*This is the first post in series about ‘Entrepreneur lessons and mistakes’. Aside from being a person who has committed atrocious stupid mistakes in life, I also made numerous missteps in the past 6 months I’ve been out of college trying to successfully launch 2 start-ups at the same time. So far the only thing I have to show is plenty of gray hair at 21 which is why I decided to write this series to help fellow entrepreneurs learn from my mistakes. It is said that “only a fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man from the mistakes of others.” What are you? A fool or a wise man/woman?*
These are the lessons I learned.
1. This sh*t is hard – Entrepreneur is not a job, but a lifestyle. Get used to late hours, 14 hour work days and best of all, getting absolutely nothing in return. Ask any Entrepreneur you know and they will tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. People are going to say NO to your idea and NO to you, A LOT – They are not evil people or even bad people, just people who don’t see the potential in your idea. I’ve been told no plenty of times and it doesn’t get any easier.
3. Your best ideas come when you are not thinking about it- You know the story about Archimedes finding the Law of Buoyancy while taking a bath and running through streets shouting “Eureka,” naked? I’m not saying we should all take baths while trying to solve a problem, but it helps sometimes to stop thinking about the problem. You want to run the streets naked shouting “Eureka,” but I think there is a law against that behavior.
4. Read like crazy, especially when you are busy – If you haven’t figured it out already, the amount of knowledge needed to run a successful start-up is exponentially greater than the amount of knowledge you currently possess. Sure you can’t replace experience with reading, but that’s no excuse to making a stupid mistake which could have been avoided by simply reading a book.
5. There are two types of books you should read – Ones that teach the right attitude and the ones that teach the right skill. ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective Men’ by Stephen Covey falls in the first category and ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen and ‘Effective Executive’ by Peter Drucker falls in the latter category.
6. Hiring is a herculean task – Picking your team is more important than almost everything else in business. You can have a killer product, no competition in sight and millions in funding, but if you don’t have a good team, you are going to ultimately fail. Even when you have all those things going for you, it will nearly impossible to find the right person; think of when you have none of it going for you.
7. Its easier to be a great leader than a good follower – Hannibal led his soldiers from the front, Caesar’s mere presence in the battlefield caused his men to fight harder and Alexander was nearly killed fighting in the front lines. What are you going to do? Are you going to be in the sidelines shouting orders or are you going to get dirty in the field?
This post written by contributor Senthil Nambi, check out his project http://twitlens.com. He writes a blog “chronicling the life of a twenty something entreprenuer who just recently learnt how to spell entreprenuer.”