this article first appeared on Entrepreneur.com
There is a wonderful feeling when you buy a new book. A youthful feeling of anxious anticipation slips over you as you break it open, and escape into the world crafted by the author.
Given your high expectations, the first few sentences have an obligation to immediately grab your attention. In fact, these first few words may determine whether you continue reading or not.
In order to understand the importance of the opening of a book, look no further than some of the great literary masterpieces of our time. Many of these openings are well known, and represent writing at its finest. And, if you dig a little deeper, and apply these words to your business, you may be surprised by their hidden value. Here are 10 business lessons from the opening lines of classic novels.
“I am an invisible man.” – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
There is no doubt that as an entrepreneur there are going to be times when you feel completely alone. You spend countless hours driving your business forward often being the only one who truly sees the vision of your work. Additionally, as you are building your business you often find yourself far removed from the spotlight. Your audience is smaller than you wish, and you struggle to gain visibility.
Learn to embrace these periods of invisibility as they can serve as instrumental moments as you tactically grow your business. Your time to shine will come.
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth” – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
Your story is what makes you stand out from the ever-growing noise online. Don’t be afraid to tell your story, and let others understand your journey.
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or to speak about the struggles you are having. These truthful expositions into your personal journey will resonate with your audience and allow them to see you beyond your brand.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
In order to stand out from everyone else, you have to think outside of the box. Always try to go to a level deeper with your analysis to find unique angles of thought. By simply following the herd you are setting yourself up for obscurity and failure.
“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by a Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.” – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
You don’t have to have the best graphics. You don’t have to be grammatically correct with everything you publish. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, imperfection is often viewed as more authentic and endearing to your audience. Find your particular voice. Embrace it, and learn to use it to dominate your space.
“Call me Ishmael” – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
It’s a simple opening to a classic novel, yet it speaks volumes. Your brand can only go so far without your personality playing a key role. Interaction and collaboration with your audience will be much easier when people actually know your name.
“All children, except one, grow up.” – J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)
Nurture your thirst for knowledge, and constantly strive to improve yourself and your business. Maintain a child’s curiosity. Question everything you come across. Ask why. Don’t be afraid of new technology, processes or opportunities.
“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.” – Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
These words paint a picture and are eloquently constructed. With everything you do, aim for advancement. As you move through the seasons of entrepreneurship, build upon the last season, and offer a better version of yourself and a stronger version of your business. Strive for constant improvement, and construct something you can be proud of.
“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone 84 days now without taking a fish.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
Your age, whether fresh out of college or having a mid-life career change, means nothing. The beauty of the world today is that anyone can pursue their passions, and create a business revolving around work they love. Don’t ever think you are too young, too old or too inexperienced to begin your journey.
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847)
Last but not least, being an entrepreneur is tiring. You will be pushed mentally and physically as you try to realize your dreams. Make sure you value your commitments, prioritize your work, and push forward with the tasks that move your business to new levels.