get encouragement and support)
- 🧑🚀1-on-1 higher stage matching (find a mentor, get advice & expertise)
- 💬 Join the conversation on Slack, where you can ask people for advice, share your wins, and praise, or ask for a roast of your product or landing page
- 📆 Monthly meetup for climate innovators and founders around the world to meet each other, share their journey and make friends
- 🦸 Meet successful founders in the climate space who share their stories, tips, and tricks
If you want to learn more and sign up for the open beta phase, click here.
Lesson 6: Try and make more experiments
This comes a little bit back to lesson 1 or goes hand in hand with it.
Back, when my sister and I were children, we were interested in so many different things and we would switch hobbies regularly. But whenever you see something that sparks your interest or creates an idea in your head, there comes the question “What if…”.
What if I cannot do that? What if I fail? What if I don’t like this new hobby? What if it is simply not as good/easy/cool as I expected?
Well… My parents would always say “You will never know, unless you try it.” and there is another Germany saying which goes like “Trying is better than studying”.
And this is true for entrepreneurship as well as engineering. We often have an idea and then plan around it, try to study every possibility to avoid the outcome of the “What if” questions above.
However, most of the times, simply trying to do something will give us more insights than all the studying and planning. When I started with this newsletter and with posting on LinkedIn, I knew that I could easily get stuck in the planning stage, as I do so often. So, I decided to take another path. Within a day, I just created the website and wrote down how I felt about it in my first newsletter post. It was an experiment, and the results were great. Not only showed me the experiment of just creating a blog post / newsletter, that I could do it, but that I enjoyed it. And people liked it, too (thank you for reading! 😊). Every week I try another concept for my posts and that helps me to realise what I wanted to write about and what not.
And the same is true for the “Climate Innovator Community”. I know that I feel like I am fighting the world alone on my own sometimes. And having a group of friends with the same interests around climate, technology, and entrepreneurship would be great to co-create, to support each other, and to feel that a) you are not alone and b) part of something bigger in this world together with others. And instead of planning a lot how this community could look like, I decided to just try it out, and throw the idea out there. And if you like the idea and would love to be a part of such a community, we can build it together step by step, experiment by experiment. Let’s bring those green premiums down together! I’m looking forward to it!
- Action is more important than planning. No plan will ever be perfect, so better start experimenting and trying things out. You will get to you goal quicker!
- Make time for the things that are important to you. You don’t need time hacks to get another minute here or there. Make a list of your priorities, give them a weight of importance, and allocate the (i.e.) 40 hours of your week accordingly. Make space in your calendar for job 1, job 2, family, friends, cooking, and adhere to it!
- Learn how to market yourself and your ideas. People must know about you and your product. And if you believe your product will be helpful and valuable for other people than it is simply the right thing to try to make them aware of your solutions and offerings!
- Create an accountability system to hold yourself accountable for your work. No one else will do it and you will lack motivation from time to time.
- Surround yourself with people like yourself. Dreamers, believers, makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators who want to change the world! You will support each other and drive innovation and business further.
When you are ready, there are 3 things I can do for you:
- Connect, Learn & Grow: Truly connect with a selected group of cleantech entrepreneurs in the , where you will find kindred spirits, future co-founders, mentors, and long-term business partners. This is an exclusive community and only 50 people will be able to join! So, hurry and sign up to join our community!
- Startup & Business Consulting: Whether you are starting out with your first business idea or want to grow your business’ impact in the world, there are several ways I can support you. Contact me here for setting up a session!
- Sustainability Consulting: Creating a sustainable business is harder than it seems. Especially if you have your operations up and running, changing critical processes to turn your company green can be difficult. Send me a message here to setup a first call!
See you next week. 😉 (Haven’t subscribed yet? Join here!)